St Albans horse rider leading fight against arson

HORSE riders will become one of the district’s first lines of defence in the fight against arson as a new scheme is rolled out across St Albans this month.

The Community Horse Patrol (CHiPs) will see volunteer riders from stables involved in the scheme given log books and a direct line to report any fly-tipping which could provide arsonists with the perfect opportunity to light a fire.

The idea, which will see riders covering patches they are already familiar with, was set in motion by crew commander at Hemel Hempstead Fire Station, Chris Williams.

Chris, who lives on a horse livery, was approached by a friend and rider and asked if he knew, as a fireman, what she should do when she sees fly tipping while out riding.

He didn’t know but decided more needed to be done to ensure there was a direct line for reporting such findings.

The scheme is being rolled out in partnership with St Albans District Council which was keen to get involved with the idea because of the increase in arson attacks the district has seen this year.

The scheme kicked off this week at Houndswood Livery Stables in Radlett. Only competent riders on specially trained horses will take on the task and all will be fully insured. Herts Fire Service is offering additional training to the volunteers in things such as first aid and incident management.

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Chris said: “Everyone we’ve spoken to about this idea has been really positive.

“Many of them will be doing what they are doing anyway, but we’re giving them recognition for reporting anything they would normally see, and this direct line ensures that action can then be taken. This will reduce the number of fly tipping incidents and reduce cases of arson.

“They will be the eyes and ears in rural areas that are not easy to patrol by any conventional means.”

The scheme, which will also give riders permission to go on footpaths, has received funding for 10 stables in the St Albans district. Each stable will be given a large scale map of their area so areas being patrolled can be recorded and hot spots can be targeted.

Any other stables wishing to be involved in the scheme, can contact Chris Williams via 07931 303821 or