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CONTACT YOUR MP/MSP/MLA
Following on from the recent petition we are asking you all to email or write to your MP, MLA in Northern Ireland, MSP in Scotland
If you need help finding out who your MP/MLA/MSP is, you can use this link: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP
Here is the suggested letter:
Re: Petition – Repeal Breed Specific Legislation
As a member of your constituency, I wanted to let you know why I am asking for changes to Breed Specific Legislation, the debate is taking place on June 6th 2022 and I ask that you to support my views as your constituent, in person [insert brief reasons here].
I am writing to you following the Petitions Committee's 21 September 2021 response to e-petition 300561, "Replace Breed Specific Legislation with a new statutory framework” (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300561) and the government's 22 October 2021 response to that.
(https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7727/documents/80575/default/). There are two crucial points I would like to bring to your attention about important inaccuracies in the government's responses in the July 2021 debate and in its October 2021 written response on the recent petitions calling for changes to legislation regarding specific types of dogs.
There is currently yet another e-petition (603988) in action, "Repeal Breed Specific Legislation" (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/603988), launched 21 December 2021, which already has now been scheduled for debate on 6th June 2022, having reached over 100,000 signatures, in it's first month. I wanted to highlight these two concerns about the inaccuracies in the government's previous responses for the Committee's consideration ahead of the next debate on the matter. The written response to this also states "Furthermore, according to information from the Metropolitan Police, nearly 20 per cent of dogs found to be dangerously out of control in Greater London were pit bulls."
At the petition debate on July 5th, Victoria Prentis MP, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated:
"The Metropolitan police tell us that nearly 20% of the dogs found to be dangerously out of control in the area that they police were pit bull types."
Yet the numbers from a recent FOI response received from the Met Police do not back Ms Prentice's statement, with two of the three most recent years demonstrating that the percentage of dangerous-dog cases that had been Pitbull types was actually sub-10% and, in the case of 2020, less than 15% (and certainly not "nearly 20%"): in fact the average is 10.3%
Year Percentage of dangerous dog cases involving Pit Bull Type dogs
Source: FOI received from the Met Police 26th August 2021, Met Police ref: 01/FOI/020663
I do not purport to say whether Parliament was misled or not on this matter, although I believe, at the very least, the public records of the debate should be corrected, and the facts reconsidered. The main point, however, is that the stated proportion of attacks coming from Pit Bull types, appears to have been greatly exaggerated in the government's response to Parliament.
At the petition debate on July 5th, Victoria Prentis stated:
"We have a very small pit bull population that contributes disproportionately to sometimes tragic incidents."
In the government's written response to the Committee's 21 September 2021 response, the Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural affairs, stated:
"This represents around 1 in 6 incidents, despite our very small population of pit bull types resulting from the current prohibitions."
Subsequently, however, in its FOI response 24 November 2021, DEFRA said that it does not have any information on what is the size of the pit bull population actually is:
"We can confirm that this information is not held by DEFRA. We do not hold information on the number of pit bull type dogs in the canine population. We only hold information on the number of pit bull type dogs registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs."
Source: FOI response received by DEFRA 24 November 2021. Reference FOI2021/26921
I would therefore question how the Secretary of State presented his remarks to the Select Committee as fact when DEFRA actually has no underlying information to support his assertions. He bases his percentage conclusions upon an overall population that is unknown. It would be useful to know, therefore, what data sources the Secretary of State used to reach his conclusions.
The recent research conducted by Middlesex University in collaboration with DEFRA also overwhelmingly supports the idea of responsible dog ownership, it shows that the current Breed Specific Legislation does not lead to decreased injuries from dog bites. It is obvious that whilst the authorities concentrate on removing dogs from homes due to their appearance it leaves little resources to tackle the problem of lack of responsibility in owning a dog.
As the previous debate and written responses are based on inaccurate data I ask that you support the recent petition receiving a full debate as it has now reached the 100,000 signatures mark.
Thank you for your time, I look forward to receiving your considered response.