Lets Talk: Dogs in Public Spaces
We are currently reviewing the dog control rules that apply to public spaces within the Chichester District. Rules around dog fouling, dog exclusion areas, and areas in which a dog must be put on a lead when directed, are all outlined in a Public Space Protection Order. This is in place to help ensure everyone can enjoy the many beautiful open spaces and beaches we have in the district and to help protect wildlife.
We are proposing that the current Public Space Protection Order, which is due to end in October this year, continue for a further three years with no changes. As part of this, we ran a public consultation between 10 May and 5pm on 7 June 2023, and invited residents, community groups and organisations to share their views on this proposal.
The consultation is now closed and the feedback gathered will help inform our final proposal, which will be presented to the council's Environment Panel for consideration before being taken to the council's Cabinet for a final decision in September.
All of the areas covered by the proposed order are listed here in the Frequently Asked Questions on this page.
Frequently asked questions
- What is a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)?
- What sort of antisocial behaviour or activities does this PSPO deal with?
- What do you mean by 'public space'?
- What are the proposals for this PSPO?
- Do the new PSPO proposals differ from the current Dog Control PSPO?
- Why are you consulting with people?
- When is it an offence to let your dog foul?
- What does 'dogs on leads by direction' actually mean?
- Why not make an order that all dogs should be kept on a lead?
- What about disabled dog walkers who may not be able to comply with the order?
- What is a Fixed Penalty Notice and how much is it?
- Who enforces the PSPO?
- Why have dog exclusion areas?
- Why is Forestry Commission land not covered by the PSPO?
- Who makes the final decision about the PSPO?
- When would the extension, with proposed changes, come into force?
- Where can I find more information?
A. A Public Space Protection Order (or PSPO) can be made by a local authority to address antisocial behaviour in public spaces. It can cover all public spaces in a district or a smaller defined area. A PSPO regulates activities that have a negative impact on the local community and, in this case, can enforce requirements and restrictions that encourage responsible dog ownership.
A PSPO lasts for up to three years, but can be extended for a further three years if it is still needed to address the antisocial behaviour. There is no limit to the number of times a PSPO can be extended in this way, but the council must review and then consult with people before making an extension or before making changes to the order.
A. A PSPO can cover any persistent and unreasonable activity that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the local area. The impact of the activities needs to justify the restrictions being imposed, and the PSPO must state what the restricted activities and requirements are.
This particular PSPO deals with antisocial or nuisance behaviour associated with irresponsible dog ownership, and it has three parts:
1. Fouling of Land by Dogs — which means that not clearing up after your dog in a public space is a crime.
2. Dogs on Lead by Direction — which applies to areas where a dog should be put and kept on a lead when directed by an authorised officer.
3. Exclusion of Dogs — this relates to areas where dogs are not allowed, either all year round or for a part of the year.
A. By this we mean, land which is open to the air and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access within the Chichester District, except for Forestry Commission land.
The PSPO gives specific details about which particular areas of land are covered by the restrictions, with some maps that show restrictions in specific areas. For example, the order does not cover Forestry Commission land. There are also some privately owned areas that are also covered by the PSPO.
A. We know that most dog owners are responsible, but unfortunately there are a small number who do not pick up after their dog or allow them to run out of control. This Public Space Protection order means that we can tackle these issues, which can negatively affect our communities, our wildlife, and spoil people's enjoyment of our beaches and open spaces, while encouraging responsible dog ownership.
We are proposing to extend the current Public Space Protection Order, which is due to end in October this year, for a further three years with a few minor changes.
You can read the full proposal here, and view maps relating to the proposals.
A. No. The proposal is to keep the current rules. Any additional restrictions proposed for the renewed PSPO need to be based on evidence, however, we will take into account comments from the public and other consultees in relations to the current dog controls.
A. We want the PSPO to address the problems it is set up to deal with and, as far as possible, avoid causing difficulties for people. This consultation gives people who may be affected by the PSPO the chance to tell us their views about what we are proposing. This will help us make the final decision about what is included in the order. It is also a legal requirement that we consult before extending, or making changes to the order.
A. If someone fails to pick up their dog's mess in an area covered by the PSPO, this is an offence. The mess needs to be picked up straight away so dog walkers should always have enough bags on them when they walk their dogs. Dogs urinating is not prohibited.
As a council, we have introduced a Green Dog Walkers scheme, which promotes responsible dog ownership in a friendly non-confrontational way. Those who sign up to the scheme volunteer to offer bags to other dog walkers who may have run out. You can find out more about this scheme on our Green Dog Walkers page.
Q. What does 'dogs on leads by direction' actually mean?
A. The PSPO requires a person in charge of a dog to put it on a lead, and keep it on a lead, when asked to do so by an authorised officer. The officers will only need to request this if there is evidence that a dog is not under control. For example, if it is behaving in a nuisance manner towards people, other dogs, or wildlife. If the person does not comply, then they can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice, or ultimately, face prosecution.
Q. Why not make an order that all dogs should be kept on a lead?
A. It is important for animal welfare that dogs are given suitable exercise and, for the majority of dogs, this means being able to run. Most dog owners keep control of their dogs and know when to keep their dog on a lead for safety or good manners. The PSPO is aimed at dealing with nuisance dog behaviour.
Q. What about disabled dog walkers who may not be able to comply with the order?
A. If a person is registered blind under Section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948, then the PSPO does not apply. If a person has a disability that affects their mobility, manual dexterity, physical coordination, or their ability to lift, carry or move everyday objects, and the dog they are in charge of is one they rely on for assistance (trained by a specialised charity), then the PSPO does not apply.
Q. What is a Fixed Penalty Notice and how much is it?
A. This is a notice issued by an authorised officer for some types of offence. The person served with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) has an opportunity to pay a fine rather than face prosecution. The penalty is £100, reduced to £75 if paid within 14 days.
There is no formal right to appeal against an FPN. If someone does not agree that they committed the offence, they can decide not to pay the FPN and the matter would then be decided by a court. It will then be up to the court, on hearing the evidence, to determine whether or not an offence was committed and whether or not any penalty should be imposed. The maximum penalty on conviction is £1000. Failure to discharge the offence by paying the Fixed Penalty Notice may result in prosecution.
Q. Who enforces the PSPO?
A. Any officer authorised by the council can enforce the PSPO. Our Foreshores team carry out the majority of enforcement in our coastal and beach areas.
We also work with Environmental Enforcement Officers from East Hampshire District Council, who carry out enforcement across the district. You can find out more about this work, and about our Against Litter campaign to tackle issues of litter and dog fouling in the district on our Against Litter page. One of the amendments we are proposing will enable the Litter Enforcement Officers to enforce all aspects of the dog control PSPO, and not just dog fouling. This gives us more officers to deal with dog control issues.
A. Dogs are allowed in nearly all public spaces, but it is generally considered beneficial to have some designated areas where people can exercise or spend leisure time without dogs. For example, children's play areas.
Q. Why is Forestry Commission land not covered by the PSPO?
A. Feedback from the consultation will feed into our recommendations and help inform our final proposal. This will then be presented to the council's Environment Panel for consideration before being taken to the council's Cabinet for a final decision in September.
Q. When would the extension, with proposed changes, come into force?
A. You can find more information, including details of the current PSPO, on our dog advice and information page.