Welcome gift for Ribble Valley's horseback heroes

Robert Parker with some of the Ribble Valley Rural Mounted Police team.
Robert Parker with some of the Ribble Valley Rural Mounted Police team.

An initiative that sees volunteers on horseback helping with the crackdown on rural crime has received a welcome donation from a Ribble Valley auction mart.

Robert Parker, the managing director of Clitheroe Auction Mart, has donated £350 to the Ribble Valley’s rural mounted police to fund hi viz tabards for summer riding.

The initiative works closely with Clitheroe Auction Mart helping volunteers and the police deal with rural and wildlife crime while at the same time forging good links with the farming community.

The rural mounted police volunteers, of which there are currently 13 patrolling the local countryside on a regular basis, act as the “eyes and ears” of the police – particularly in harder to access areas.

Experienced riders, the volunteers have been trained over five weeks by British Horse Society in riding and road craft. They have also had training in observation and the recording of information plus wildlife and rural crime.

Clitheroe PCSO Di Bioletti explained: “Ribble Valley is a largely rural area. Neighbourhood Policing teams cover large geographical areas. This provides a challenge in terms of finding innovative ways to engage with and be visible to rural communities.”

She added that the aim of the initiative is for the local community to support the Constabulary in rural crime prevention and detection. It also aims to improve confidence amongst the rural community and those who enjoy the local countryside by providing a visible and approachable presence as well as a link between the police and the rural community.

The volunteers’ elevated position, mean they are invaluable when it comes to observing things that cannot be seen on foot or from a vehicle. They can also look over hedges and walls, into fields and farm buildings, gardens and residential properties. Due to their local knowledge, horse riders can also provide the police with information about farm thefts, poaching, badger baiting/dog fighting, fly-tipping, drug use, anti-social behaviour, rustling, stone and metal thefts and also on people and vehicles associated with rural crime. They can also flag up to the police any vulnerable properties where the owners have left items of value on display or insecure.

PCSO Bioletti added: “The mounted volunteers are just one of the ways in which we can make the public more aware of what to watch out for in the countryside, and how to report suspicious activity or vehicles.

“Visibility is important as we want the public to recognise the mounted volunteers when they are out riding. They provide reassurance and a point of contact for rural residents to discuss their concerns.

“If anyone does see anything suspicious – for example movement of stock at unusual times of the day or night, people behaving suspiciously around farm buildings, animals or equipment, tools being sold out of the back of vans or pickups in rural locations – please contact the police immediately on 101.”

Ribble Valley Neighbourhood Policing teams liaise with the volunteers over local priorities and issues.

The initiative is backed by the Ribble Valley Community Safety Partnership and Lancashire Partnership Against Crime which have provided considerable funding to train and equip the volunteers. The British Horse Society have also provided training.

As well as hi viz jackets and tabards identifying the riders as Lancashire Police mounted volunteers, the horses have also been provided with hi viz exercise sheets, leg bands and breastplates.