Just thought I would clarify a few things on the law. With regard to the RSPCA they, like other organisations have the ability to take action against people over issues that arise, as in the case of the dog, and get these cases to court. Similarly, individuals can take action against others, neigbours etc, for incidences such as the smoking situation I mentioned in an earlier post. These actions, usually classed under nuisance and the law of Tort, are usually taken through magistrates court and can, in some cases, lead to custodial sentences. However, depending on the severity cases can also be heard in crown courts.
There is no intermediary system of deciding whether cases going to court have any basis or not. Additionally, in most of the nuisance cases the onus is “guilty until you prove your innocence,” unlike the criminal code which is the reverse.
We also have several civil situation with optional penalties (the option being exercised by judges of course). For example, if you abandon your car for any reason, the penalty is decided between £2,500 in fines or 3 months in prison. Noise nuisance – the authorities have the power to remove the offending equipment, or take you to court, where other options come into play.
UK law is quite complex and in many areas can be seen to be quite irrational.