Police boss to explain why he brought back horses

September 24, 2008

A senior British policeman is to talk at a conference about why the Essex police brought back mounted patrols.

Acting Superintendent Jon Dodman will tell a conflict management conference about the experiences of bringing the horses back to Essex. The region's original mounted unit was disbanded in 1999.

The conference has been organised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Fourteen forces in England and Wales have mounted sections with Essex and North Wales creating theirs within the past 12 months.

Dodman, who heads the mobile support division special operations, said: "Usually we get to hear what horses can do, such as policing football matches and general public order incidents, but this year the organisers wanted me to share the reasons why we brought the horses back to Essex as they might be considering doing just that themselves.

"I will speak about how we did it, what went well and what we would do differently."

He said that since mounted patrols were reinstated in December 2007, he had heard nothing but positive feedback from territorial policing divisions.

"The horses provide public reassurance as they are very approachable and people tend to remember seeing a police horse and rider," he said.

"They are good for crime prevention and their riders have made arrests not least because sometimes they have a better view from the saddle than colleagues on the ground would have."

The Essex Police mounted unit is based at Writtle. It currently consists of six horses, nine police officers, a stable manager and a groom. One officer is on an exchange with the Metropolitan Police mounted unit and two Metropolitan officers are working at Writtle under the programme.

Three horses have just qualified in public order policing several months ahead of schedule and can now be used to police football matches.

Previously, the force has had to "buy-in" mounted policing from the City of London Police for certain matches but will soon be in a position where it can hire out its horses under mutual-aid arrangements with other forces.

When the mounted unit is up to full strength eight horses its officers will be able to develop specialist knowledge and investigate equine crime, such as the theft of horseboxes, tack and other equipment.

The ACPO Mounted Working group works towards standardising the policies and procedures surrounding mounted policing in England and Wales. Once, every force had its own mounted branch but numbers dwindled in the 1990s as other public order policing methods developed.

The 2008 ACPO Conflict Management Conference will be held on October 7 and 8 at Chesford Bridge near Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

Its aim is to equip police officers with the latest knowledge and understanding of the key issues in the field of conflict management and to aid the sharing of best practice.