Coventry & Warwickshire

'Neighbourhood watch on horseback' for Warwickshire

Rider and horse in high visibility clothing Image copyright High Visibility
Image caption The similarity between volunteer jackets and police officer uniforms was criticised in a previous scheme

Horse riders can become mounted police volunteers in a neighbourhood watch-style scheme for Warwickshire backed by the police and crime commissioner.

About £2,500 from the community safety budget will fund police volunteer training for about 15 horse owners.

They will be given special jackets and crime prevention advice leaflets, but told to call the police if they see anything suspicious.

PCC Ron Ball said they would not take risks or go "galloping after people".

Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said the volunteers would be used in rural areas where "crime figures are low" so police officers could be placed "where they are most needed".

Mounted volunteer package

  • High visibility jackets
  • Training at Warwickshire College
  • Horse condition check
  • Insurance
  • Costs about £166 per volunteer

A similar scheme, but with rural special constables rather than volunteers on horseback, has been running in Hertfordshire since 2009.

And in the last two years Norfolk and Hampshire adapted the idea, asking horse owners to volunteer.

Uniforms for volunteers were later withdrawn in Hampshire after the police federation chairman there, John Apter, claimed they made volunteers vulnerable, adding the move "conned the public" when police officer numbers were being cut.

Mr Ball said: "The public must not confuse them with police on horseback [in Warwickshire]. I don't envisage them getting into confrontational situations.

"We're not looking for people to go crime fighting and galloping after people."

Training is expected to start in the new year, with volunteers in place by March.

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