Thursday, December 03, 2009

More fatal negligence from the British police

The dog that mauled a four-year-old boy to death in Liverpool was a pitbull terrier-type outlawed under the Dangerous Dogs Act, police said yesterday. Jean-Paul Massey died from multiple injuries when the animal attacked him early on Monday at the home of his grandmother, Helen Foulkes. The dog was shot dead by a police marksman in the front garden. Investigations into the incident are continuing.

A post-mortem examination has determined that the animal, named Uno, was an illegally bred pitbull. The finding opens the way to a criminal investigation, and possible charges.

Police officers have admitted that they received information in February from a housing officer that the house where Mrs Foulkes lived with the dead boy’s uncle was being used to breed dogs but failed to take action.

Deputy Chief Constable Patricia Gallan said: “Our thoughts remain with Jean-Paul’s family at this time following his tragic death. A child’s life has been lost and it is essential that we determine the exact circumstances surrounding the attack. “We have been able to confirm that it is an illegal type of dog. We are conducting a criminal investigation.”

Angela McGlynn, Jean-Paul’s mother, placed a bouquet of 12 red roses outside the house where her son died. In a note, she wrote: “To my beautiful, beautiful boy, an angel who will never be forgotten. I just can’t believe this has happened to my baby, my beautiful little boy. I will love you forever and a day. I miss you, love Mummy xxx”. Other tributes referred to “JP”, a “sweet, innocent and lovable little man”.

Angela Smith, MP for Sheffield Hillsborough, believes the tragedy has demonstrated why the existing law, enacted in a hurry 18 years ago, is inadequate.

She told The Times that fresh legislation targeting the deed rather than the breed should be in the Labour Party’s election manifesto. “This is one of the appalling social problems that we need to tackle swiftly,” she said. “It needs to be tackled as anti-social behaviour”. Merseyside Police has referred the force’s failure to act on the tip-off to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Mrs Gallan said: “I am deeply concerned and very disappointed that our policy was not followed in February when we received a call alerting us to the possible breeding of pitbull terriers at the house where the attack took place. This is clearly unacceptable and we are sorry that Merseyside Police did not take the appropriate course of action at that time. As a matter of urgency we began an immediate internal investigation to establish exactly what led to that call not being brought to the attention of our specialist dog unit. “We take the issue of dangerous dogs very seriously and there is no place for them on the streets of Merseyside.

“During the last three years we have taken action to take dangerous dogs off the streets. We are determined to continue our work to ensure the safety of people living, working and visiting Merseyside.”

Naseem Malik, IPCC regional director for the North West, said: “Although Merseyside Police has been very open in admitting the failure, I have decided it is in the public interest for the IPCC to independently investigate this matter.

“I fully appreciate the concern felt on Merseyside and around the country about the issue of dangerous dogs. We need to determine exactly what went wrong in this case to ensure lessons can be learned for the future.”

Original report here

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