ENFORCEMENT action to protect Royal Mail workers from the risk of dangerous dogs will be increased following a behind-closed-doors meeting held at Barnsley Town Hall, the Chronicle can reveal.

Representatives from South Yorkshire Police, Barnsley Council and Royal Mail met last week after the town - and in particular Athersley - was identified as a blackspot for attacks on delivery staff.

Barnsley is the second-worst place in the country for the rate of attacks and a data-gathering project saw 167 dogs identified on just one round in Athersley - 60 of which were deemed to be potentially dangerous.

Last week’s meeting has been described as ‘positive’ by Royal Mail bosses in the town, who brought the matter to the police’s attention at crime meetings held in Athersley earlier this year.

Simon Lally, delivery manager at the Pitt Street distribution hub in the town centre, said: “It was a very good meeting and as the first one of its kind, one that we can build on and as long as everyone follows through their verbal commitments we should see some reduced risk in Athersley.

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“Another positive outcome was the exchange of information regarding possible enforcement action and also the evidence we would need to supply the police with to secure some swift action.

“The meeting was very well attended with police sergeants, the dog legislation officer, dangerous dog identification officer, local community safety and enforcement officers, councillors, Berneslai Homes staff and us.

“I think we have the basis for further action and the police will be trying to secure some funding for proactive action, namely leaflet drops and enforcement action against offenders.

“We are thrashing out something between Royal Mail and the police so when we formally meet again in June, hopefully we will have made some considerable steps forward.”

One measure being looked at by bosses involved in the project is the potential scrapping of dog owners’ tenancies with Berneslai Homes if their pets have caused injury to a worker.

An information-gathering exercise is continuing and, according to figures obtained by the Chronicle, Athersley’s higher-than-average rate of dogs per round continues to be a concern, hence why more work is being done there as opposed to other areas in the town.

“One thing we did identify this last week, through our own internal processes, was the fact that whilst we have on average 25 to 30 dogs per delivery round,” Simon added.

“We have 109 walks in Barnsley, each with approximately 1,100 delivery points. In Athersley we have 309 dogs on one route and 230 on another - enlightening figures to say the least.”

Sgt Dave Baines added: “We’re aware of addresses and it’s imperative that this work, involving the police, Royal Mail and the council continues.

“We’ve knocked on doors and hopefully we’ll start seeing an improvement.

“There’s different legislation in place now so if you’re on someone’s land and are bitten by a dog, we can act accordingly.”