Abuse, workload leading to mental health issues in force: Kerala police association

The resolution assumes significance as the issue of suicides among police officers came up for heated debate at a recent session of the ongoing Assembly.
Representative image
Representative image

KOCHI: Adding fuel to the fire over the ongoing discussion on stress in the force, the Kerala Police Officers Association (KPOA) has for the first time pointed fingers at the exploitation of superior-subordinate relationships, lack of rest and leisure time, and intense workloads, which it said is leading to growing mental health issues and suicidal tendencies among officers.

Representative image
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Citing severe internal pressures, a resolution moved at the association’s Ernakulam rural district conference in Aluva, on Wednesday, said many officers were struggling to cope with the high-pressure work environment. “Restless and poorly timed work, exploitation of superior-subordinate relationships, and lack of work experience are leading to personal and family problems and even depression,” it said.

The resolution assumes significance as the issue of suicides among police officers came up for heated debate at a recent session of the ongoing Assembly.

At a time when some senior officers are not even ready to hear their subordinates out, Ernakulam Rural police chief Vaibhav Saxena has set an example by leading all officers unitedly, the resolution said. However, the lack of cross-hierarchical communication and dialogue is making the situation worse, it alleged.

It sought the appointment of an independent commission to inquire into officer suicides and to study the reasons of increasing numbers opting for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). Of the 148 individuals who recently took VRS, 91 were over 50 years old, with the majority being sub-inspectors (SIs) and assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs), highlighting the severe work-related stress within the force.

Pointing to the importance of women officers, the resolution said that they are indispensable for several law and order duties, including the Janamaithri programme, Pink Police, women’s help desk, women’s safety programmes, age-friendly policing, and the investigation of crimes against women and children. However, the current strength is insufficient to carry out these duties effectively. To address this, the strength of women officers should be increased to 15%, the resolution added.

VIP control room

It also demanded the deputation of a special unit at Kochi International Airport for duties related to VVIP and VIP visits. For this purpose, a VIP control room should be set up at the airport, to be manned by Kerala Armed Police (KAP) personnel, the resolution said.

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