THE effectiveness of the private firm engaged by Scottish Borders Council to enforce dog fouling legislation has been called into question after it was revealed that just two fines have been issued in the region’s largest town in the past two months.

“Given the scale of the problem in parts of my ward, this shows the council’s current strategy is simply not working,” said Councillor Stuart Marshall (Ind, Hawick and Denholm).

And he told the Border Telegraph: “We are clearly not winning the war on dog fouling.”

At this month’s council meeting, Mr Marshall had asked for details of the fixed penalty notices handed out in Hawick to dog owners by private firm 3GS.

He also wanted to know what changes that company had effected since being contracted by the council last summer for a one-year pilot period to enforce both dog fouling and litter legislation.

“Many people believe the two dog wardens employed by the firm give a very poor level of performance,” he stated.

Councillor David Paterson, SBC’s executive member for environmental services, said his department had received no complaints about the performance of these enforcement officers.

And he said there would be a “full evaluation” of the pilot after it ended on May 31.

“The work of the enforcement officers is targeted and based on intelligence held by the council and the provider [3GS],” explained Mr Paterson. “This work is overseen by one of our Neighbourhood Services managers who analyses reports on a weekly basis to ensure the resource is used to best effect.

“Getting accurate and detailed information on offenders is key to enforcement activity and I would urge everyone to provide as much detail as possible when reporting offenders.

“I should also stress that, apart from enforcement, a large part of our strategy includes the education of dog owners and the promotion of responsible dog ownership.”

Mr Paterson said he would provide Mr Marshall with the number of recent fines issued in Hawick after the meeting.

“Since the meeting, I have been extremely disappointed to learn that only two dog fouling tickets have been issued in Hawick in the past two months which is completely disproportionate to the scale of the problem,” said Mr Marshall.

“Even if there is a low level of direct reporting of these offences, the council must surely be aware that its strategy is not working.”

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information response from the council has revealed that

54 fines issued by 3GS for dog fouling and litter offences across the region are currently outstanding.

“The costs incurred in the recovery of these will vary from case to case,” states the response.