Police aim to cut numbers at horse fair

Crowds at Wickham Horse Fair
Crowds at Wickham Horse Fair

Wallet taken from vehicle

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POLICE are aiming to scale back their presence at Wickham Horse Fair after just one assault was reported this year.

Figures obtained by The News show 68 officers were involved in planning, policing and planning for the historic event.

But Hampshire police has now confirmed bosses are aiming to wind down the number of officers. In 2015, about 166 officers were involved in the event, which draws hundreds of people from traveller communities.

Cllr Angela Clear, chairwoman of Wickham Parish Council, said: ‘It’s not been a concern for me.

‘If because there was a reduction in police and everybody had fights and trouble I might say it looks as if the reduction did cause the problem – but no, it didn’t.’

Superintendent Ali Heydari was police commander for the Wickham Horse Fair this year.

She said: ‘A lot of time and planning goes into making sure large-scale events in Hampshire run smoothly to make them enjoyable for those that attended and disrupt local people as little as possible. All events are risk assessed each year and then appropriately policed.

‘By doing this and working closely with our partner agencies we have managed to reduce staffing for the Wickham Horse Fair by 59 per cent since 2015 and keep crime at very low levels.

‘We believe the fact that there was only one crime reported which was directly connected to the fair means we got our planning and staffing for this year’s event about right.’

In response to Freedom of Information Act requests from The News, the force said it was reducing police at the event.

‘Hampshire Constabulary can confirm it is reducing the policing presence year on year as it is standard organisational practice to forward plan and to seek to reduce costs,’ a statement said.

The force refused to say how many worked on the day, May 20. The fair has no overall organiser, with the police, RSPCA and council left to cover their own costs.

The force said officers were stood down at the end of the day according to a ‘threat and risk’ assessment.