Working in the police is a rewarding career, but it is also stressful and traumatic. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of police officers leaving the force. This is due to a number of factors, including:
- Low pay and poor working conditions: Police officers in the UK are paid significantly less than their counterparts in other countries. They also often work long hours and have to deal with difficult and dangerous situations, often alone and with no support, if/when things go wrong.
- A lack of public support: The police have been in the news a lot in recent years for negative reasons. This has led to a decline in public trust and support for the police. There is still a ‘general support’ but only because most people now they are needed, otherwise the job cops do is ignored by many.
- Increased scrutiny and accountability: Police officers are now subject to more scrutiny and accountability than ever before. This can make the job more stressful, demanding and with a constant eye over your shoulder you should not be fearful of a bad outcome, but you are.
- Recognition of work area: Police officers hunt, chase and deal with people in rough, ignored and forgotten neighbourhoods. The support of the general public and feeling of ill will from these types of communities, has a grinding effect on self security and wellness. No one wants to have to do a job where they fear repercussions of doing their duty, Every Single Day.
- Toxic environment: Organisations that lack the ability to empathise with their staff and ignore negative emotions within its buildings is not healthy. Police officer often do not have friends outside of the organisation and are subjected to negative thinking, conversations and processes associated with the work (24/7). Unlike external organisations, most police managers have risen through the ranks through creative discussions and not because of their ability to manage people or situations (comparing it to the companies I have since worked for, this has been my biggest surprise).
If you are thinking of leaving UK policing, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons carefully. On the one hand, you may be leaving a job that you love and that makes a real difference to people’s lives. On the other hand, you may be leaving a job that is causing you stress and trauma. After 19 years I was medically retired, a gun incident that left deep mental scars and a life time of PTSD and trauma showed me the door. I would still be there helping victims, chasing bad people and subjecting myself to even more stress and mental harm until I retired through age.
If you do decide to leave, it is important to do so in a positive way. This means recognising your decision, making plans and giving in your notice, make sure you leave on good terms. It is so important to have a plan for what you are going to do next, I know this because I was lost, panicking for 6 months after handing in my warrant card.
Resigning from the police can be a positive thing and for me it gave me back my life. It can give you the opportunity to:
- Improve your work-life balance: Police officers work long hours and have to deal with difficult and unpredictable situations. This can make it difficult to have a healthy life style. When you resign, you will have more control over your working hours, I was able to spend more time with family and made new (non-toxic) friends.
- Reduce stress and trauma: Working in the police was a stressful and traumatic job. When you resign, you will be able to reduce the amount exposure to trauma in your life. This WILL improve your mental and physical health.
- Use your skills: Leaving the police gives you the opportunity to pursue a new career. You may have always wanted to do something else, but you never had the time or opportunity. When you resign, you will have the freedom to explore new career options. Seek out a CV writer who specialises in Police Officers, they are worth the investment.
Of course, resigning from the police is not a decision to be taken lightly. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons carefully and to make sure that you have a plan for what you are going to do next.
Personal development and recovery
If you have decided to leave policing, it is important to focus on your own personal development and recovery. This is a challenging process, but it is important to be patient and to take care of yourself.
Here are some of my tips:
- Talk to someone you trust: It can be helpful to talk to someone about your decision to leave the police and about your feelings. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or counsellor. Chose someone that you know is going to be honest with you and not someone who is in the same boat.
- Take some time for yourself: When you leave the police, it is important to take some time for yourself to relax and recharge. This could involve spending time with your loved ones, going on holiday, or taking up a new hobby. I bought a fixer upper house and tried my hand at Airfix (I was rubbish are the modelling but had fun finding this out).
- Invest in yourself: If you want to do something different, find a course, a qualification and do it. Cops are known to be tight with money (we had to be) but promise yourself £1,000 to get the right qualification – DO NOT skimp on finding the cheapest! This investment will pay dividends and offer your amazing skills set, wrapped up in a qualification, that employers truly want.
- Seek professional help if needed: If you are struggling to cope with the transition back into civilian life, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist or counsellor or coach can help you to deal with stress, trauma, and any other challenges.
Leaving UK policing can be a difficult decision, but it can also be a positive one. For the last 4 years I have been a Project manager, and been running my own speaking business. The freedom and flexibility has been rewarding and apart from the 6 months of panic, I have never looked back. Focusing on your personal development and recovery, you too can make the transition to civilian life a success.