Leicestershire police force has a new team of volunteers on horseback who have been recruited to spot and report crime in the countryside.
The team, made up of 20 horse riders, have volunteered to become the ‘eyes and the ears' of the force while out riding in the countryside to protect rural communities from crime and anti-social behaviour.
The volunteers will report to the force's rural sergeant, Paul Archer, and will support neighbourhood policing teams and the Rural Policing Team by providing information on issues impacting rural communities. It is an innovative way to mobilise rural communities across Leicestershire and Rutland in the fight against crime.
They will also be asked to assist in rural crime prevention initiatives and local operations, to develop contacts with farms and local businesses, provide advice to the public and increase feelings of safety by providing reassurance and visible patrols.
Mounted Volunteers Co-ordinator, PC Kelly Tones, said: "The volunteers are a real asset to the rural team and the scheme will be an excellent way to further engage with our rural communities in the harder to reach areas.
"They are also a crucial part of Operation Snaffle, which is the force's response to improving the safety of horses and riders on our road network.
"We have recruited a really good team spread across the entire county and I am really looking forward to working alongside them, listening to their ideas and developing the scheme further."
The volunteers, who will work flexibly depending on availability, have already taken part in an induction session to help understand their new role and additional training relevant to the role within the force.
The Police and Crime Commission has been very supportive of the new scheme. Rupert Matthews said; "Tackling rural crime is one of my key priorities. I am delighted to launch the Volunteers on Horseback Scheme - a resource I have fought hard to develop since my election.
"Our Volunteers on Horseback will provide a special service to our rural communities, using their unique vantage point on horseback to retrieve valuable information and intelligence that will help local officers solve crime and keep residents safe.
"They will not only provide much-needed reassurance to their communities but will provide a valuable service by building connections with landowners, businesses, residents and farmers and providing an additional bridge between rural officers and the local people they serve.
"I would like to thank every volunteer who has stepped into this new and exciting role. Your support is gratefully received."