Police horse unit's future up in air
THE future of a police force horse unit based on the edge of the Forest of Dean is under review.
Gloucestershire Constabulary could either expand or disband its mounted section at Highnam Court, says force police and crime commissioner Chris Nelson.
Two of the unit’s horses are due to be deployed at the upcoming climate conference in Glasgow, but the force rarely sees them needed for public order policing.
The PCC said the issue was "a bit of a minefield" and has set up a team to examine the employment of the constabulary’s mounted detachment after an initial review suggested it was not fit for purpose.
He told Tuesday’s (September 28) police and crime panel that they are seeking sponsorship for the horses from "influential people" in the county.
Another way of funding the unit could be to make them available to other police forces in the South West.
"It isn’t really achieving what was talked about in the business case, it’s too small," he said.
"If we expanded the size of the unit, would that make it more viable in providing more mutual aid for other forces in terms of public order offences?
"And can we raise sponsorship support which was talked about in the original business case?"
Mr Nelson said he was now more aware of the value of police horses in Gloucestershire, which was in neighbourhood and community policing.
"Two of our horses are going to be used in the climate conference in Glasgow in the coming months. That’s an example of where we can provide support," he said.
"One of the reasons I’m interested in mutual aid is it does provide a good rate of return to the constabulary and would really help make the horse unit affordable
"As in all things, I’m evidence driven and evidence led rather than looking at these issues emotionally.
"But I’m not there really in terms of what a final decision could be.
"The jury is still out. I’m not sure what the future will be of that unit.
"It’s a question of do we expand? Is it a good idea?
"If the answer is we don’t expand, I think the inevitable result will be that will be the end of the horses unit.
"But that’s not something I can dictate. It’s the chief who decides the operational make up of his force.
"There are definitely sensitivities around this issue wherever I look. It’s a bit of a minefield."
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