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‘You feel dirty a lot of the time’: Policing ‘dirty work’, contamination and purification rituals

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Police Science and Management
Issue number3
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)133-145
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date31/07/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Following the controversial adoption of spit-hoods by some UK police forces, most recently by the London Metropolitan Police in February 2019, this article contributes to and extends debates on physical and symbolic contamination by drawing on established considerations of ‘dirty work’. The article argues that, for police officers, cleansing rituals are personal and subjective. As a relatively high-prestige occupation, police officers occupy a unique position in that they are protected by a status shield. Reflections from this ethnographic study suggest that the police uniform can be used as a vehicle for contamination and staff employ purification rituals and methods of taint management.