Overtime, irregular workhours taking a toll on B’luru cops’ health

City Governance Health

Study finds 57% of them could be stressed out

Bengaluru: Police personnel in Bengaluru are at a risk of having stress-induced problems like hypertension, cardiovascular disease and depression, a study by Dr B.G. Sudarshan, medical officer and professor at the RV College of Engineering, reveals.

As many as 57% of police personnel in Bengaluru could be facing stress. This can be due to operational or organisational factors. The operational stressors include overtime work and irregular workhours. Organisational factors that cause stress were found to be lack of promotion opportunities, inadequate pay and an understaffed police force.

Records from the administration department shared with The Observer show that Bengaluru police are understaffed. As on September 30, 2019, the force was short of 1,664 constables. There were also over 400 vacancies of the post of sub-inspector. Owing to this, personnel have to work overtime and at irregular hours. 

Sub-inspector Nagesh informed The Observer that stress is a part of the job. “A police job comes with challenges like stress and irregular work hours, but I knew this when I joined the force. It is an honour to get a chance to wear the uniform. I am satisfied that I contribute to society.”

Nagesh, posted in Kumaraswamy Layout, shared that he exercises every morning to stay fit and keep up with the physical requirements of his job.

Sub-inspector Chandan Kale of the Jayanagar police station shared similar thoughts.  “I enjoy my job. However, we have to be ready for overtime work. Whenever the demand comes, we have to be prepared.” He said there are good promotion opportunities available in Bengaluru police.

Out of the total 1,555 police personnel included in the study, ranging from 25 years to 55 years of age, personnel in the 30-35 age group were found to have more operational and organisational stressors than other age groups. As a result, this age group showed adverse results in health parameters like blood pressure, pulse rate, ECG and heart rate variability.

Dr Devvarta Kumar, associate professor, department of clinical psychology, NIMHANS, said:  “Anyone can have stress and mental health issues – a journalist or a doctor. And the same applies for police personnel as well.  Stress has complex psychophysiological mechanisms. Prolonged or chronic stress may lead to problems related to physical and mental health.”

Dr Kumar said NIMHANS has initiated a police well-being programme in collaboration with Karnataka police. “Well-being officers have been recruited who carry various activities related to positive mental health for the staff and their family members,” he informed The Observer.

The Model Police Act, 2006, was enacted to ensure that police personnel get health insurance cover and regular check-ups. A Police Welfare Board has been proposed to look after these requirements. This board will also ensure there is a limit on the working hours of personnel in the state.

Speaking to The Observer, Nisha James, DCP Admin, said: “There is no Police Welfare Board for Bengaluru, but we have the Arogya Bhagye Yojana and annual health check-ups for our police personnel.”

The Arogya Bhagye Yojana, a scheme launched by Karnataka Government in 2018, provides healthcare to police personnel and other government employees at subsidised rates across government hospitals.

The study by Dr Sudarshan also proposes ways to solve these problems. It advises frequent and rigorous health check-ups for police personnel, including psychological evaluations. It also advises revising pay scales and promotional policies, and action to maintain adequate police staff in the force.

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