Dorset Mounties

Date:

Riding into the fight against rural crime: Andrew Livingston spoke to one of Dorset’s new rural mounted volunteers

Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick (right) with new Rural Mounted Volunteer Tamsin Doar on Stella, the sassy Welsh Cob

You’ll struggle to find a village that doesn’t have a Neighbourhood Watch scheme or a collection of community Speedwatch volunteers. These initiatives allow for a greater number of eyes on those who are breaking the law in residential areas.
But how can you help catch criminals who operate out inn Dorset’s vast countryside?
‘I want the countryside to be as protected as anywhere else when it comes to tackling criminals,’ says Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Sidwick. ‘I’m very clear that the police can never have enough resources to be everywhere, all the time. That’s why we as the public also need to do our bit. It’s why we have the other Watches, but we had a gap. We didn’t have a mounted Neighbourhood Watch and that’s effectively what this is. It is about all of us together, taking on the criminals who cause issues in the countryside.’
Now Dorset has its own team of Rural Mounted Volunteers.
Dorset is not the first county to encourage the public to saddle up and help combat crime by becoming a Rural Mounted Volunteer. But David says his initiative ‘is just one more weapon in our armoury to take on these criminals who plague our countryside’.
With six volunteers currently signed up, the Dorset Rural Crime Team is looking for another 18 volunteers across the county to ensure greater coverage. ‘Their job will be to help the police by giving us evidence and improving visibility in those areas,’ David says. ‘For me, this is just the next step in our journey to tackle rural crime.’
When David Sidwick was elected in 2021 there were only three people in the Dorset Rural Crime Team. ‘When I came into office I was very clear that the people of Dorset wanted rural crime tackled and I made certain that there was investment available.
‘Now we have 18 people on the rural crime team and in the last 18 months, they’ve retrieved more than £1.3 million pounds-worth of stolen goods – tractors, ATVs, generators and farm machinery – and given it back to the victims.’
The statistics show that the PCC’s investment has paid off. The 2023 NFU Mutual Rural Crime report showed a 22 per cent national increase in rural crime. In the same period, Dorset saw a 20 per cent drop.

David Sidwick with some of the Dorset Rural Crime Team

The first Dorset Mountie
Tamsin Doar is one of the six volunteers currently signed up. The 27-year-old, who patrols around Milton Abbas, first rode a horse at the age of two and has a strong farming background. oth her parents and her partner in the industry. It is neither of those, however, that makes her the perfect candidate to be a Rural Mounted Volunteer. There is another thing that makes her the perfect candidate to be a Rural Mounted Volunteer.
‘I actually already work for Dorset Police, in the control room. I heard they were advertising internally through a colleague who was working on the Rural Crime Team.
‘I thought it would be a good way to combine my personal equestrian interest and, from a professional point of view, try to help combat rural crime a little bit – or at least raise awareness and make sure it’s reported.’
As a Control Room Supervisor, Tamsin is usually either handling 999 calls or despatching radio messages to officers to respond to the information phoned in from the public – plenty of experience to help her spot rural crime.
During her 25 years on horseback, there have already been occasions where she has seen crimes that would be worth reporting in her new role. She says: ‘I’ve seen livestock worrying – dog walkers with their dogs off the lead, upsetting sheep and cattle.
‘Sometimes you see injured wildlife, which most of the time has just been hit by a car. But when you’re out in the middle of a field it can look a bit suspicious. Also, certain vehicles … sometimes you might see a car or a vehicle that looks a bit out of place. it’s crawling along looking into farmyards or smallholdings – it just doesn’t quite look right.’

Car vs horse
As a rider, one of the rural crimes she most often spots involves interactions with motorists.
‘It’s the way they respond (or don’t!) appropriately to horse riders. But also farmers have issues where they’re crossing their cattle and a motorist won’t want to wait. That can escalate into an argument.
‘I’ve personally had a few run-ins with motorists who don’t want to slow down.
Particularly at this time of year, when the sun gets quite low, it can take a few extra seconds to see them, which can make a big difference. It’s worse if a rider hasn’t got hi-viz.’
Thankfully, the Rural Crime Team is issuing all of its volunteers with Dorset Police issue high reflective wear for both rider and horse, to make sure they are visible at all times. Plans are also in the works for all Rural Mounted Volunteers to have body cameras on at all times for further evidence collecting when someone spots a crime being committed – or even something suspicious that may require further investigation.
As in all the best police shows, a good cop needs a good partner – Starsky & Hutch, Turner & Hooch, Riggs and Murtaugh … and now Tamsin and Stella.
Any potential criminals in the Milton Abbas area should beware – Tamsin says that her homebred Welsh Cob can be quite sassy!

  • Dorset Police are looking for 18 more volunteers across the county, especially in the Blackmore Vale area. If you are interested in becoming a Rural Mounted Volunteer, apply by emailing vol@dorset.pnn.police.uk

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

More like this
Related

The rise of artisan Sundays

Jules Bradburn’s market empire expands to Dorchester – the...

Naughty Newt and the Lisnaught ladies

We’re excited to welcome Team Rimmer to the BV...

Great Pottery Throw Down star at the new Dorset Spring Show!

The special guest at the inaugural Dorset Spring Show...

Small hands making a big impact

Bingo halls to community calls – Shaftesbury’s Rotakids, a...