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20 Apr 2024, Edition - 3203, Saturday

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‘Sickening’ work conditions driving cops to hospitals

Archana Rohit


Erratic working hours and stress has resulted in an average five policemen visiting the health clinic daily at GEM Hospital And Research Center.

Madras High Court gauged the challenges policemen face and suggested introduction of an 8-hour, three-shift system.Salem Superintendent of Police Gerogy George was the first officer to introduce a daily off once a fortnight in stations under his jurisdiction.

A study by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) and Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) found that 90 percent of police officers worked for more than eight hours a day and 73 percent did not get a weekly off even once a month. They were called for emergency duty even when they got the rare off.

Dr. P. Sivaprakasam,Medical Superintendent,Gem Hospital says most of the policemen suffer from liver, ulcer, gastric and pancreatic diseases. This was due to irregular shifts and unhealthy food habits. “Untimely intake of food is the major reason for policemen to have issues. Nutritional disorder was found more among constables,” he adds.

A policeman spoke with Covai Post and said, “Duty time starts from 7 am which may extend till midnight. We are not able to have our food on time. We have our lunch around 4 pm and if workload is more we sometimes skip meals.”

Men in khaki are not just compromising their health but sacrificing their social and family life as well. They are usually not granted leave. However, during their off time most cops (over 80 percent) are recalled for emergency duty.

“Leave won’t be sanctioned all on a sudden. If any issue happens in the family, I may not be able to attend it immediately,” said another policeman.

A senior policeman said, “It’s all right for a bachelor like me, However, policemen with family and specially policewomen have a tough time. They come from far off places or reside in the outskirts and seldom get to see their children because of the working hours. Diabetes and hypertension are quite common among policemen. Women are made to stand for long hours during and often cannot go to a washroom as there are none in the vicinity,”

There is the general view that the Government is oblivious to the hygiene factors i.e. salary, fringe benefits, work conditions, paid insurance, vacations etc. The compensation and salary bracket is skewed which breeds dissatisfaction and disengagement among policemen. This directly impacts their motivation levels .

It is believed that this overall frustration and annoyance is manifested in their impolite behaviour with the public which leads to erosion of societal image of the police and alienation.

“Since salary is very less, I cannot meet my family budget and cannot educate my children properly. They won’t give us permanent quarters. It takes a toll on my family, ” said a frustrated policeman.

He adds that when it came to medical insurance, a certain amount was deducted from the salary but claims were often refused.It is this pathetic situation that forced the Salem SP to give policemen some relief.

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