A POLICE force has today announced that it is to axe its mounted section in a bid to save cash.
Cleveland Police will disband the horse section by the end of the financial year making an annual saving of £88,000.
But if police chiefs feel they need horses and mounted officers at large events, it will consider paying another force to provide the service.
The section consists of five horses, two members of police staff, one sergeant and six police constables based at Ormesby Hall, in Middlesbrough, and costs £521,000 per year to maintain.
The mounted police officers will be given alternative posts while two police staff will be made redundant. The horses will be re-homed and their equipment, such as tack and the force horsebox, will be sold.
Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Jacqui Cheer said she was “saddened” to have to make the decision.
She said: “The decision to disband the Mounted Section has been one of the hardest decisions I have had to make since arriving here.
“I want to make it clear that this is in no way a reflection on the section itself.
“The police staff, police officers and horses have served the Cleveland Force with the utmost professionalism and commitment, and I am saddened to have to make this decision.”
She added: “All aspects of the organisation are under scrutiny, and we need to ensure that every service we provide is as efficient as possible and meets our policing priorities.
“Everyone will also be aware of the financial cuts that we have to make and the police officers we have had to lose to make those savings.
“The move will make an annual saving of approximately £88,000. The police officers will be moved to other frontline duties, two police staff posts will be lost and the equipment such as the horsebox will be sold.
“Where it is deemed an operational necessity to have horses in the future, we will look to other forces to supply this service at a small cost or consider other policing tactics to maintain the safety of the public at large events.
“I fully understand that the loss of the Mounted Section will impact on members of the public as well as members of Cleveland Police, as it has been an integral part of the policing service for many years.
“This is an issue which has been considered for many months and in line with the national decision making framework.
“However, unfortunately we are in a situation where difficult decisions have to be taken based on both cost effectiveness and operational efficiency.
“Clearly it is a priority for us to ensure that the horses find safe and caring homes. Work will start on this straight away and the Section will be disbanded by the end of the current financial year.
“The decision has now been passed to the Police and Crime Commissioner to scrutinise. Once this is complete, the full paper will be published so that people can see the considerations during the process.”