• A long-awaited independent report into the future of Gloucestershire Constabulary’s mounted section has been submitted to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
  • Carried out by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), it describes the unit as a unique resource which adds value to the Constabulary
  • However, as well as highlighting its positive role in improving neighbourhood policing, the review also concludes that extra investment is needed to make the horses more cost effective and maximise their potential
  • It suggests sponsorship and hiring out to other forces through the mutual aid programme as two ways of offsetting running costs
  • PCC Chris Nelson says he will study the report and make a decision based on whether the unit will help him deliver on his election promises to cut crime and reduce anti-social behaviour

It was, perhaps, one of former Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl’s most controversial decisions.

Despite considerable academic and anecdotal evidence in support of Gloucestershire Constabulary’s move to revive its mounted section, many were opposed.

Now, its future could depend on a 36-page in-depth review, carried-out by the OPCC  Research Team. It forms part of a wider assessment of the Constabulary’s finances ordered by newly elected PCC Chris Nelson with a view to re-allocating funds to help him deliver his election promises.

Included in the wide-ranging study are an examination of the rationale behind the section’s revival; the research which underpinned it; its operational capabilities – particularly in the context of cutting crime and reducing anti-social behaviour – as well as how much the section is costing council tax payers.

Sponsorship and hiring out the horses to other forces through the mutual aid programme, are among the suggestions made in the report as means of covering the unit’s running costs.

Mr. Nelson said: “I know there are many who are of the opinion that the money devoted to the mounted section could be better-spent elsewhere, but there are at least equal numbers in favour and I have to keep an open mind.

“At first glance, there are pros and cons for both sides of the argument but I don’t believe in making decisions based on knee-jerk reactions. I much prefer to study the data and then reach an informed decision based on the facts.

“There is compelling evidence that horses have a positive role to play in improving neighbourhood policing, which is key to my policy of zero tolerance towards anti-social behaviour. I will be discussing all elements of the report with the Chief Constable to ensure that whatever decision we reach, will help me deliver on the promises I have made in my manifesto”.