THE sight of police horses regularly trotting the streets of Hartlepool is said to be in jeopardy.
The Mail understands two officers out of the nine-strong team of Cleveland Police’s mounted section are being forced to retire in the coming weeks as part of £12m cutbacks.
Police chiefs are being made to restructure the force after its budget was reduced by 20 per cent due to Government spending cuts.
Cleveland’s top officer, Chief Constable Sean Price, did not confirm or deny whether the future of the horse section in Hartlepool is in doubt, but admitted every part of the force is being looked at.
But Steve Matthews, chairman of the Cleveland Police Federation, which represents officers, said he was “very concerned” about the future of the mounted section.
He said: “It is not good news for Hartlepool that these officers are to go. I understand one of the officers is a trainer, so that brings into question what future the section has.
“It would be bad news for all of Cleveland and not just Hartlepool if there were no horses, you cannot measure or put a price on the work they do.”
The loss of two officers in the section is part of an effort to reduce Cleveland Police by 230 officers from 1,727 to 1,572 over the next 12 months before 75 are lost the following year.
Mr Price said: “Every single unit in the force is currently subject of review and once this has been completed, we will announce the details, which will be later in the year.”
Hartlepool currently has the horses Alf and Reg who are regularly seen patrolling the town with PC John Barron and PC John Carter, as reported in a Mail feature about the mounted section in December last year.
PC Barron hit the headlines by riding to the rescue of 72-year-old Joan Guthrie after she fell into a diabetic coma on a bus.
He had been flagged down by the driver of the bus, near Hartlepool town centre, and leapt on board the single decker to tend to the stricken 72-year-old grandmother.