• An independent report has described Gloucestershire Constabulary’s mounted section as a unique resource which adds value to local policing
  • PCC Chris Nelson has challenged the Constabulary to maximise the unit’s potential in neighbourhood policing by ‘providing greater visibility’
  • Mr. Nelson said “There has always been 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. However, they should be having greater impact on neighbourhood policing and the night time economy”
  • The Constabulary now has six horses, which are used regularly for patrolling the streets of Gloucester and Cheltenham on Friday and Saturday evenings. They have also been involved recently in a number of high profile operations and investigations
  • Although the review suggested opportunities for further investment, the PCC has told the Chief Constable he is unwilling to commit to any further expansion of the section at present.

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Mounted Unit is a unique resource that adds value to the service. But there are no plans to expand it, despite the findings of a review carried out by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Instead, PCC Chris Nelson has challenged the Constabulary to maximise the use of its horses in areas where they are proven, including neighbourhood policing and providing greater visibility.

Despite considerable academic and anecdotal evidence in support, the unit has continued to divide opinion since its reformation in 2017. A review, requested by the PCC following his election, resulted in a 36-page report into its merits and how it operates.

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 I have kept an open mind while analysing the information put before me.

Compelling evidence

“From the extensive review carried out by the OPCC, conversations with Chief Constable Rod Hansen who is the national lead on police horses and taking evidence not just from our own force, but from others around the country, it is clear that the Mounted Section is an asset that provides an opportunity for enhanced visibility, engagement and reassurance in communities.

“There has always been 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. However, they should be having a greater impact on neighbourhood policing and the night time economy as well as in the more well-known public order role at sports events and demonstrations.

“The section is used proactively in problem-solving activities in communities suffering increased crime, anti-social behaviour or community tension. I want to see more tangible intelligence emanating from these patrols.

“I also feel it has taken an unacceptably long period of time for the unit to get up to full operational strength and capability, which in my view has harmed its reputation”.

The Constabulary now has six horses, which are used regularly for patrolling the streets of Gloucester and Cheltenham on Friday and Saturday evenings. They have also been involved in a number of high profile operations and investigations including the county’s mutual aid contribution at COP 26 and, locally, providing reassurance after the stabbings in Walton Cardiff and other community concerns in Frampton on Severn.

Although the review suggested opportunities for further investment, the PCC has told the Chief Constable he is unwilling to commit to any expansion of the section at present.