Cash-strapped police rein in horses

HUMBERSIDE Police’s mounted horse section is to be disbanded next year after becoming a victim of cost-cutting, it has been announced.

Chief Constable Tim Hollis said the decision “reflects directly upon the increasing financial pressures on local police in light of the Government’s 20 per cent budget cuts”.

Mr Hollis, who is stepping down in March, said they could buy in mounted officers from forces, including West and South Yorkshire, on the “few” occasions they were seen as an operational necessity. Last year there were 27 occasions on which they would have had to bring in horses, predominantly crowd control at football matches but also at the Hull Fair.

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Only a quarter of police forces in England and Wales have a mounted section and Humberside’s was one of the smallest remaining, he said.

He said: “I realise, of course, that the public and many officers and police staff, serving and retired, will regret the loss of a Mounted Section which has been an integral part of policing across Humberside for so many years. Personally, I share that sadness but we are in a period when sentiment has come up against austerity and hard decisions must be made.”

The move will save around £500,000 a year and proceeds from the eventual sale of the stables at Walkington will be spent on tackling the priorities of police and crime commissioner Matthew Grove. The police officers will be redeployed, one horse is retiring and five others may be sold to other forces.

John Blanchard, chairman of the federation representing rank and file officers, said: “We share the chief’s view that it is deeply disappointing that they are going to have to go. The fact is the Government said that cuts could be done without affecting the frontline. This is prima facie evidence that they can’t be. Horses provide a valuable function in relation to public order, football matches, searches for vulnerable people and high-profile patrols and all that will now go by the wayside.”