Northamptonshire volunteer police riders

Police have signed up 50 volunteer horse riders in Northamptonshire to act as extra eyes and ears in the battle against rural crime.

The volunteers on horseback are being asked to keep watch for problems in rural areas while they are out and about and let the police know of any issues.

Riders are all aged 18 and over and provide their own horses.

See also: Read all the latest stories on rural crime

Before joining the scheme, they undertake road-safety training with the British Horse Society and are given an equestrian jacket featuring the police logo to identify them as volunteers.

They will not be given patrol routes or asked to confront people they see breaking the law.

Instead, they will be asked to report any issues they see to the police as they travel along lanes, bridleways and paths in the countryside.

It is hoped their presence will also have an impact on motorists in rural areas who will be encouraged to slow down by the presence of uniformed riders.

The move to introduce volunteers on horseback follows similar projects launched by a number of other forces across the country.

Hertfordshire Police have four specials constables who ride horses and a number of volunteer riders. Their scheme was launched in 2009 and has been well received.

Norfolk Police have a number of special constables who use their own horses for patrols. The force has a number of volunteers on horseback in Hampshire.