Horse riders wanted to help us to protect our heritage and our rural communities
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We’re looking for horse riders who are keen to protect our rural communities and our heritage and help us to keep them safe.
Essex also contains many historical and scheduled monuments and it’s important they are protected against damage and criminal activity.
If you want to be an extra pair of eyes and ears for us in the countryside, you can join the Essex Horse Rider Volunteer Scheme.
Riders have a unique vantage point and regularly use bridleways, footpaths and narrow country lanes that are not easily accessible by vehicles. So, they are well-placed to spot when something doesn’t seem right or if something has changed.
The scheme has been running successfully in Uttlesford for the past year and now we’re expanding it across our county.
We’re keen to hear information about any crimes or anti-social behaviour in our rural communities. It helps us to build a picture of criminal activity so we can best target our resources and find solutions.
Each new volunteer will receive a visit from a rural engagement officer who will explain what to look out for and how to report information to us. They will also be signed up to our Heritage Watch and Farm & Rural Watch schemes and receive weekly reports about relevant crimes in their area.
We’ll also be hosting regular online sessions, visiting stables and organising tackle-stamping sessions.
One of our newest members is Jenny Doyle. She escorts her 10-year-old son Ally on his rides in rural parts of the Colchester district.
“I like the idea of the scheme. It helps landowners, Essex Police and the local community and it helps horse riders as well. It enables us to look after the community we ride around. “It’s good practice for my son Ally, who’s 10, to get used to paying attention to his surroundings and it’s good practice for young people to learn to report something to the police if it’s not right. Any communication young people have with the police is a positive thing. “We’re very lucky we have permission from a lot of the local landowners to use their tracks and we use public bridleways as well. We’d really like to look after them. I think it’s a really good, community-building kind of scheme. It’s a really good link between the public, particularly equestrians, and the police. And I think anything we can do to help and be helped by the police is a good thing. The more eyes which are looking around us.”
Ally has ridden since he was four and enjoys both competing and hacking. He says:
“I want to help because I don’t like the fact that people do nasty things such as fly-tipping and stealing things. I want to help prevent that.”
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan is the national police lead for Heritage Crime. She says the scheme will help to protect the countryside.
“We are proud to work with communities across Essex to keep people safe so, when we launched the trial of our Horse Rider Volunteer Scheme last autumn, I was excited to see how this opportunity developed. “I’m so pleased that we now have volunteers across the county, well-placed to identify and suspicious behaviour in places that other watch schemes don’t get to see. Our horse rider volunteers look out for and report suspicious activity in rural areas to help us fight rural and heritage crime.”
Head of Heritage Crime Strategy for Historic England Mark Harrison is a keen supporter of our scheme and hopes volunteer horse riders will help to keep a watchful eye on historical sites across Essex.
“People have lived in Essex for thousands of years and, during this time, our ancestors have left us with an amazing legacy that we can see in the form of historic buildings, archaeological sites and features in the landscape. “Unfortunately, a small criminal minority are responsible for causing damage or loss to this precious and sensitive resource. In many cases the loss or damage is severe and often irreversible. “The Essex Horse Rider Volunteer Scheme provides an exciting development to Essex Heritage Watch.”
And Dr Will Fletcher, Team Leader, Historic England East Of England, adds:
“Historic England are pleased to support the Essex Horse Rider Volunteer Scheme. “The scheme will help to raise the level of awareness and understanding of the threat of crime and anti-social behaviour to historic sites and buildings across the county.”
About the Essex Horse Rider Volunteer Scheme
Horse riders interested in taking part in the scheme must hold public liability insurance for the horse you ride and the animal must be well cared for.
Volunteers will be provided with information as to what to look out for and how best to report any criminal activity.