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Horse owners saddle up to fight crime
HORSE owners are saddling up and patrolling the countryside in a bid to help Hampshire Police cut crime in the New Forest.
A group of public-minded volunteers have been given high-visibility jackets with police markings and matching leg straps and coats for their steeds.
And now the 12-strong Rural Mounted Patrol will help monitor lanes, bridleways and country roads as they sniff out suspicious activity.
Rural crime ranges from property theft to fly-tipping, metal thefts, deer poaching and sheep rustling.
Hampshire Horsewatch is a communityled project aimed at preventing thieves targeting equine equipment, and members already work closely with police.
Co-ordinator David Collings said: “Members of Hampshire Horsewatch becoming police volunteers enhances that partnership.
“With the reduction of funding being experienced within the police service there is a need to be as dynamic and imaginative as we can to cover rural policing in Hampshire.”
Volunteer Wendy Thairs, who is looking forward to taking her two horses on patrol in the New Forest, said: “The thin blue line has been stretched as far as it can go, so the rural community has to stand up and be counted.
“Both my horses, Groombridge and Kentucky, are recently retired from the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch and are still eager to go out on patrol.
“Groombridge is so big I can see over most people’s hedges, and obviously we don’t need four wheel drive to go off road.”
As volunteers, the riders will patrol an area they are familiar with, providing high visibility reassurance and engaging with communities. They will observe, liaise and report anything they see that warrants police attention.
There is a regulatory process to be completed before a rider can become a police volunteer and a member of the patrol.
A candidate must undergo an application procedure and security check.
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