The future of police horses is still uncertain following a public meeting about the force’s medium term budget plans.
Chief constable Francis Habgood presented the capital and revenue plans to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, at a public meeting at the force’s headquarters in Oxford Road, Kidlington, today (Tuesday).
It is not clear if the mounted section, which was under threat under new cost-cutting proposals, will be scrapped or not, with chief constable Habgood saying TVP was “still reviewing” the “operational requirements” for the “iconic” service.
He also said the force had more dog handlers and dogs than other equivalent forces, and plans are “under development” to review how they are deployed across TVP and Hampshire Constabulary.
He said: “We need to find, and will find, savings of about £15 million over the next three years.
“Thames Valley Police already has a great track record in improving efficiency. We have already saved about £99 million since 2010.
“That is almost a quarter of the budget for next year.
“There has been some public interest in our plans for the Joint Operations Unit (JOU) which we operate jointly with Hampshire Constabulary.
“The JOU has been carefully assessed to ensure we maximise our finite resources.
“We are still reviewing our operational requirements for a mounted section and the financial implications, but no decisions have been made about its long term future.
“I can confirm that we have no intention to remove our mounted section before Ascot 2019 at the earliest.
“I continue to receive representations from officers and stakeholders about alternative means of funding this iconic service and a full range of options will be considered over the coming year.
“We will always be required to make tough decisions about how best to shape our organisation.
“We have to both deliver today, and also plan for the future to ensure we continue to keep the communities of Thames Valley safe.”
The proposals were slammed by supporters of the service, with High Wycombe mayor Brian Pearce saying it was “absolutely monstrous” to consider scrapping it.
Mr Stansfeld said £99 million had been removed from the force’s budget and a further £14.3 million savings need to be made over the next three years.
He said: “The force has risen to this challenge and managed to make efficiency savings across the organisation, however, with demands on policing continuing to increase we have now reached the stage that any further cuts would have a fundamental impact on the front line.
“Over recent days there has been significant coverage regarding possible cuts to the mounted section and the dog section within the Thames Valley.
“I can confirm that the budget I approved today does not include any reductions in the funding for these departments.
“The chief constable has assured me that he is currently reviewing how they are deployed and the operational requirements, and that no decisions have been made to make cuts to either unit.
“I recognise the valuable contribution both the mounted section and dog section make to policing in the area and I remain fully supportive of both sections.
“Once the review has been completed I will discuss further with the chief constable.
The budget will go to the Police and Crime Panel on the February 2 for final approval.
Source: Local Bucks