Police on horseback raise levels of public trust and engagement with officers, according to a new study.
A report into the effectiveness of mounted police, the first of its kind, suggested that when deployed on community patrols, units on horseback appeared more visible to the public than officers on foot.
But researchers from the University of Oxford, who carried out the study along with think tank Rand Europe, said the number of mounted units across the UK had fallen from 17 to 12 in the three years prior to 2013, with some forces closing them in response to Government austerity measures.
The report, commissioned by the Association of Chief Police Officers, highlighted a study of mounted patrols in areas of Gloucester and south London which suggested they had six times as many interactions with the public as officers on foot.
Co-author Ben Bradford, from the University of Oxford's Centre for Criminology, said: "After an initial period of surveying in each of the areas in February 2014, mounted community patrols took place in three of them in March. A second round of surveying took place in April.
"Early results reveal a measurable value and impact of mounted police in neighbourhood settings. People who have recently seen mounted patrols tend to have higher levels of trust and confidence in police."