The Royal Parks has completed its review of its six-month pilot of commercial dog walking licences and decided to retain the scheme in its present form.
The pilot scheme was introduced in April 2013 to address concerns about an increase in commercial dog walking and reported incidents of some individuals not being able to control the animals in their care.
The licence scheme brought the dog walking industry in line with official park regulations, which require all commercial activity within the parks to have written permission.
The Royal Parks sought feedback from a number of stakeholders, including the Friends, and ran an open online survey for a month which received 228 responses. Headline results of the survey will be published on The Royal Parks website.
The main elements of the scheme will continue – ie each walker must have an annual licence (£300 plus £100 for vehicle parking in Richmond Park), wear a coloured armband to identify themselves, walk a maximum of 4 dogs and adhere to a code of conduct. The code of conduct is designed to minimise the impact on other park users and wildlife such as deer and wildfowl. Licence-holders must have insurance and a vet reference.
Based on the feedback, The Royal Parks will increase awareness of the scheme by improving communication both online and on signage around the parks.
Another concern raised from survey results was effective enforcement of Park Regulations regarding commercial dog walkers. The Police who enforce The Royal Parks regulations took a soft approach to enforcement during the pilot scheme, educating dog walkers rather than taking prosecutions. But they will take a firmer approach from January 2014, initiating the prosecution of persistent offenders.
Some 17 organisations have licences for Richmond Park.
You can read more on The Royal Parks’ website, including a list of licensed organisations, the code of conduct and a Q&A.