Dangerous dog offences guideline

Closed 9 Jun 2015

Opened 17 Mar 2015


The Sentencing Council issued a dangerous dog offences guideline in August 2012.[1] In May 2014 amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 were enacted through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014,[2] which made such substantial changes to the offence and the maximum penalties that the Council considered it would be appropriate to revise comprehensively the existing guideline.

The Council considered simply updating the existing guideline to reflect the amended legislation, particularly as overall numbers sentenced for these cases are low, but concluded that this option would not give sentencers adequate guidance because the changes were so wide ranging.

We have therefore drafted this revision of the guidelines on which we are now consulting. The principal changes are:

  • Extending the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to private property
  • Increasing the maximum penalties
  • Extending the law to cover attacks on assistance dogs
  • Dangerousness test

Which offences are covered by the guideline?

The Council carefully considered how to provide sentencing guidance for offences covered by the revised legislation, and decided that there should be five sub guidelines.

  • Dog dangerously out of control in any place causing the death of a person.
  • Dog dangerously out of control in any place where a person is injured.
  • Dog dangerously out of control in any place where an assistance dog is injured.
  • Dog dangerously out of control in any place. 
  • Possession of a prohibited dog, breeding, selling, exchanging or advertising a prohibited dog.


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