Volunteers on horseback join the fight against rural crime in Dorset countryside

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee has been speaking to volunteers helping to fight crime

A group of volunteers on horseback are helping to fight rural crime in Dorset.

The riders began patrolling the county's bridleways and country lanes this week and will gather intelligence and report anything suspicious.

Mounted volunteer Tamsin Doar said: "You do quite often come across livestock worrying, where dogs are off the lead upsetting livestock, suspicious vehicles and activity - stuff like that."

Dorset Police has recently increased the number of officers on its rural crime team, resulting in more arrests and more stolen items being returned.

There is no mounted police section in Dorset and so this is the next best thing.

Andrew Turtle from Dorset Police said volunteer policing will fit in with policing rural communities.

He said: "We will provide them training around policing elements as well as the uniform and they will go out and complete a normal ride. 

"However, because they are linked into the rural crime team, they will also get direction and intelligence from them as well as providing intelligence back to the Rural Crime team."

A group of volunteers on horseback are helping to fight rural crime in Dorset. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Fighting rural crime in Dorset was a key promise from David Sidwick when he was voted in as Police and Crime Commissioner a couple of years ago.

Then there were only three dedicated officers to combat crime in the countryside, and now there are more than a dozen.

He said: "We have invested in the Rural Crime team and they are knocking it out the park with £1.3 million pounds worth of goods given back to the people from whom it was stolen, and a 28% reduction in the cost of rural crime for Dorset."

In the past year, Dorset police says the Rural Crime team has also made 61 arrests and seized 44 vehicles.

However the force denies that this latest volunteer scheme is policing on the cheap.

Assistant Chief Constable Neil Corrigan said: "This is about people who have specialist skills particularly around horses and equestrian matters that can get into the community and offer real visibility, positive for policing presence, who also will connect better with that community and understand their concerns in context and be able to feed it back to the police."

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