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Gloucestershire Business News

Mounted police are doing a good job says Police and Crime Commissioner

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner has defended the use of police horses and says they are performing an important role.

He was responding to a comment by Punchline last week which questioned whether the mounted section provided value for money.

But Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, says the police horses are already proving their worth in many areas.

Today we publish Mr Surl's response in full.

Dear Punchline,

You need to take off the blinkers. The mounted section is already showing its worth and I believe that, long-term, it will prove to be an astute acquisition for the Constabulary.

Much of your criticism is around the popular misconception that police horses are only used at football matches and in public order disturbances. This is not the case.

The unit was put through a rigorous trial and answered all the questions asked of it. During that period, and since, our horses have been used successfully on a range of tasks.

Mounted officers have been used for night-time economy in Gloucester where they successfully disrupted disturbances; In Stroud, they assisted in the search for missing people where they covered ground officers on foot were unable to get to and responded and arrested individuals before the arrival of patrol officers; and they have worked neighbourhood teams to disrupt anti-social behaviour and drug dealing in both the Forest and Gloucester.

The notion they have replaced 'Bobbies on the beat' is misleading and based on nostalgia.

There is a great deal of academic research suggesting horses are a big attraction for the public; that people are much more likely to go up and talk to an officer on horseback than one of foot and that has been borne out.

We have seen it for ourselves in the night time economy where mounted officers have been particularly successful in increasing public confidence.The reality is that horses enable the police to get closer to people in the street.

That will be a key element in improving neighbourhood policing where the need and opportunities for information-sharing should be obvious.

One of your other lines of argument is around cost and again, you are misinformed. The Chief Constable assures me he is confident he can generate sufficient income through mutual aid and other avenues to make the section cost effective.

Already, forces in South Wales and Thames Valley - which recently rejected the idea of scrapping its own mounted section - have indicated they are keen to work with us whenever the need arises.

I accept that horses would not be much use in a motorway chase. But, as I have explained, they can get to places which vehicles cannot and they do have a role to play in a rural county which sometimes requires a more innovative approach.


Martin Surl

Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire.

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