Essex police horses join the battle against rural burglars

OFFICERS and horses from the Essex Police Mounted Unit have joined the battle against rural burglars in the Braintree district.

Horses and officers patrolled the streets of Black Notley, White Notley, Cressing and Tye Green from April 12 to April 14. There have been five house burglaries in this part of Braintree since March 1, 2011, and the district commander welcomed the four-legged help.

Chief Insp Nick Lee said: “This is part of a high visibility operation to deter and disrupt burglars, and prevent the misery and distress that they cause. Officers on horses have an excellent vantage position enabling them to see over hedges and across fields in the rural parts of Cressing, Tye Green and the Notleys, and can also patrol larger areas than neighbourhood policing officers on foot.”

Mounted Unit Inspector Louise Beattie was only too happy to help: “We’re a specialist unit, comprising eight horses, eight constables, a sergeant and myself, and we patrol at all hours of day and night, both in urban areas, and more rural locations such as Cressing and the Notleys.

“In a rural location, our unique advantage is our height, with the horses all standing at least 16 hands high, meaning that the rider can see over fences and hedgerows, and look for any suspicious activity.”

Insp Beattie and Bella, together with Pc Frank Pallett and Rosie, covered around 15 miles on their patrol on April 14, and are able to get around a rural area more rapidly than officers on foot.

Insp Beattie adds that the horses served as a great icebreaker with members of the community: “Pc Pallett and Rosie patrolled the Cressing area for three days and, by the time I arrived on the third day, it seemed he already knew a bit of history about everyone who lived there. This can be a really useful source of information and intelligence for police.”

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Both Bella and Rosie, together with their stable-mate Biscuit, are now back on duty after recently being attacked by uncontrolled dogs in town centres, and Insp Beattie is delighted to be able to put them through their paces again. One day, the horses can be patrolling a football match at Southend or Colchester United, and the next day they may be part of an operation to deter hare coursing.

Insp Beattie said: “The Mounted Unit clocked up 1500 hours of patrols in the first three months of this year, and the horses work around the clock just like police officers: early turns, late turns and night shifts”

The police horses and their riders form a specialist but integral part of the Essex Police’s battle against burglary.