Speeding in country lanes has dropped dramatically since volunteers on horseback started patrolling rural areas of Rutland, police say.
And the “incredible response” from residents keen to enlist for the Mounted Police Community Volunteers scheme, to help tackle rural crime in the county, has led to other forces looking set to follow.
The Leicestershire Police initiative, spearheaded by Inspector Lou Cordiner, was launched on December 9 with five mounted police volunteers, in reflective jackets, tasked with acting as the eyes and ears of the community,
The initial plan had been to role out the scheme across the county gradually as more volunteers came on board.
But Rutland Policing Unit Commander Insp Cordiner said: “The response from people has been incredible.
“Initially we hoped to recruit 30 volunteers over a period, but just five weeks after we launched, we had all 30. And there are so many more who want to join.”
The keenness of Rutlanders who are willing to patrol their neighbourhoods on horseback, has forced Inspector Cordiner to extend the scheme to include another 50 volunteers, taking the total number of volunteers to 80.
“I have been delighted with the outcome,” she said.
“I’ve had to dramatically increase the number of people I take and get more jackets.
“I think we will have the entire county covered in rural areas.”
The scheme hopes to use visible policing to reassure the community, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and reduce speeding on country roads.
Insp Cordiner said: “Every single one of my volunteers are saying that the speed reduction has been amazing.”
She believes that is because when mounted volunteers report a speeding problems in an area the ground speed volunteers are deployed to take registration numbers and send warning letters to errant drivers.
She added: “And we’ve had no reports of any anti-social behaviour.”
Insp Cordiner, whose inspiration for the scheme was her own experience of being out riding her 14-year-old black cob Murphy in rural Rutland, said she has had “nothing but positive responses” about the scheme since it launch with other police forces now asking to find out how they can introduce it in their rural areas.
Believed to be the first such operating scheme of its kind in the country, Rutland’s Mounted Police Community Volunteers will report anything unusual or suspicious they see.
Dressed in reflective yellow jackets sporting the words Police Community Volunteers, the riders will pay particular attention to speeding and fly tipping.
The volunteers will not have any additional powers, other than those held by ordinary individuals.
All 80 volunteers will now also receive first aid training which will be provided free by a member of St John Ambulance.
For more details or to volunteer, call 101 and follow the instructions to leave a message for Insp Cordiner, identification number 4004.