Police horses are back on the streets of Hove in Sussex for the first time in 20 years. The two-week experiment is being organised by Chief Inspector Stuart Harrison from the Hove and Shoreham Division.

“The removal of police from the streets was part of the plan to introduce a helicopter – but you don’t get any social interaction with a helicopter,” he says.

“It was part of police thinking at the time – more effort being put into response policing than patrolling and prevention. But that thinking has moved on. There is a body of research, mainly from the USA, which shows the value of maintaining police presence.

“And there is nothing more visible than a policemen dressed in fluorescent yellow, on top of a 17.2hh horse weighing a ton and a half.”

At the moment there are three horse (all on loan from the Avon and Somerset Police), along with their rider officers.

Imperial is an eight-year-oldIrish Draught/Thoroughbred, Somerset, an eight-year-old bay gelding and Taunton Deane, an 18-year-old Hanoverian/Irish bay gelding. They are stabled at a livery yard just outside Hove.

The horses are not just going out on the beat – they will be sent to “hot spot” where the crime rate is high.

” Even after two days, there has been some effect. We had a police presence outside a pub where we almost always have trouble – and there was no problem. They definitely lower tension,” says Chief Inspector Harrison.

The other benefit of the horses is their appeal for the general public and their ability to make them feel safer.

“The response of the public so far has been awe-inspiring. There has been a gathering each morning as the officers mount up to go on patrol,” says Chief Inspector Harrison.

New stables would have to be built and horses found and trained if the experiment is judged a success. But Chief Inspector Harrison is hopeful that it could all be in place by 1 April next year.