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10 November 2010, 06:00
Dozens of people in Milton Keynes have contacted a private detective agency - to tell them about dog owners who aren't cleaning up after their pets properly.
Black Cat Investigations launched the Community Dog Fouling Initiative (or CDFI) last week. Its aim is to catch people who allow their dogs to foul in public places - and then don't put the mess in a bin or take it with them.
The detective agency will use a number of 'agents' to gather evidence, using technology including Night Vision Cameras. It's hoped the footage will convince those responsible to change their ways - but if they continue to leave the mess behind, their details will be passed on to Milton Keynes Council for further investigation. Owners could face a fine of up to £1,000 if they're prosecuted.
Since last week's launch more than 30 people have contacted the detective agency with information about owners who aren't pooper-scooping as they should be, and several people have volunteered to go undercover and help gather the evidence.
Mark Halstead - who owns Black Cat Investigations and is running the CDFI as a voluntary initiative - says the plan is to look in to about four or five cases a week.
So far, they've already carried out surveillance at a school in the new city, where dogs were being allowed to foul out-of-hours:
"We've put up a couple of covert cameras - obviously bearing in mind the legislation for safeguarding children. Hopefully the cameras will start to pay dividends and catch these people in the act, allowing their dog to run riot. So when the kids get to school on a Monday morning, they're not going in to the class with a nice surprise for their teacher."
Mr Halstead hopes the initiative will act as a preventative measure, meaning people won't risk leaving the mess in the first place:
"We shouldn't have to go out there and take pictures of people not cleaning up after their dogs. We want people to say, 'Well, if the CDFI are floating around here with cameras and with covert investigators, maybe I should just bag my dog mess and take it home.'"
If you want to find out more about the Community Dog Fouling Initiative, click here
Let us know what you think about the idea here.