OWNERS of dogs that attack postman should be prosecuted as criminals, according to an independent report.

The proposals come after there were 20 attacks recorded on postman by dogs in Warrington between April 2011 and April 2012, and more than 3000 nationwide.

Royal Mail has now welcomed the findings of the inquiry which recommends that tougher sanctions should be put in place to prosecute owners.

Sir Gordon Langley, is a former High Court Judge who led the inquiry, He said: “It is a matter of real concern to learn of the extent and frequency of attacks on postal workers and to find that for a considerable time there has been almost general agreement not only on the inadequacies of the present law in England and Wales but also on the nature of the reforms required to address it, but to date it remains unchanged.”

Under current legislation tougher measures are available against owners whose dogs attack people in public places.

However, these sanctions cannot be applied where the attack takes place on private property, with penalties often restricted to the dog, whether that be a control order or destruction.

The Langley Report calls on Parliament to repeal current legislation. It is pushing for heavier penalties including suspension of delivery for any addresses where dog attacks occur, and criminal prosecution against owners.

Warrington North MP Helen Jones was once bitten by a dog when delivering election information.

She said: "I know how painful this can be.

“ Responsible dog owners make sure that their pets cannot do harm to others.

“I believe that anyone who has a dog should either have a cage fitted behind their letter box or have a letter box on the wall outside to prevent anyone being bitten.”

Donald Brydon, chairman of the Royal Mail Group, 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.

We have also taken on board his comments that Royal Mail should take a more robust approach with customers whose dogs attack postmen and women. We will adjust our policies immediately.”