Royal Mail has welcomed changes to the Dangerous Dog Act that have come into force.
The new legislation now ensures postmen and women will have legal protection over attacks by dogs when they enter private property, including a customer’s garden.
Tougher penalties will also be imposed for irresponsible dog owners.
Previously, legal protection over attacks by dogs did not extend ‘beyond the garden gate’. This legal loophole was a particular issue for postmen and women, who each visit hundreds of private addresses every day on their delivery rounds.
The legal loophole in England and Wales was highlighted in an independent report published in November 2012, commissioned by Royal Mail Group’s Chairman Donald Brydon. The report set out the recommendations from an inquiry into dog attacks on postal workers, led by former High Court Judge Sir Gordon Langley.
Between April 2012 to April 2013, there were over 2,400 attacks on Royal Mail postmen and women, some leading to a permanent disabling injury.
Shaun Davis, Group Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability, Royal Mail plc, said: “I am delighted by the news that changes to the Dangerous Dog Act have now come in to force in England and Wales. Royal Mail has campaigned for changes to this important legislation and it will now ensure our postmen and women will be protected when they enter private property including a customer’s garden.
“The welfare and safety of our people is our first priority. We are only too aware of the life changing physical and psychological injuries that can be sustained from dog attacks. Nobody should have to endure this and our postmen and women should not be at increased risk of such attacks simply because of the job they do.
“With the new legal protections and with greater public awareness, I hope we can see a significant reduction in the number of incidents in future.”
Last year, Royal Mail held the UK’s first Dog Awareness Week, working alongside the Communication Workers Union (CWU), with support from a wide range of organisations and animal charities including Dogs Trust, Defra and Blue Cross. Its purpose was to raise awareness of dog attacks on Royal Mail’s postmen and women and appeal to dog owners to work with us to help keep animals under control when the postman calls. Royal Mail will be holding a second Dog Awareness Week this summer.