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Poll: Will mounted police help reduce crime and reassure communitites in rural parts of Suffolk?

PUBLISHED: 10:14 18 August 2014

The Mounted Police Unit in Essex - which has now been abolished

The Mounted Police Unit in Essex - which has now been abolished

Archant

Rural communities in the west of Suffolk will see the first wave of special constables mounted on horseback patrolling the countryside to combat crime, the EADT can reveal.

Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore, who is spearheading the plan, said criminals will be caught out by the “surprise factor” of volunteers riding the beat in rural areas of the county.

He said the horseback specials will provide reassurances to rural communities, help prevent crime by using their local knowledge to access areas deemed inaccessible to police patrol cars and improve the force’s intelligence picture.

Mr Passmore said he had gained the full backing of Suffolk Constabulary’s new Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Wilson, explaining it will be funded by “existing resources”.

He hopes to have up to 20 volunteers signed up within the next two or three years.

He said: “We are looking to expand and diversify the capabilities we have got across the constabulary and one of the areas we are looking at in particular is volunteers and special constables mounted on horseback.

“There will be great advantages for rural areas: horses are of course quieter so you can catch criminals unaware; you have got excellent visibility when on top of a horse; and from an access point of view in dealing with rural crime they can go to areas where vehicles and people find it more difficult to go.

“It is another tool in dealing with criminals and sends out a very clear message: we will be after you.”

Special constables are volunteer police officers who have the same powers as regular police officers. They can make arrests, wear the same uniform and are issued with the same equipment.

They are fully trained and are given the opportunity to get involved in a range of day-to-day policing activities.

The horseback volunteers, using their own horses, could be assigned duties such as patrolling country lanes, detaining speeding drivers, dealing with fly tipping, tackling poaching and helping injured livestock and wildlife.

Mr Passmore said the scheme is likely to be rolled out initially in the west of Suffolk, with a view to expanding it countywide.

He said: “Another excellent feature about Suffolk is that we find different ways to help each other. Our community cohesion is second to none and we are very keen to make use of that.”

But he added: “I don’t want this to be seen as a substitute for proper policing. It is an additional resource to help the constabulary. I want to combat rural crime and this is yet another dimension to help with that.”

The scheme was first introduced by Hertfordshire Police in 2009.

The disclosure comes as Suffolk Constabulary faces slashing £16.4million from its budget by 2018, having already saved millions of pounds.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Discussions are ongoing between chief officers, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Special Constabulary to look into the feasibility to design a mounted resource based in the county around volunteers with the use of their own horses.”

A recruitment process is under way and people interested in signing up are urged to contact Mr Passmore through his website www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk.

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