‘Police personnel must take a day off every week’
Police personnel have taken on all kinds of new work, the enforcement of rules to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic being only one of them. Needless to say, like most frontline workers, they are expected to put in hours beyond their call of duty. As part of the welfare measures for the overworked policemen, the State police chief has instructed senior officers in-charge to ensure that policemen get their weekly off.
In a memo issued on Thursday to the SPs, range IGPs, Commissionerates and senior officers at the State headquarters, DG&IGP Praveen Sood has said that one of the requirements for ensuring good physical and professional health of policemen is to provide a weekly off.
“It has been time and again reiterated that mandatory weekly off , spread over all the days of the week by rotation, should be provided to all policemen, except in emergency situation like major bandobast, elections and natural calamities,” Mr. Sood said in the memo.
For the week off which could not be provided due to the above circumstances, the in-charge officer should compensate with allowance or with an alternate day off, he has said.
Mr. Sood further said that officers in-charge should enforce the guidelines scrupulously. The memo was issued after Mr. Sood realised that constables, who represent a major percentage of the force, are denied a weekly off and forced to work for long hours. Though there are standing orders on weekly offs, senior officials ignore them and force the constables to work citing different reasons.
“Though there are clear cut directions on a weekly off, they are only on paper. We are forced to work without an off and often come under the scanner of our seniors for insubordination and questioning the authority,” a constable alleged.
But another constable said, “It is not so bad as many seniors are compassionate and realise the importance of a weekly off, but they too are helpless as the shortage of staff is the main reason.”
This is not the first time that a memo on implementation of weekly off was issued. Earlier, when N.S. Megharikh was the city police commissioner, he had issued memos to all the DCPs making it mandatory for policemen up to the rank of PSI to be granted a weekly off. He had also stated that the station in-charge should compensate one day’s payment allowance or offer an alternative day off for those who are denied weekly off on account of emergency situations.
Former commissioner Bhaskar Rao too had made it mandatory for 30% of the total workforce in the city to take one weekly off at the peak of lockdown enforcement during the COVID-19 outbreak.
A research conducted by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) a few years ago revealed that 90% of police officers work long hours and 73% of them do not avail an off even once a month. The BPRD concluded that denying a weekly off to policemen not only affects their behavioural pattern, but also takes a toll on their health.
“Providing a weekly off for policemen will also help the department in the way of getting better output. The police personnel who get a chance to relax once in a week and spend quality time with their family tend to come back afresh, which improves their performance at work,” said M.A. Saleem, Additional Director General of Police (Administration).