Barking the law: Worst places in the UK for dog fouling

Let’s face it, while there’s a lot to love about our favourite four-legged friends, picking up their leavings and then carrying them around until you find an appropriate bin is definitely the least glamorous part of owning a dog.

Thankfully, most dog owners understand their responsibility, making sure no unsuspecting passer-by accidentally steps in their dog’s mess. But we all know that not every poop gets scooped.
So, to see just where in the UK is worst for neglecting pooches’ number twos, we sent collected information from councils across the UK and Northern Ireland, asking for the number of reports, fixed penalty notices (FPNs)[1], prosecutions and fines relating to dog fouling for the years 2017-2021.

With this information to hand, we did some digging to uncover exactly which UK city is the worst for dog fouling. Read on for the results and to find out about some common dog regulations owners may overlook.

The worst place in the UK for dog fouling

Our findings reveal that Glasgow is the worst place for dog fouling – by a long way. Over the last five years, Glasgow Council received over 10,000 reports of dog fouling – an average of 2,131 reports per year. That’s double the reports Northumberland, in second place, received.

The county had 5,313 reports, giving it a total average of 1,328 per year. This is slightly higher than Manchester, which comes third, reporting 1,168 incidents on average.

As for other major councils in the dog-fouling league, Belfast comes in fourth with an average of 1,075 reports in the last five years, closely followed by North Lanarkshire, with a total of 3,960 and an annual average of 990.

Looking at the map, the north is more prone to dog fouling than the south; though given its natural beauty, it’s no surprise that there might be more incidents thanks to forgetful walkers.
But do dog owners in these places get as many fines as there are reports?

The most likely places in the UK to receive a fixed penalty notice

Glasgow tops our list for the most dog fouling reports, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that dog owners here also received the most FPNs for not clearing up after their pets.

Roughly a quarter of reported dog fouling incidents resulted in an FPN, with 2,563 recorded over the last five years. This might not seem like much, but given how tricky it is to prove whether somebody’s dog is responsible for a particular incident, a quarter is rather impressive.

Glasgow also outstrips the next place where dog owners are most likely to receive an FPN by quite a high margin. Clydach Vale comes in second place with 905 FPNs, compared with Barnsley, which comes third with only 514.

But what about prosecutions for dog fouling?

Interestingly, most dog owners in Glasgow decide to pay the FPNs given to them rather than face prosecution. In fact, Glasgow doesn’t even make the top 20 councils for prosecutions delivered.
Instead, first place is taken by Barnsley, where 70 owners were prosecuted for dog fouling in the last five years. Clydach Vale, where 68 dog owners were prosecuted, is in close second.

The most common dog-related laws overlooked by owners

Along with our FOI requests, we also conducted a survey of 1,000 dog owners across the UK to see how many of them followed the most common dog-related laws. As it turns out, many owners aren’t even aware that doing – or not doing – certain things constitutes breaking the law.

One in ten dog owners are unsure of or totally unaware of UK laws relating to dogs in public places. And one in three dog owners don’t know that not picking up their pooch’s poop in public spaces is against the law.

Shockingly, one in 25 owners never pick up their dog’s poo.
Owners can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of up to £100 or a fine of £1000 for breaking the rules around dog fouling.
As for keeping your dog on a lead, which is required by law if specified by signs, one in six owners walk their dog off the lead wherever they go. And over one in six will allow their dog off its lead in designated areas when not completely in control of their dog’s behaviour.

If a dog is out of control in a public place, there can be serious consequences for owners, from being fined up to £5,000 to being banned from owning pets or even prison.
But while some of these rules might seem trivial, many are in place to protect your dog as well as the local area and members of the public.

Picking up your dog’s poo might not be the most pleasant experience, but it’s hard to argue that it’s not important. Clean green spaces are part of what makes walking your dog such a relaxing experience, and nothing can ruin that quicker than messing up your favourite pair of trainers.

Brought to you by the pet insurance experts at Comparethemarket.


[1] Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN): FPNs are issued as an alternative to prosecution in court and offer the offender the opportunity to discharge their liability for an offence. A person can be taken to court if they fail to pay an FPN, a larger fine and a criminal record can both be given if someone is found guilty. FPNs can be issued to anyone over 10 years old.

FOI requests were sent out to councils across the UK and Northern Ireland, asking for the number of reports, FPNs (Fixed Penalty Notices), prosecutions, and fines, relating to dog fouling since 2017. Responses from 116 councils were received, after the FOI requests were gathered, they were merged together into one dataset. Pivot tables were then used to aggregate the data across each council area and each year.

In total three tables were produced to showcase the 3 different metrics. The first table shows the number of reports, split by council area, for each year. The second table shows the number of FPNs, split by council area, for each year. The third table shows the number of prosecutions, split by council area, for each year. Each table also shows the total number and the average number of each metric, for each council area. The council areas were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on the average.

If data was unavailable, it was represented with "-", instead of "0", where the given value was "0".

All data presented is correct as of 26/09/2022.

Survey of 1,000 dog owners conducted by TLF in August 2022 by TLF.