KOCHI: The need for urgent government intervention to address the tremendous occupational pressure among police personnel has been debated for long. But little has been done to address the malaise. The suicide of a Grade ASI at Thadiyattaparambu police station, near Vazhakulam in Perumbavoor, on Wednesday has brought to the fore the pitiable work environment of cops which causes stress and fatigue, taking a toll on their mental health.
Earlier, former Ernakulam Central circle inspector VS Navas going missing had created a ruckus and put the spotlight on the plight of cops. An average of 20 policemen end their lives every year in Kerala, allegedly owing to mounting work pressure, according to figures.
The department has been analysing the rising number of suicides and designing various programmes for the past year to tackle the issue. It had introduced a mentoring system to guide and help police personnel deal with stress related to job and family issues. However, the recent incidents indicate that these endeavours have not been fruitful.
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Dr Arun Nair, a noted psychiatrist based in Thiruvananthapuram, pointed out various reasons. “Unlike other departments, long working hours, lack of a structured stress-management training and family issues are the main reasons for suicide among cops,” he said.
Some persons take alcohol or other drugs to overcome pressure. However, this leads to over intake of intoxicants thereby leading to depression. Depression causes a suicidal tendency,” he added. According to officials, workload due to lack of enough manpower puts police personnel under immense pressure.
“Police officers are carrying out their duty under tremendous pressure and nobody knows it well. Cops continue to be deployed in police stations as per the staff pattern of 1986,” said Kerala Police Officers Association president C R Biju. Police stations in the state are classified into heavy, medium and light according to the number of crimes and other circumstances.
A study conducted by Kerala Police Association cited that 5,592 police personnel were attached to 97 police stations coming under heavy category and these stations required 4,108 more personnel.
In police stations under medium category, 3,721 police personnel were attached and here also there was a deficiency of 2,172 personnel. The 287 stations under light category had 1,0796 staffs, but here also 3,267 additional cops were needed.