130 years of Merseyside
Police's Mounted Section
MERSEYSIDE Police, on Thursday, 8
September 2016, have mark 130 years since the creation of its mounted section.
In 1886 Liverpool Police became the 1st Provincial Police Force, in Britain, to
maintain a permanent Mounted Branch. On Thursday, 8 September 2016, the entire
Mounted Section, joined by Chief Constable Andy Cooke and Police and Crime
Commissioner Jane Kennedy for a team photograph, a tradition which began in
1925. Some of the current crop of horses put on a display of their prowess by
responding to a variety of simulated challenges, such as a crowd mimicking a
protest with flags, a giant see saw to train them to walk on difficult terrain,
and a barrel full of stones to simulate noise.
The section will also be visited by Phil Smith, 74, a former Mounted Officer,
who was a sergeant in the Mounted Section for 12 years before retiring from the
force in 1994. He featured on the photo taken for the section's 100th
Anniversary in 1986.
Phil Smith said:- "Back then every
Officer had their own horse which you had to muck out and look after yourself.
When I retired, my horse Olly retired too and I took him on as a pet right up
until he came to the end of his days. The section underwent a period of
modernisation while I was there. When I started, Mounted Officers would go out
without a radio and the section was treated quite separately to the rest of the
force, but now it is much more integrated. During my time we began to be called
to any incidents in parks or on beaches which Officers on foot couldn't get to
and we became a more active department in General Policing, as well as Policing
football matches. When I was in the section, the Lord Mayor always attended
official functions, by horsedrawn carriage, with 4 mounted Officers in
ceremonial uniform and I was on duty for the last of those. In 1982 we were also
involved in the visit of Pope John Paul II when there were hundreds and
thousands of people in the streets."
The force has experienced huge change since the Mounted Section was formed in
1886 to replace the inefficient hiring of horses from local 'jobmasters'.
With few telephones in the force, horses were used by Officers to transport
urgent messages as well as for the transport of prisoners.
During a Transport Strike in 1911 they were
even used to transport food desperately needed by the local population.
Over the years, the section helped Police Royal Visits, World Cup matches in
1966, a civic reception for The Beatles, and regular trophy processions by
Everton and Liverpool football clubs.
In 1938 the Mounted Section moved from its original Headquarters, located in
Hatton Garden, within the City Centre, to its current base at Mather Avenue and
is today used for crowd control, to patrol the shorelines in holiday season and
famously to guide the victorious horse in the Grand National, into the winner's
Temporary Sergeant Kit Yorke said:- "The Mounted Section now helps Police
a range of events, including:- major sporting events, Armed Forces Day,
Liverpool Pride, music festivals, the Grand National, community events and the
visit of the Giants. Another important part of our job is patrolling the City
Centre on a Friday and Saturday night, keeping the public safe. Mounted Officers
can be deployed around Merseyside providing high visibility patrols to areas
that have been subject to serious incidents. This provides public reassurance
and give the Officers the opportunity to engage with the community affected.
Often local residents will approach those Officers on horseback and highlight
community issues, meaning Officers are able to feed back to local patrols or
partner agencies so they can tackle the problems."