A CRIME prevention project aiming to protect horse owners from thieves is to get identity chips for horses thanks to cash confiscated from crooks.

North Wales Horse Watch wants to make it easier to trace stolen horses and catch the rustlers as well as making members of the equine community more aware of the threat of crime.

Helen Lacey, from Wrexham, who founded the scheme in 2010 after she had a harness and a generator stolen, says the award of a £4,920 grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones will help the group promote crime prevention across the region.

The Your Community Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) which is celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2019.

Money for the awards came partly from money seized by the courts through the Proceeds of Crime Act with the rest from the Police Commissioner’s Fund.

Each of the region’s six counties have up to £2,500 apiece for two groups with £5,000 each for two organisations that operate in three or more counties.

In addition this year, thanks to additional funding from the police and crime commissioner and North Wales Police, there are two new grants of £10,000.

The larger grants are designed to fund projects addressing issues related to the emerging threat of County Lines, where young people are being coerced and threatened with violence to take part in illegal activity across the region.

Around 15,000 votes were cast in an online poll to decide which of the community schemes received support, with the cheque presentation to 19 successful applicants at North Wales Police headquarters in Colwyn Bay.

Helen, of Wrexham, said: “After I had equipment stolen the PCSO who dealt with the crime saw we needed an equine version of Farm Watch. We now have 10 volunteers and we security mark tack, equipment trailers, carriages and quads using various forms of marking.

“Rural crime is on the increase so we have put more crime prevention in place so getting more volunteers out giving advice and marking tack and other equipment as well as giving guidance on welfare issues such as fly grazing is vital.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who jointly presented the awards with new Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett, said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across north Wales for a seventh consecutive year.

“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system and the response has seen almost 15,000 members of the public vote for a total of 30 projects.

“These projects help to support my Police and Crime Plan whose purpose is to ensure that North Wales Police is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.

“Many of you will be aware of the recent Third Sector consultation that I carried out which has resulted in an update to my priorities to include the ways in which we address emerging trends including Organised Crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

“Community groups are vital to the citizens of north Wales, and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”

Sacha Hatchett said: “This money includes cash from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is a particularly vital message as through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.

“Our operations target all types of serious criminality including cross border crime, armed robbery, criminal use of firearms as well as drug production, importation and supply.

“Those who are involved in serious and organised crime often live well beyond their means, drive expensive cars, live in large houses and frequently holiday abroad; they may well be living lifestyles on the proceeds of crime.

“Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.

“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that's being used for a constructive purpose.”