MORE than 170 of the region’s postmen and women were attacked by dogs in the space of just one year.

The news comes as an independent report published today (November 23) calls for tougher punishment for the owners of dogs who attack postal workers.

Between April 2011 and April 2012, more than 3,000 people were attacked by dogs across the UK as they delivered mail.

Of those, 87 were in the NE postcode area centred on Tyneside, 29 were in the DL code area which covers Darlington, 27 were in the TS area of Teesside, 17 in the DH area which covers most of County Durham and 13 in the SR area of Wearside.

An inquiry, led by former High Court Judge Sir Gordon Langley, recommends new laws be introduced with tougher legal sanctions against owners of dangerous dogs.

The report highlights that while there are laws against the owners of dogs who attack in public places, sanctions for an attack on private property in England and Wales are largely directed against the dog itself, such as an order for it to be put down.

The Langley Report calls on Parliament to repeal current legislation and remove the loophole, enabling criminal sanctions to be taken against owners of dogs which attack people, wherever the attack takes place.

Such new laws have already been introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report also calls for the compulsory microchipping of all dogs within three years – to enable dangerous dogs and their owners to be more easily identified.

Donald Brydon, chairman of Royal Mail Group, welcomed the report’s findings.

He said: "Dog attacks cause injuries and terrible trauma to our staff. Nobody should have to endure this and our staff are at an increased risk of such attacks simply because of the job they do".