Meet Northumbria Police's newest recruit - Shire horse Harrison

Harrison with Sergeant Stu Coates.
Harrison with Sergeant Stu Coates.

The latest recruit aiming to join Northumbria Police’s ranks permanently stands head and shoulders above everyone else – meet Shire horse Harrison.

He became the first Shire horse to join the team last month and will now be put through his paces and hopefully earn a space in the esteemed police stables.

Standing at 17’1 hands and weighing three quarters of a tonne, seven-year-old Harrison will spend three months on loan with the Force, before his fate is decided by Sergeant Stu Coates and his team of experienced riders.

He said: “He’s a lovely temperament, pure-bred, born in Suffolk and everyone already loves him.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do as he was rarely ridden by his previous owners as he was a pet so we will be training him up to deal with everything he might experience during a public order offence.

“We need to make sure that they are used to everything you could come across in a public order incident like flares, flags or busy crowds. They need to be used to it because horses are the last line of defence.

“We do it to have an imposing presence and horses have to be able to carry riders for hours at a time so we are always looking for big, strong horses. We need to be high up to see the trouble before others can.

“They are really useful and if something goes wrong in a public order issue they can hold the line. There’s not a more versatile tool.

“Their functionality ranges from public engagement to crime patrols – we can use them when there have been burglaries in a certain area for example, or on nights out or at the football.

“The public like seeing the horses and are apparently six-times more likely to speak to an officer on horse than foot. It’s just a different type of policing.”

Next month, Sgt Coates will celebrate his two-year anniversary with the Mounted Section and when he’s not on horseback policing large public events like The Tall Ships or travelling across the North East to assist other forces, he’s showing school pupils and visitors around the popular stables.

He said: “I love the relationship between them and the riders. They look after you and you really rely on them. I love coming to work and riding them.

“The stables are always busy with schools, Guides and Scouts, disabled groups, visitors, work experience, you name it. The diary is always full.”