‘Courteous’ officer celebrates centenary

Former Yorkshire policeman George McOnegal was the archetypal father-figure bobby long before Dixon of Dock Green.

The ex-sergeant, who is 100 tomorrow, walked every beat in Bradford during his service in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. To mark his milestone birthday, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Sir Norman Bettison, presented him with a miniature police helmet.

Sir Norman said: “During his time in Bradford he covered every beat area, getting to know the people on his patch. This is precisely the ethos behind neighbourhood policing and it is as relevant today as it was 70-odd years ago.

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“He vividly recalls his time working out of the former City Hall police station and was delighted to hear that the same facility is being transformed into a contact point for officers within the current neighbourhood policing team.

Mr McOnegal joined Bradford police aged 21 in 1932.

Dorothy Bell, secretary for the National Association of Retired Police Officers, who presented him with a silver whistle, said: “Sergeant McOnegal worked at a time of extremely unsocial hours without the security of police radios or the comfort of panda cars during his years as a police officer.

“I first got to know George in the early days of my service, just before he retired. At the time he was a custody sergeant in the cell area and I remember well his calm and deliberate way of speaking, giving authority to what he said.

“He was extremely courteous and even violent prisoners calmed down when he was dealing with them. There was seldom any trouble in the charge office when George was on duty. He was always a father figure to young officers.

“The young officers always gave a sigh of relief when they took a prisoner into the former City Hall police station and were told that Sergeant McOnegal was the charge officer as they knew they’d be treated courteously and given the correct advice.”