The Metropolitan Police force is coming under fire again – this time for their refusal to disclose the cost to the taxpayer of enforcing the failed Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991.
Anti BSL organisation DDAWatch requested the figures under the Freedom of Information Act on the 21st June 2010. Part of the request asked for the total cost to the Metropolitan police of kennelling, legal, transport and veterinary fees and any other associated costs related to holding dogs seized under the DDA between 1-1-2010 and 1-6-2010. DDAWatch, who monitor the legislation and assist owners affected by its enforcement have asked the same question on several occasions over a number of years and until this month it has always been given – so what has changed?
In the response given by Alex Norrie, Information Manager for the Met it states
“While it is accepted that accountability and demonstrating transparency in the use of public funds is a strong factor favouring disclosure, by disclosing the requested information, the commercial interests of a third
party may be compromised, along with the relationship the MPS has with
that party, and the MPS' own commercial interests. This would have a
corresponding effect on the ability of MPS to secure value for money in
I have therefore determined that greater weight must be given to
protecting the commercial interests of the third party and the MPS in this
instance. As such, it is my decision that the public interest favours
non-disclosure at this time.”
However Alison Green of DDAWatch says
“It’s almost laughable! We are in the middle of a recession, police forces across the country are having their budgets cut and losing police officers as a result yet we are told disclosing the cost to the taxpayer for enforcing this law is not in the public interest?
How can it compromise the interests of the third parties when the identities of those third parties are unknown? We have not asked where dogs are held or who provides the vet care. We have asked how much this legislation, which is failing spectacularly, is costing and they are more worried about protecting their “commercial interests”.
We will be appealing the decision and intend to take it as far as we need to in order that full disclosure on costs is given.”
The refusal will add to the mounting campaign to secure a repeal of the draconian Dangerous Dogs Act. DDAWatch held a very successful Vigil for Victims of Breed Specific Legislation on 24th July 2010 which was broadcast by the national media and have seen their support base steadily rise.