Dog attacks on posties more than double

Dog attacks on Royal Mail posties have increased in Essex by 58% Picture: PA ARCHIVE

Dog attacks on Royal Mail posties have increased in Essex by 58% Picture: PA ARCHIVE - Credit: Press Association

Dog attacks on postal workers in north Essex increased by 58% on the previous year, statistics from Royal Mail have revealed.

The shocking figures highlight the “major problem” ahead of the Christmas rush where thousands of temporary people are employed by the postal operator to cope with bulging mail bags.

The number of dog attacks on posties in the CO postcode in Essex – which covers Colchester, Sudbury, Harwich, Manningtree, Clacton, Halstead and surrounding areas – jumped from 26 in 2016/17 to 41 in 2017/18.

Suffolk also saw an increase, with 29 dog attacks reported in 2017/18 in the IP postcode, covering Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Woodbridge, and Felixstowe among others, compared with 27 in 2016/17.

Dave Joyce, who is the national health and safety officer for the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and spearheads the union’s ‘Bite-Back’ campaign, said the problem is getting worse.

“In some parts of the country, we are seeing numbers on the up,” he said. “That’s why we are encouraging our members to report incidents, because a lot of it does go unreported.

“We estimate the Royal Mail national figures to be around 1,000 attacks down on the true statistics. We’ve got a major problem.”

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Last month, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee’s report called for a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy to better protect the public.

The committee said an alternative dog control model should be developed, focusing on prevention though education, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders.

Mr Joyce, who gave extensive evidence to the committee, urged the Government to accept those recommendations and put them into action.

“There is an unacceptably high number of postal workers who are victims as well as children and members of the public, who suffer horrific life-changing injuries in these incidents as well as psychological distress,” he said.

“The issue of breed specific legislation is a diversion away from the real problem of irresponsible owners.

“Postal workers get attacked by every breed and sundry and banning certain breeds has achieved nothing. The problem is on the other end of the lead.

“The Government needs to focus on dealing with that problem.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail, which ran its sixth dog awareness week in June, said: “Royal Mail knows that dogs are not inherently dangerous, but, even the most placid animal can be prone to attack if it feels it or its territory is being threatened.

“Royal Mail’s first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers across the length and breadth of the UK and in every community.”

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