Royal Mail chiefs have indicated US-style post boxes could soon be rolled out across the UK to prevent postal workers being attacked by dogs, The Telegraph has learned.

Officials said plans are being drawn up to encourage customers with aggressive dogs to purchase boxes opened via a QR code as an alternative to letters being pushed through doors.

It comes as the Royal Mail publishes a report which found the number of dog attacks on postmen and women has fallen by almost a third in the past year, mainly due to changes to deliveries because of the pandemic.

According to the report, there were 1,690 dog incidents, compared with 2,445 in 2019/20, but the company said the number of attacks is still too high, with 33 every week, some of which led to permanent and disabling injuries.

During the lockdown restrictions, Royal Mail workers launched contact-free delivery, enabling workers to take letters and parcels to the doorstep while adhering to social distancing measures, which resulted in less attacks.

New solutions ‘not mainstream yet’

Dr Shaun Davies, from the Royal Mail, told The Telegraph the postal service was looking to "build" on the encouraging figures with discussions under way to find alternatives to posting through letterboxes.

He said: "In terms of what we can do to build on reducing dog attacks on postal workers, we are looking at options. There are externally mounted post boxes or there are locker-style post boxes where the customer could give a pin number or a QR code.

"They are quite popular in the US, but you can get them here. They are just being discovered, but are not mainstream yet."

The locker-style boxes are available to buy on Amazon from £149 after first emerging in New York around five years ago.

Mr Davies said any final decision would have to be discussed with Ofcom.

"We wouldn’t mandate it and we don’t endorse products but we might tell customers struggling with a nervous or aggressive dog that they may want to consider this option," he added.  

Dog attacks resulted in more than 900 days of absence from Royal Mail postal workers in 2020 and 2021 so far, with most incidents reported in Brighton, Sheffield, Belfast, Portsmouth, Ipswich, Tunbridge Wells and Gloucester.

Following changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act in England and Wales that came into force in 2014, Royal Mail has carried out more than 25 private prosecutions against dog owners.