Future of mounted police unit in question pending review outcome

  • The future of a police force’s mounted unit re-established five years ago could depend on the outcome of a review into the section – as the “unique resource” needs to become “more cost-effective”.

    The office of the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Gloucestershire announced a review of Gloucestershire Constabulary’s mounted unit in July, following the appointment of the new PCC Chris Nelson. At the time the office said “despite considerable academic and anecdotal evidence” in support of Gloucestershire’s Constabulary’s move to revive its mounted section in 2016, “many were opposed”.

    An initial review took place that examined the rationale behind the section’s revival, the research that underpinned it, its operational capabilities – particularly in the context of cutting crime and reducing anti-social behaviour – and how much the section is costing taxpayers. The report described the unit as a “unique resource” that adds value to the force, but said that extra investment was needed to make the horses more cost-effective and to maximise their potential. Sponsorship and hiring out the horses to other forces through a mutual aid programme were among the suggestions made as a way to cover the unit’s running costs.

    “I know there are many who are of the opinion that the money devoted to the mounted section could be better spent elsewhere, but there are at least equal numbers in favour and I have to keep an open mind,” said Mr Nelson in July.

    “At first glance, there are pros and cons for both sides of the argument but I don’t believe in making decisions based on knee-jerk reactions. I much prefer to study the data and then reach an informed decision based on the facts.”

    At a police and crime panel meeting last month the future of the mounted unit was on the agenda, with the PCC telling the panel that the initial review found the current model was “not optimal” and further work has been requested. The PCC was of the view that the current service was more of a “neighbourhood police service” supporting reassurance and problem-solving activity when required, but the review of the unit was “not currently a priority”.

    A spokesman for the PCC’s office told H&H the review remains ongoing.

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