Today's Mounted Section officer operates at the front line of high profile police work and Neighbourhood Policing.
West Yorkshire Police’s Mounted Section carries out daily operational patrols in crime areas, carrying out proactive stop checks, gathering intelligence and making arrests. In addition, Mounted Officers are a valuable deterrent for crime prevention work and offer public reassurance in the areas they are deployed to.
West Yorkshire Police maintain 13 operational Police Horses where, in addition to operational roles, officers also provide a ceremonial role for certain events, such as Civic or Military parades.
Mounted Sgt Neil Foster said: “The Mounted officers perform a strong role in proactively policing West Yorkshire.’’
Officers who apply to join the department are not required to have previous riding experience. Successful recruits complete a 16 week initial course prior to being operational. They will then continue to improve their riding skills with ongoing training, which is carried out to national standards.
The section is always on the look out for suitable horses which pass certain criteria in relation to size, temperament and conformation. Horses complete a 4 week trial period prior to purchase before being slowly introduced into all aspects of police work and should be fully operational within two years.
Inspector Thackray said: ‘’The owners know the horses are going to be well looked after and they take great pride in seeing them carry out their working role.’’
The horses will normally retire somewhere between 18 and 20yrs of age and arrangements are always made to find a final long term home for them.
Mounted police officers have been used by police in West Yorkshire since the early 1890s.
In 1974, the City of Bradford Police, Leeds City Police and the West Yorkshire Constabulary combined to become the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police. The stables at Leeds and Bradford joined with those at Pontefract to accommodate the Force Mounted Section.
The unit moved to Wakefield in 1995 and the Section is further supported by five stable hands who look after the horses and manage the stables, leaving the officers to concentrate on their policing duties.