ROYAL Mail has welcomed an independent report proposing tougher legal sanctions against owners of dogs which attack postmen and women.

The announcement comes after the publication of an inquiry into dog attacks on postal workers recommended tougher action.

In the BB postcode area, covering Blackburn and Burnley, 22 posties were attacked by dogs while delivering mail between April 2011 and April 2012.

Nationally, more than 3,000 were attacked during the same period.

The figures have reduced in previous years, with 31 attacks reported in the BB postcode area in 2010-11 and 41 in 2009-10.

Tougher measures are available under existing law against owners whose dogs attack people in public places.

But, these sanctions cannot be applied where the attack takes place on private property.

This means that for postmen and women — who each have to visit hundreds of private addresses on their delivery rounds every day — the legal protection against attacks by dogs is limited.

The report calls for the removal of this loophole, enabling criminal sanctions to be taken against owners of dogs which attack people, wherever the attack takes place.

Dave Joyce, the national health and safety officer of the Communication Workers Union, which represents postal workers, said: “The age-old image of the dog attacking the postman is not a laughing matter — thousands of our members are bitten every year and hundreds suffer debilitating injuries which leave them with physical and psychological scarring.”