Brentwood: Police consulting on disbanding mounted police unit
PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 July 2012
»The sight of police horses in Brentwood could soon be a thing of the past.
Essex Police informed the county’s police authority earlier this month of its plans to disband the Mounted Section.
The proposal is now subject to consultation with staff. The unit could start being disbanded in September.
The move comes as Essex Police faces financial pressures and cuts to its grant, meaning it has to make recurring revenue savings of £42.2million by 2014/15.
Axing the Mounted Section would save £600,000 a year. The unit was first cut in 1999 but brought back in 2008 with significant investment in new facilities at its Writtle base.
Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said: “In these times of unprecedented financial pressures, the force is faced with very hard choices, and the proposal to disband the Mounted Section is made with great reluctance.”
Mick Thwaites, a retired chief superintendent who is running as independent candidate for the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner post, called the section a “political football”.
He said: “It was only a few years ago that the mounted unit was brought back.
“About £250,000 was spent on bringing the stables at Writtle up to scratch and all the other expense for training officers, sourcing horses and so on will now have been completely wasted.”
Mr Thwaites believes any cut to the Mounted Section would be detrimental to policing in Essex.
He said: “The officers in the Mounted Section are modern, hardworking, dedicated cops who, like most of the officers and staff of Essex Police, want to do a good job.
He added: “Perhaps they don’t detect as much crime or nick as many villains as beat officers, but should we judge police work on this narrow band of government-driven meaningless stats?
“We should judge it on what makes the pubic feel safe.”
Essex Police is one of nine forces that continues to maintain a dedicated mounted section.