A pioneering new initiative, which uses volunteers on horseback to help combat rural crime in Warwickshire, was officially launched at Moreton Morrell College on 14 August 2015
The Mounted Police Support Volunteer Scheme is a partnership between Warwickshire Police, Moreton Morrell College (part of the Warwickshire College Group), The British Horse Society and Horse Watch and has been funded by Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball.
The mounted volunteers will engage with their local rural communities while out on their regular hacks along bridleways, lanes and country roads, looking out for anything suspicious or requiring police action. They do not have any greater powers of arrest than any other citizen and will not take on the same responsibilities as special constables or regular mounted police, nor will they be used as a deployable resource by the police.
Instead they will be the “eyes and ears” for rural communities – similar to Neighbourhood Watch in urban areas – and will work closely with police Safer Neighbourhood Teams, providing intelligence and information to help support crime prevention.
All volunteers are issued with a high visibility jacket featuring the Mounted Police Support Volunteer Scheme emblem, while their horses are equipped with reflective sheets and leg wrappings. Each applicant has been vetted by the police and was required to attend road safety training sessions run by The British Horse Society at Moreton Morrell College and to pass an examination which assessed their riding skills.
At the launch ceremony on 14 August, the first six volunteers to successfully complete their training were officially welcomed into the scheme alongside a further five who are in the final stages of their training. The event at Moreton Morrell College’s Equine Centre, was attended by dignitaries including Chief Constable Martin Jelley.
Welcoming the commencement of the scheme, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball said: “With their elevated positions on horseback, the Mounted Police Support Volunteers have a unique vantage point and can spot many things that someone on foot or in a vehicle might not otherwise be able to see or even be able to get near to. This is all valuable information, which might not otherwise come to police attention.
“By acting as the eyes and ears of the police, they can make a real difference in driving out crime from our rural areas. They will also provide a visual deterrent to crime – criminals tend to avoid communities where they know people are looking out for each other – and help provide a positive link between the police and rural communities, particularly in the more isolated areas.”
Sheila Hardy, BHS Senior Executive (Safety), said: “The British Horse Society is very happy to support this new initiative which allows horse riders to make a valuable contribution to countryside safety and security. It is particularly encouraging that all the riders taking part in this project have committed themselves to take their BHS Riding & Road Safety Test – the only test available that teaches riders how to keep themselves, their horses and other road users as safe as possible when they are out on the road and in the countryside.”
The Mounted Police Support Volunteer Scheme will run for an initial 12 months before it is reviewed by the PCC and a decision made as to how it should continue. If it proves successful further opportunities to volunteer may be made available.
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