STARING crime in the face on a daily basis is a daunting task but for Insp Mark McQuade it became much easier with his loving partner by his side.

Mark retired last week after dedicating the last 27 years to fighting crime in south Essex, dealing with drug dealers, violent criminals and thieves with alarming regularity.

To mark his retirement, Mark completed one final patrol along Southend seafront hand-in-hand with his colleague and wife, inspector Penny McQuade.

Despite the stress of the job, the crime-fighting duo have been together for the last 20 years after first meeting while working together at Southend Police Station.

Whenever times became tough, he admits he took extra comfort in knowing she was by his side and had a shared understanding of the intensity and pressures of being an officer.

Mark added: “We worked in the same station in Southend, and if we had testing times on the job, we could discuss it.

“We were fortunate as we could understand the intensity of policing, we could offload to each other.

“It was really nice to be able to have that for 20 years of my career.”

Mark previously served in the Army and worked as a prison officer before joining Essex Police as a Police Constable in 1997.

Over the 27 years, Mark covered the majority of south Essex, including Westcliff, Canvey, Hadleigh, Basildon, and Southend.

In his time, Mark came across a variety of crimes, as well as completing work with the community and schools, and dealing with violent criminals.

Mark said: “I have had a fantastic 27 years. I have enjoyed it massively and loved every minute of it. It is a really sad time for me to leave. I will, and need to, get back into some sort of volunteering, community work.

“I have loved making connections with the community, standing in front of people, talking about policing. It is a massive change as it has been a part of me for almost 30 years. I don’t think I had one day where I haven’t wanted to go to work.”

Mark highlighted how within all his work, he wanted to change the public’s perception of the police force.

He added: “I wanted to change the way we are viewed. In my 27 years, I can honestly say hand on heart, I never disrespected anyone or spoke to someone in a way I wouldn’t want to be spoken to. Whether that was with a prisoner, in custody, or members of the pub.

“When patrolling, I would always say good morning, good afternoon, so hundreds of people, whether they were elderly, homeless, young people.

“It builds confidence as people love seeing a police presence, but they also see that we are approachable. In turn that should help deter crime. I’ll really miss that aspect of it.”

Mark investigated hundreds of crimes over his time, but one of the notable ones was early on his career in 2001. This was the murder of Danielle Jones, a 15-year-old schoolgirl who disappeared from East Tilbury.

It is considered one of the biggest cases Essex Police had to deal with at the time, and despite their best efforts her body was never found. However, on December 19, 2002, Stuart Campbell, Jones’ uncle, was convicted of her abduction and murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

One of Mark’s favourite parts of the role came away from fighting crime, and he loved the community aspects of the job including giving talks to youngsters at schools.

He hoped this would change many of the young people’s view on policing as well as their outlook on life.

Despite retiring from the police, Mark is hoping to get back into volunteering and community work.