Local councils are losing the war against dog fouling, new research has confirmed, as the number of fines handed out to inconsiderate pet owners fell by a fifth last year.
A third of the local authorities in England and Wales failed to issue a single fine for dog fouling in 2014-15, a poll revealed, and one sixth of councils have not issued any for five years on the trot.
Figures obtained by BBC Radio Five Live under freedom of information laws showed 2,868 fixed penalty notices were handed out in the year compared with 3,521 in the previous 12 months, a fall of 18.5 per cent.
In 2011-2012 councils issued just over 3,800 notices, which can range between £50 and £100.
The number of fines is declining even though councils last year received more than 74,000 complaints about dog fouling.
Sheffield City Council, which handed out no fines last year despite receiving more than 1,400 complaints, said it did not have the resources to patrol parks 24 hours a day.
A spokesman said: "We need evidence if we are going to issue fines.
"In these times of austerity we simply do not have staff available to patrol Sheffield's parks around the clock, waiting for an offence to be committed."
He added: “If a person is alleged to have allowed their dog to foul and not cleaned up, we will contact that person and give advice.”
Just over 300 of the 348 local authorities in England and Wales provided data and of those 103 did not hand out any fines last year.
The investigation also revealed 48 had not handed any out for five years, including Swindon, Bournemouth, East Hertfordshire and the London boroughs of Bexley and Merton.
A spokesman for Keep Britain Tidy said: “These figures are disappointing.
“If we are to eradicate the problem of dog fouling, we need to combine enforcement with campaigns and education in order to change the behaviour of that small minority who think it's okay to leave their mess for others to stand in, push a pram through or fall into while playing in the park.”