LURKING in the woods with his long lens camera waits a detective.

The sleuth hides in the shadows with bated breath ready to pounce on the next criminal.

He waits for painstaking hours to catch the bad guys and bring them to justice.

But prowling the woods of Flintshire is no ordinary detective.

This is a pooper snooper.

Thoughtless dog owners who let their pets foul the streets are the subject of a tough clampdown using surveillance techniques.

Covert cameras and undercover police officers are the latest weapon in the fight against dog fouling.

Pet owners could even be prosecuted if caught red-handed walking away from their dog’s mess.

Flintshire Council is using the groundbreaking new initiative to encourage pet owners to pick up after their pets.

Bosses would not divulge information on their clandestine movements but have issued a warning to the culprits.

Paul McGreary, head of public protection, told a meeting of the environment scrutiny committee: “We will be waiting around the corner or behind a tree and will catch these individuals using covert surveillance.

“There is a fear factor there and that is deliberate because we want people to know we are watching them.

“I want to send a very clear message out to the people who don’t listen to what we say.

“Twenty five years ago people did put their hands up to it but not anymore. Everyone has got a sob story to tell on how they didn’t intend for this to happen, but I’m hardened to that now.

“It’s about personal responsibility.”

Mr McGreary said they are working towards prosecution of irresponsible dog owners.

According to a report presented to members one Saltney man paid the price when he was slapped with a fine for £75 in May for letting his dog foul the pavement.

Enforcement officers are now working together with police to target hotspots including York Road in Connah’s Quay, First Avenue in Flint, Knowle Lane in Buckley and Celyn Park in Carmel.

It will coincide with Operation Pooper Snooper where police will patrol the streets, giving advice, leaflets and bags for the disposal of dog mess.

Shotton councillor Ann Minshull said this action is long overdue.

“I can walk around Deeside and see these bags hanging from the trees like Christmas decorations,” she said.

“I can’t see the point in picking it up then chucking it in the trees.”

Aston councillor George Hardcastle added: “When you get your foot in it when you step out of the car it’s not very nice.

“It’s very unsightly and unhealthy and we can do without it.”

Flint councillor Alex Aldridge said they key is to change attitudes towards dog fouling.

He said: “I’ve just come back from a holiday in Florida where there were signs asking people to take their trash home and they just do it without thinking. We need to change the mindset of the people.”

Email or phone 01352 703366 to report incidents of dog fouling.