Norfolk police’s mounted specials scheme could be up and running in South Norfolk by the end of next month

Ambitious plans which will see mounted specials providing a high visibility presence from the end of next month are about to enter the final furlong.

Police chiefs in the county are keen to increase visibility and public reassurance in rural areas by bringing in mounted specials which have proved so successful in Hertfordshire since they were launched in 2009.

At least five Norfolk specials who own horses have indicated they are willing to take part in the initiative which could be launched in the south Norfolk area by the end of next month.

Temporary Chief Supt Nick Dean, who leads Norfolk's highly successful Operation Randall initiative aimed at tackling rural crime with the help and support of members of the agricultural community, said the force was just waiting for confirmation about insurance cover – for officers and the horses – in event of injury.

Mr Dean, who is 'pretty confident' about overcoming insurance problems, said the final hurdle will then be an assessment for riders and horses next month.

He said: 'We're doing the assessment at the World Horse Welfare Centre at Snetterton on February 19 and then all we need is the kit and we're home and dry.

'Then we can get it up and running just south of Norwich, which is where most of the horses are living and stabled.'

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The proposals received 'quite positive' feedback at a presentation Mr Dean gave to farmers in the Dereham area earlier this month, particularly in terms of issues like fly-tipping.

And it was issues like fly-tipping and other 'low level anti social behaviour' where Mr Dean, who is head of the county's policing command, said the horses would come into their own.

He said: 'It's not about tackling organised criminals or public order, it's the stuff that really affects people's quality of life as well as confidence around visibility.'

It is hopes the presence of horses in the countryside would also encourage greater interaction with members of the public, many of whom might stop to talk to the riders and provide information or intelligence.

Plans to launch a scheme in Norfolk have gathered momentum since officers from Hertfordshire, the first force in the country to use mounted specials, gave a presentation at Wymondham police headquarters last year.

Hertfordshire, which has 26 rural special constables including four mounted already in post, is looking to recruit up to 32 rural special constables on horseback by March.

Chris Miller, assistant chief constable, said they had made a 'positive impact'.

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