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Special officers begin Norfolk Police horseback patrols

image captionThree special officers and a PCSO will be patrolling the Norfolk countryside as part of Operation Randall

Special officers on horseback will patrol the Norfolk countryside from Sunday in a move to combat rural crime.

The three special officers and one police community support officer will ride beats in south and north Norfolk using their own horses.

The officers were assessed for mounted duty in February by World Horse Welfare field officer Jacko Jackson.

He said: "We hope the officers will be a real asset. Reintroducing officers on horseback is a positive move."

The move comes as part of the force's Operation Randall , a project to deter criminals targeting the countryside.

The cost of funding the horses' equipment and uniform, around £600 per mount, has come from sponsorship. The force said officers patrolling on horseback would give rural communities better access to police support.

image captionSpecial officers Richard Tallent, Becky Taylor, Nicola Rix and Edward Arbuthnot get ready for patrol

Temporary Ch Supt Nick Dean, who leads the operation, said: "The scheme will make a real difference as the mounted specials will offer a visible yet reassuring presence in the local communities where they will be patrolling."

The initiative in Norfolk follows the success of patrols by rural specials on horseback in Hertfordshire, which began in 2009.

The four officers, Richard Tallent, Becky Taylor, Nicola Rix and Edward Arbuthnot, will be the police's "eyes and ears" in the countryside.

Special constable Nichola Rix said: "This role is non-confrontational. It's to make sure nothing is being stolen or anything that looks suspicious is reported."

The mounted officers will not be used to police riots, control public order or for large-scale demonstrations.

Mounted patrol officers were last used in Norfolk in the mid-1900s. If the scheme is successful, Norfolk Police hope to extend the initiative to other parts of the county.

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