Popular Leeds bobby dies at just 58

OLD-STYLE BOBBY: PC Tony Sweeney in Lincoln Green.
OLD-STYLE BOBBY: PC Tony Sweeney in Lincoln Green.
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A popular police officer who won the Queen’s Police Medal for his services to the community has died at the age of 58.

PC Tony Sweeney, a former community officer in Lincoln Green, helped transform crime rates in the high-rise estate from 40 burglaries a month down to just two.

He was on first names terms with many criminals as he kept his eye on crime, using the old-fashioned policing method of walking around on foot and having a cuppa with locals.

Tony was featured in a documentary called Forgotten Britain presented by Feargal Keane.

The grandfather’s ‘Dixon of Dock Green-style’ policing resulted in him winning British Community Constable of the Year in 2000 for his grass-roots level approach and a year later he received the Queen’s Police Medal.

At the time he said: “It is a fantastic honour to be recognised and to receive such an award. I accept it on behalf of every police officer working within communities throughout the country who are striving to improve the quality of life for people by reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.”

He also worked hard to prevent fuel thefts from garages across Leeds.

Tony died on December 27 suddenly after feeling unwell at work and deciding to go home. On the way home to Harrogate he was taken ill and pulled his car over and it is thought he suffered a heart attack.

Supt Martin Snowden, of North East Leeds Division, said: “Tony was very well known and well liked by his colleagues and the public. His sudden and unexpected death has left all who knew him deeply upset and we are offering our support to everyone affected.

“Tony was a pioneer of Neighbourhood Policing and was a regular campaigner on a range of policing issues. He took a genuine personal pride in his work and loved being at the heart of the community tackling the issues that impact most on people’s daily lives.

“His commitment to the areas he served saw him awarded the Queens Police Medal in 2001 for Services to the Community.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: “This is very sad news. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.”

Coun Gerry Harper said: “We worked together tackling crime in my old Burmantofts ward. He was very well respected and a credit to the West Yorkshire Police and will be sadly missed not only as a fine officer but as a dear friend.”

Tony leaves his wife, a son and daughter and two grandchildren.

His funeral is at St Wilfrid’s Church, Duchy Road, in Harrogate, on January 11.

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