Senior detective who started career in Sunderland retires after 30 years of protecting vulnerable children
After 30 years of protecting vulnerable children from abuse, a police detective is preparing to leave the station for one last time, and with no regrets.
Detective Inspector Denise Clarke is leaving Northumbria Police after a successful career protecting vulnerable children across the force area.
Every day, her focus was on making a difference and changing lives for the better - and now Denise has spoken of the "rollercoaster" she has experienced during her years at the police.
The DI began her first shift on the beat at Gillbridge Police Station, Sunderland, before joining CID four-and-a-half years later as part of a large-scale child abuse operation.
She realised through the gruelling work that protecting people was her passion, and by 2005 Denise had risen through the ranks to become a Detective Inspector and was leading the Protecting Vulnerable People Team in South Tyneside.
In 2016, she helped launch a major investigation into historic child abuse within the footballing community - Operation Tide.
She said: "Operation Tide has definitely been something special to work on and certainly the biggest achievement for me personally.
"Just the thought of what those boys went through and to have lived with that all their lives until now is devastating. These now grown men have been incredibly brave in coming forward after all these years. I wanted to give them their lives back and help them seek justice.
"It is truly satisfying to be able to deliver a positive result for these victims – I feel like we've made a big difference."
As her retirement begins, Denise has also shared her advice to those hoping to join the safeguarding world and her key tip is a simple one - work hard.
She continued: "There are some really tough days – and sometimes the outcomes don't always go the way you'd hoped.
"However, these bad days are massively outweighed by the good days – the really, really good days – the positive outcomes and justice for victims who can't fight for justice themselves.
"The sense of achievement is greater than any other job you will do. You genuinely can make a difference. It is a job like no other. "
Denise plans to spend her retirement with her husband and border collie.
In the coming weeks, Northumbria Police will share more stories of some of the faces behind the uniform as part of a new feature called #ProudOfOurPeople.