Budget pressures will see the mounted police unit in Essex, England, disbanded.
Essex Police said the decision was made with great reluctance, but cited increasing financial pressure as the reason.
Assistant Chief Constable Sue Harrison said Essex Police faced hard choices over funding and was required to reduce spending by £42 million by 2014. This has already meant the loss of 807 posts across the force, including 324 police officers, 100 police community support officers, and 383 other staff since April 2011.
“We know that the public, police officers and staff hold the Mounted Section in great affection and the unit has provided great service over the years,” Harrison said.
“However, the financial pressures we face need to be met head on and inevitably difficult decisions have to be made.
“The disbanding of the Mounted Section will lead to approximately £600,000 of savings annually and the decision to remove these posts is part of the on-going planned reduction of police-officer numbers over the four-year Reform change programme.
“Officers based within the unit will take up new roles elsewhere in the force and staff members will be eligible for redeployment. ”
Harrison said a detailed plan for the disbanding of the unit was now being progressed.
She said if the force had not taken the decision, then Essex would have had to lose even more officer positions across the force.
“Securing a good home for the horses will continue to be paramount and we will explore all avenues to achieve this including transferring them to other forces,” she said.
“On behalf of all at Essex Police, I would like to express our gratitude for the fine work undertaken by officers, staff and horses of our Mounted Section.”
Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling on Essex Police to retain the horse unit, which was reintroduced only five years ago.