Hertfordshire’s crime commissioner is working in conjunction with an animal charity in an effort to tackle the countywide problem of ‘fly-grazing’ and stray horses.
Fly-grazing involves using someone else’s land, without permission, to graze animals which are often in poor condition and not properly secured, allowing them to stray onto roads, causing traffic delays and potentially serious accidents.
Commissioner David Lloyd has joined charity the British Horse Society, local authorities, the police, the National Farmers’ Union and land owners to try and tackle the problem.
He said: “This is a real problem in Hertfordshire, which has a large concentration of busy major highways running adjacent to land which is used for fly grazing. “In my position as Police and Crime Commissioner I have a unique overview of these types of multi-agency issues and my deputy, David Gibson, is taking forward this project on my behalf, ensuring that it is resolved and not left on the ‘too difficult’ pile again.”
Last month 36 stakeholders in the county’s branch of the Horse Society met to discuss the issues and gain an understanding of the current legislation regarding horse ownership and fly-grazing.
The group is set to meet again after the adoption of the Control of Horses Bill which is expected to be ratified by the government in early 2015.
The bill will help agencies to detain and remove horses that are fly grazing, with claims for costs against owners.
Deputy PCC David Gibson said that he had raised the issue of fly grazing with the newly-formed National Rural Crime Network, an organisation set up to help tackle rural crime issues and share good practice and possible solutions.
Mr Gibson has asked the network to consider making fly-grazing one of its priority issues for the coming year.
He also said that fly -razing and other rural crime issues would be considered as part of any future update of Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Plan.
BHS county chair Lynn Myland said: “We heard that police have to close the roads, attempt to catch the horses and trace the owners.
“Quite often no one comes forward to claim ownership.
“This takes hours of police time and can be stressful for all concerned, especially for a driver who has hit a horse.”
Ms Myland added: “There were some very constructive debates and it was very positive to hear so many key people advising on a way forward.
“The seminar gave the opportunity to network and engage in what can be a very complex issue.
“The British Horse Society in Hertfordshire has developed a draft procedure which endeavours to provide clear roles and responsibilities for agencies and land owners.
“It will also give advice to the public about who to contact when they come across this very stressful, and often dangerous, situation.”
MP fir nearby St Albans Anne Main has also given her backing to the bill when it is disucssed in Parliament.