Riders are being asked to volunteer to help fight rural crime, as part of a scheme being launched this month.
The Sussex Equine Rangers partnership seeks to promote collaboration between Sussex Police and local riders to tackle crime in the countryside and anti-social behaviour.
Led by the Mid Sussex neighbourhood police team, there will be a pilot scheme of 18 volunteers, aged from 18, from the riding community who while out riding on their horses in remote areas, will be the eyes and ears and report back anything suspicious to the team.
The scheme will work alongside Farm Watch, to provide the volunteers with information around suspicious persons, vehicles and activities and what to look out for and to report back.
This enables the police and other agencies to target their patrols and enforcement in the right places where communities are at risk of becoming victims of crime or anti-social behaviour. The agencies can then work together to attend to vulnerable persons and premises and provide crime prevention advice.
PS Isobel Lee said: “By the nature of moving at low speed and being about 10ft high, they will be able to see over hedges, down footpaths, into wooded areas, into farmyards and commercial premises, as well as gardens and garages.
“As volunteers, the riders will have no more power of arrest then any other member of the public. They will not be expected to approach suspects or intervene with any crimes in action, their role is to observe and report back to us using their mobile phones.”
The pilot scheme will initially cover Bolney, Warninglid, Twineham, Hickstead, Albourne, Pyecombe, Poynings, Fulking, Hurspierpoint, Sayers Common and Hassocks.
The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has awarded a £3,247 grant towards the scheme.
She said: “When I first took office I made a pledge that rural crime would be treated as seriously as the crime that takes place in our towns and cities, which is why I am delighted to provide funding to support this innovative volunteer initiative.
“The Sussex Rangers is a shining example of how members of the public can support their neighbourhood police teams to help keep Sussex safer. I know that residents who live in some of the more remote areas of the county can often feel ‘cut-off’ and this project will enhance Sussex Police’s crime-fighting capabilities in those places that can be difficult to police by conventional means.
“As well as providing a visible presence and assisting with crime prevention the Rangers will also gather local information to increase the force’s rural intelligence picture.”
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