Police horses will remain on the beat in Gloucestershire after a successful year-long trial.

The force started the trial in 2016 following independent academic research by Oxford University and the RAND Institute in Gloucestershire that showed horses are a “useful tactic” for policing.

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s mounted section will continue to be based at Highnam Court with four horses — Teddy, Barton, Boris and General — three police officers, an equine manager and a groom.

Chief Constable Rod Hansen said trust was among the reasons for retaining the unit.

“In a county so well known for its equestrian interests, why wouldn’t we be proud to bring horses back into the mix?” he said.

“We have to gain and retain the public’s trust not only by providing a professional service at times of crisis but also by being approachable and accessible at all times so that people feel confident in helping us.

“Academic findings have shown that members of the public are six times more likely to engage with officers on horseback than officers on foot offering more opportunities for people to talk to us, and share what they know or suspect.

“That for me was one of the most compelling reasons to retain the section.”

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The decision was made by the force’s executive board this month and is supported by Gloucestershire’s police and crime commissioner, Martin Surl.

The force is trying to make the section as “cost neutral” as possible, through sponsorship and other work, such as helping other forces which need mounted support.

“The costs of maintaining a small mounted section are acceptable when offset against the proven benefits the extra capability brings, not least as part of an integral neighbourhood policing service,” added Mr Hansen.

“A key feature of neighbourhood policing is for us to get as close as possible to the communities we serve and we can only do that if we have their support.

“Even in austerity I want a balanced and optimised constabulary that puts the public first.”

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