Pioneering Romford police officer honoured by the Queen

12:00 12 April 2014

Frank with his British Empire Medial

Frank with his British Empire Medial


A pioneer of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme and a British Empire Medal-winning police officer was buried last month at the age of 84.

Frank shortly before he fell illFrank shortly before he fell ill

The first Neighbourhood Watch was set up in England in 1982 and three years later, the Queen recognised Hornchurch resident Sgt Francis Courtney for his tireless work in Romford and for setting up the first watch scheme within the Metropolitan Police area.

After a five-year battle with cancer Mr Courtney, who was known as Frank to family and friends, was laid to rest on March 24 in Herongate Wood, Billericay.

His widow June, 66, of Burnway, said: “He was one of the pioneers in Havering.

“Neighbourhood Watch hadn’t been rolled out in the Met yet.”

Irish-born Mr Courtney started his career in the Royal Ulster Constabulary but as the Troubles began he moved to London with his first wife and their two children.

He started teaching at police training schools where he instructed the future Mrs Courtney.

The pair hit it off in 1967 and remained together until he died.

Mr Courtney worked in forces all over the capital and in the early 1980s the couple moved to Hornchurch where they settled with their two children.

He worked as a crime prevention officer in Romford for 10 years until he first retired from the police.

Mrs Courtney said: “He was a family man and didn’t have a social life.

“He was happy at home with his family.

“He was always out of the door last and the first back home.”

Mr Courtney leaves four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“I can see a little bit of all of them in him,” said Mrs Courtney.

Cllr Robert Benham, member for community empowerment, said: “Mr Courtney certainly left us with a successful legacy to be proud of.”

The family wish to show their appreciation for Saint Francis Hospice, which cared for Mr Courtney in his final years.

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