Horse patrol to be Welwyn Hatfield’s countryside eyes and ears

PUBLISHED: 10:02 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:49 21 February 2018

Welwyn Hatfield's CHiPs patrol on their first adventure. Picture: supplied by Herts Fire and Rescue Service

Welwyn Hatfield's CHiPs patrol on their first adventure. Picture: supplied by Herts Fire and Rescue Service

supplied by Herts Fire and Rescue Service

Volunteers on horseback are Welwyn Hatfield’s newest front line against rural and highway nuisances.

On Sunday at Linces Farm, Kimpton Road, four equine heroes and their riders set off in pairs to be the “eyes and ears” of the area, on the lookout for problems such as fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles, and fire hazards.

The scheme, dubbed the Community Horse Patrols (CHiPs), is a partnership between Welwyn Hatfield Community Safety Partnership and Herts Fire Service, and has already been successfully tried in Hertsmere, Hitchin, Wheathampstead, Royston and beyond.

The council claims that in areas already patrolled by the volunteers, incidences of fly-tipping have been reduced from 2-3 per week to virtually none.

Volunteers wear high-vis jackets identifying their role, and sign up to a code of conduct which limits their intervention to reporting only.

Zoe Crossan, CHiPs co-ordinator for Hertsmere, Welwyn and Hatfield said: “People who ride their horses here are passionate about the area they ride around.”

The patrols will also be on the look-out for highways issues, blocked drains, antisocial behaviour, and animal welfare concerns.

Volunteer Jo Parker, 55, a fire service worker from Welwyn, went out on her horse Dexter.

She said: “There’s no set time when we go out, so then we’re being seen by a lot of different people.

“It’s just really to identify any hazards that we could get called to as a fire service - to be there before it happens.”

She added that it’s about having “lots of eyes on the ground - with a horse’s eye view!”

Zoe pointed out that a view of the world from horseback, looking down bridle paths and roadsides, helps get out-of-the-way and rural issues reported earlier.

The riders were waved off by Councillor Roger Trigg, executive member community safety.

Councillor Trigg said: “We know that the CHiPs scheme has proven to be really successfully in other parts of Hertfordshire, so it’s fantastic we’re now able to roll it out in Welwyn Hatfield.”

Chief fire officer and director of community protection Darryl Keen said: “This project is an excellent example of partnership working in action.”

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