Essex Police is set to be the second force to disband its mounted unit in the past two months, under pressure to make cuts.

The force – which set up the mounted section just five years ago – must make £42.2million savings by 2014-15.

Nottinghamshire Police came to the same decision in June.

The nine Essex officers and two staff affected are being consulted at the moment and the Police Authority will make the final decision.

But it’s likely that the section, which has eight horses, will be wound up in September, saving in the region of £600,000 a year.

Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said: “In these times of unprecedented financial pressures, the force is faced with very hard choices and the decision to disband the mounted section is made with great reluctance.”

If made redundant, the horses would go to other forces or be rehomed.

A candidate for the post of commissioner of Essex Police, retired Chief Superintendent Mick Thwaites, has opposed the move, saying the mounted section was being used as “a political football”.

“The mounted officers are hard-working, dedicated cops,” he said.

There are now 15 police forces in the UK with a mounted unit.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (10 August 2012)