1. ITV Report

Calls for action over 'infestation of rats'

People living in three streets in Reading claim they are being plagued by a 'massive' infestation of rats.

Residents from Anstey Road, Baker Street and Howard Street have now handed a petition to Reading Borough Council calling for action to be taken.

Residents living in parts are Reading are calling for action over what they say is 'an infestation of rats' Credit: ITV Meridian


The Council has a duty under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to take steps to secure so far as practicable that the borough is kept free from rats and mice. This includes carrying out inspections, destroying rats on its own land and by enforcing the duties of owners and occupiers.

In practice, this means that the Council cannot work in isolation to secure a reduction in rat populations, whether this is an issue impacting a single property or that of a wider area, as it needs to secure the engagement of residents and partners. This may be through providing advice and guidance, providing a pest control treatment service, working with partners such as Thames Water or ultimately, taking enforcement action to secure controls.

Officers have liaised with Thames Water who are carrying out a sewer baiting programme. This baiting programme will enable Thames Water to assess whether CCTV camera surveying is required and whether there is a likelihood of damage to either the surface water or foul water sewers. It will also help the Council identify the worst affected areas and the size of the issue.

Following the first two weeks of baiting, Thames Water have indicated that some works are being addressed and the baiting will continue. As part of the inspection of the area, officers identified some issues that have developed over many years which are contributing to the issue. Some of these cannot be dealt with by the Council and fall to individual owners to address. Officers however did identify a number of properties where some minor works are required and officers will be following this up with the owners/landlords of the properties.

Officers are working to arrange a door knock/letter drop in the area to provide advice to residents and this will be carried out soon. We are currently in the process of updating our advisory information. We have asked for residents help, to provide additional support to encourage responsible waste disposal and work with some residents we may not be able to reach during our visit to the area. We are also working with the Neighbourhoods team and BSANA to arrange an event to provide information and advice to residents.

This is a complex issue which has built up over many years without it necessarily being visible. The key to control is via a hierarchy of measures which starts with homeowners ensuring that rats cannot get into their property (proofing), denying food sources (waste management, removing bird feeding at night etc), reducing harbourage opportunities and then carrying out a structured programme of baiting. The legislation is clear that the responsibility for dealing with rats falls to the land owner, so it is essential owners take responsibility and understand that any enforcement action will be taken against them if they fail to manage their land appropriately.

What we can do:

  • Provide information and advice on rats to residents.
  • Speak with pest control companies treating in the area to try and co-ordinate their
  • Treatments and link this with any treatments the Council is carrying out in the area.
  • In some cases, take enforcement action where we have evidence of rats on owners land that they are failing to deal with.
  • Continue with street cleaning to reduce environmental food sources on the highway.
  • Advise residents on waste management and recycling and monitor the area to ensure compliance with waste legislation.
  • Work with Thames Water to ensure that any issues relating to their network are resolved.
  • Resolve issues on Council land.

What we can’t do:

  • Access all properties in the area and carry out proofing works or treatments unless residents request this as a paid for service.
  • Carry out an open public area baiting programme due to issues of access and risks of secondary poisoning to non-target species.
  • Survey private drains without the owner requesting this as a paid for service.
  • Rectify land use issues outside the councils control.