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Horse riders volunteer to help police crackdown on crime in the countryside
7:42am Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in News
VOLUNTEERS will be riding on horseback to keep rural communities safe across Hampshire.
Hampshire police have teamed up with a horse volunteer scheme to ensure that lanes, bridleways and roads in the countryside are patrolled to stop crime in its tracks.
Twelve riders from the Hampshire Horsewatch scheme have been appointed to patrol these areas in branded high-visibility jackets, while their horses will be kitted out in protective clothing.
Rural crime includes a range of issues such as theft, fly-tipping, deer poaching and occasional sheep rustling.
The partnership with Hampshire Constabulary has been formed through its equine liaison officer scheme.
The volunteers do not have the power to arrest criminals but will report back to the police control room.
They are expected to carry out about eight hours of work per month, keep their tack in good order and make sure that the horse is “clean and tidy”.
David Collings, Hampshire Horsewatch co-ordinator and force equine liaison officer at Hampshire Constabulary, said: “Members of Hampshire Horsewatch becoming police volunteers enhance that partnership.
“With the reduction of funding being experienced within the police service there is a need to be as dynamic and imaginative as we can to cover rural policing in Hampshire.”
Among those taking part in the scheme is Wendy Thairs, who will patrol the New Forest.
She said: “The thin blue line has been stretched as far as it can go, so the rural community has to stand up and be counted.
“Having suffered from rural crime, when luckily our equipment was found and returned undamaged, it’s now payback time.
“Both my horses, Groombridge and Kentucky, are recently retired from the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch and are still eager to go out on patrol.
“Groombridge is so big I can see over most people’s hedges and obviously we don’t need four wheel drive to go off-road.”
The initiative is supported by the force’s Country Watch officers.
Chief Insp Simon Dodds, the force’s lead on rural policing, said: “Having police volunteers on horseback is an exciting development in how rural areas of the force are patrolled.”
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