Police horses could return to Essex
POLICE horses could be returning to the fight crime on the streets of Essex after a seven-year absence, it has emerged.Chief Constable Roger Baker is bidding to return a full-time mounted unit to the county after describing the horses as a “vital crime fighting tool”.
By Annie Davidson
POLICE horses could be returning to the fight crime on the streets of Essex after a seven-year absence, it has emerged.
Chief Constable Roger Baker is bidding to return a full-time mounted unit to the county after describing the horses as a “vital crime fighting tool”.
The force will present a business case to Essex Police Authority in December seeking the revival of the unit.
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It could comprise of eight horses within the first two years, with seven police officers, support staff, new vehicles and a modern leased facility in the Chelmsford area.
The horses would be used for “pro-active policing issues” such as public reassurance and high visibility to public order enforcement at football matches.
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They would also be deployed for public events, searches, rural and neighbourhood policing as well as patrols in business parks and industrial areas. Anti-social behaviour in town centres during weekend evenings would also be curbed by mounted patrols.
Mr Baker said he saw the new section as a vital tool in crime fighting, public protection and reassurance.
“Mounted officers can be used for a whole range of policing services. They are a proven tool in tackling nuisance and disorder issues,” he said.
“They can be deployed in varying situations, as a crime fighting tool or to provide vital reassurance to the public.”
Essex Police Authority discussed the issue at a meeting yesterday, but no decision has yet been made.
A force spokesman said Essex Police had closed down its mounted section in 1999 due to cost-cutting exercise as a result of very challenging budget settlements from the Government.
At the time the then police authority chairman Anthony Peel said the decision had caused him “a lot of distress” but questioned whether the mounted unit was value for money.
The current chairman of the police authority, Robert Chambers, said: “We will of course look at the business case and I, with all the other members of the police authority, will join together to make our decision.
“I am very supportive of the new style of policing because the focus is on the public and we will always try to do what the public asks of us.
“Obviously it is difficult to comment until we have looked at it, but I would fully support anything that would improve policing for the benefit of the community.”
Essex Police scrapped its motorcycles at the same time as the mounted unit but these were bought back last year, also under the leadership of Mr Baker.