Police chiefs are pressing ahead with plans to merge South Yorkshire’s mounted department with those of neighbouring forces, cutting the number of officers and closing stables.
Chief constables in South Yorkshire, Humberside and West Yorkshire have agreed to prepare a business case for moving their mounted units into one location in Wakefield.
The number of officers on horseback would be reduced to 40, while South Yorkshire’s stables at Ring Farm, Cudworth, Barnsley, face being mothballed.
A final decision has yet to be made, but the move now means merging the units is the preferred option.
Police federations claim the plans will have an impact on controlling large-scale public disorder, as well as ending a century of history.
Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “Once these are gone, they are gone, and will never come back.
“They are a vital part of our public order policing. I’m sure this will have an impact on that.”
But Chief Inspector Jim Haylett, from South Yorkshire Police, said the proposed merger ‘will not be an issue for public safety’.
South Yorkshire currently has 13 mounted posts, and the unit costs the force around £1 million a year to run.
High running costs mean there are currently just 16 police forces in England and Wales that still have their own horses.
Dog sections across Yorkshire are also currently under review, with a list of preferred options set to be presented for consideration in the coming months.