Dangerous dogs – sentence guideline consultation

The government has today launched a sentence guideline consultation for dangerous dog offences.

The most serious offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is Being an owner/person in charge of  a dog which on a specified date, was dangerously out of control in a public place [... and injured a person]. The current sentencing range for this offence is between a financial penalty and a six month custodial sentence where no injury was caused, or a financial penalty and a two-year custodial sentence for

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the aggravated offence where injury is caused.

If you are the owner of the dog or the person in charge of it at the time it becomes ‘dangerously out of control’ then you will be guilty of the offence. This is a strict liability offence which means in simple terms – if the dog becomes dangerously out of control and you either own the dog or are in charge of it at the time – you are guilty.

In law a dog is defined as dangerously out of control where there are reasonable grounds to fear that the dog will injure someone (whether or not it actually does). This can apply even where your dog is on a lead and whilst on a lead – it then bites someone.

A pubic place is defined as any street, road or other place to which the public has access – including the common parts of private dwellings.

If you are convicted of this offence the court could:

  1. Send you to prison
  2. Sentence you to a community penalty such as unpaid work
  3. Oder that you pay a financial penalty
  4. Order the destruction of your dog
  5. Order you to keep your dog under proper control in the future
  6. Specify measures for keeping the dog under control, for example; a muzzle
  7. Disqualify you from owning a dog for a specified period
  8. Order you to pay compensation to the victim

Currently there is no sentence guideline for this offence and the proposed consultation aims to bring consistency in sentence. Within the consultation, the suggested starting point for this offence where injury is caused is a community penalty with a custodial sentence reserved for the most serious offenders.

If you wish to read or take part in the consultation, please click here

If you wish to read the BBC news coverage about this then please click here


  1. It will be interesting to see if they making sentencing for Dangerous Dogs cases as difficult and inefficient as the new sentencing guidelines they have released recently for Burglary and Theft, and the assault ones before that.

    Yes for sentencing guidelines, but no to lengthy guides.

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