An MP has suggested the council should get tougher on foxes after one resident was bitten in the face while he slept.

Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, said she had received letters from her constituents complaining about foxes lurking in their gardens.

One woman wrote to Ms Hoey saying a fox had got into her home through the cat flap, ran upstairs and bitten a young man in the face while he was sleeping.

Another family reported feeling unsafe in their own garden and were forced to keep their back door shut.

Writing in The Evening Standard, Ms Hoey said the government should re-classify foxes as "pests" in order to provide local councils with greater powers to remove them.

She said: "The problem will only keep on growing until ministers and local authorities work out a proper way of dealing with it.

"I do understand there is no simple solution - but what I find staggering is that any suggestions or ideas are met by abuse from those who consider animals to be more important than people.

"We need at the very least to be able to classify these increasingly confident animals as pests. If we can't do that, surely the word has lost all meaning."

But in Lambeth, the council claims culling foxes is "expensive, difficult to carry out and rarely successful".

A spokesman for Lambeth council said residents concerned about foxes should contact the council's Animal Welfare Officer for advice.

He said: "The most humane and long-term solution to discourage your garden is to remove or prevent access to what attracts them to the area, and that includes only putting out rubbish on the day of collection, not leaving out food, cleaning away fallen fruit trees, and clearing overgrown areas of the garden where foxes can shelter. There are also a number of repellents people can use."

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