Over and out: the damaged and conflicting identities of officers voluntarily resigning from the police service

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This paper seeks to understand the complexities associated with managing and ultimately exiting a career in the police through an analysis of semi-structured interviews undertaken with 27 police officers who voluntarily resigned from an English police force between 2014 and 2019. It does this through a microsociological approach to the study of identity construction which focuses upon the interactive and shifting relationships within policing identities and considers both the role of the individual and of the organisation itself in identity management. The findings indicate that police officers suffer irreconcilable identity threats through an incompatibility between their work and non-work roles and a perception that their work is not valued or recognised and has not met their prior expectations. These issues are exacerbated for those returning from maternity leave and for primary care givers and further by the salience of the policing identity. Despite undertaking identity work in order to align the incongruity in their conflicted and damaged identities and despite their attempts to mitigate the impact of implicit organisational control through the management of identities, officers ultimately feel that their only course of action is to voluntarily resign.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicing and Society
Early online date8 May 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 8 May 2023


  • Policing identity
  • identity work
  • police resignations
  • identity regulation
  • voluntary resignations

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