Case study 17. CPW when woman’s dog ran up to another dog

(Statement from CPN recipient) ‘My CPW was in relation to our dog running across to play with another dog, and the CPW alleges that he is an unpredictable out-of-control dog who is a problem to the community. This is not true, and stems from one person’s accusations made to the police after our dog went across to play with his dog.

My dog is mild mannered, has no behavioural issues and is no cause for concern. You could not meet a softer and more docile dog. We always walk him on the lead. As we were walking, we met some people with their dogs who we see from time to time and the dogs have met. I slipped on wet ground and our dog ran over to say hello to the other people and dogs. Again, no cause for concern – it’s what dogs do.

What we couldn’t predict is what happened next: one of the people picked up his dog, started shouting loudly and spinning around. I regained the lead quickly and then the person who picked his dog up, leant over me and started punching my dog. He knocked me to the floor and was on top of me punching my dog which was preventing me from getting up to help my dog or regain the lead. This person was holding his dog while punching my dog, and he dropped his dog and also fell on his dog. There is CCTV footage from a business some distance away, with poor resolution which compresses distance and motion giving poor resolution which supports this account.

Subsequent to this, this person is claiming for injuries to his dog and himself and we have received a letter from a ‘no win no fee’ solicitor after we were issued with the CPW. The solicitor’s letter appears to be relying heavily on the CPW to apportion blame and does not evidence any injury.

In terms of the CPW and the process with the police:

Day 10 after the incident, I received a phone call from a police officer and explained my version of events. I explained what happened and told the officer that I did not see my dog inflict any injury to the other person or his dog. I also told the officer that the other person has come to my house on several occasions pressuring me to pay his costs and admit liability. I also told the officer that I was in fear of being assaulted, was effectively pinned to the ground so I could not help my dog or regain the lead. While this person was punching my dog, my dog was doing nothing. The officer told me that if I didn’t hear from him again, that I should consider the matter closed.

Day 92 – 3 months after the first phone call from the police, a police officer visited our property, without warning or any prior conversations and handed me a CPW. As far as I was concerned, the matter was closed as this was some 3 months after the event, so I was very shocked as I am not used to having police show up at our house and have never heard of a CPW.

The officer was not interested in my version of events and seemed to be siding with the other person’s account of the incident. The officer said that there had been a dog bite. He said that the other person’s dog had been bitten (no evidence of this has been presented to me) and he mentioned that the person had been bitten (again no evidence of this has been presented to me). We asked what evidence the police had to support this and he said that the other person has evidence but he/the police had not seen it.

He said he was relying on the CCTV footage, but the CCTV does not show any evidence of our dog biting the other person or his dog or in fact any injury to the person and his dog. You can see his dog walking away from the incident. Furthermore, distances are compressed, motion is skipped and the resolution is not clear.

I told the officer that I was in fear of assault, that I was pinned to the ground avoiding punches to my dog and could not get back up off the ground to help my dog and regain the lead – he ignored this point. I said that this person was harassing me asking me for money, admittance of liability and payment of whatever costs are incurred by him. He concluded by saying that he / the police had made their decision and it was final regardless of what I had to say.

I asked for information regarding the process of issuing the CPW, requested a review and any appeals process and he mentioned that he did not know the process – he did say that he would get back to us, but he never did and we received no information in this regard.

The issuance of the CPW seemed biased and disproportionate, especially when the officer did not speak with me before the CPW was issued, did not want to hear my version of events and dismissed them, had no evidence and could not explain any process for review, discussion or appeal.

A week or so later I sent a complaint to the police Complaints section on the website. This seemed to be the only way to have a formal process for someone to respond.

About 2 weeks after my email to the police complaints, I received an email from the complaints department mentioning that they had reviewed the officer’s notes and agreed with them. Furthermore, if we didn’t accept and sign the CPW, we would be prosecuted. This was completely out of the blue as we had never been asked to sign the CPW when it was issued. Furthermore, our complaint was a plea to request more information regarding the process of issuing the CPW, lack of discussion, an appeals process and evidence. This was immediately shut down and threatened with prosecution, implying that asking questions would only make things worse. This felt like a complete stitch up.

I emailed back – frightened of prosecution – to say that I did accept the CPW and had been following all the conditions. We had found a product that satisfied the condition that was a concern. I felt like I had no choice as the approach was very heavy handed. The complaints officer then wrote back to say that prosecutions are rare and I didn’t need to sign it, which contradicted the initial position of threatening prosecution.

About 2 weeks later, I sent an email to the complaints officer (as I have no way of contacting the investigating officers) to say that I was experiencing continued harassment from the other person. The complaints officer said the department would convey this to the investigating officer.

Several weeks had passed and a police officer came to my property without a call or notice, to tell me that I had a time window for one of the conditions from the date of original issuance of the CPW. I said that I had satisfied this condition and that I was observing all the conditions, but I reiterated that I had not received any information regarding the process of the issuance of the CPW, a chance of appeal, and no evidence had been supplied regarding dog bites, no communication regarding the harassment for money and me being pinned to the ground being prevented from helping my dog. The officer had no knowledge of my request or version of events.

A day or so later, the officer called me back and told me that she had reviewed the notes on file and CCTV footage and that the police were not interested in my view of events. When I said that I disagreed and that my view of events and context were relevant, I was accused of calling the police liars. I repeated that there is no evidence of any dog bites and I feared being punched and the other person was on top of me preventing me from protecting my dog or regaining the lead. When I asked for more information regarding the process and review of the CPW, the officer said, did you lie to me when you said you understood the CPW. I mentioned that I did understand the CPW, but I am asking for information regarding the process. I said that I thought it was a reasonable request and under the Freedom of Information Act surely, I should be able to ask for and receive the information regarding the process and evidence held. She told me this was a police matter and I have no right to the information and that the police have no need to provide any information or any evidence to me. It was clear to me that I was just being shut down.

Now, one year later, the other person is still pursuing a ‘no win no fee’ claim and is now trying to claim for PTSD. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of a bite or injury, he never visited a hospital and never took any time off work, he is still pursuing it. His solicitor has leveraged the CPW despite the fact that the CPW did not undergo any due process or investigation. Our solicitor has also confirmed that there is no evidence of any injury. It’s a good example of how the CPW is being misused by people for financial compensation and this should not be allowed.’