A recent report published by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BRPD) and Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) has found that 90% of police officers work for more than eight hours a day and 73% do not get a weekly off even once a month. That's not all. They are often called into work on their rare holidays for emergency work.
If a police officer in your area doesn't work efficiently or has a bad attitude it might be because of this reason. The police force is highly overworked, underpaid and completely under-staffed.
These terrible working conditions have lead to serious health concerns, widespread discontent and demotivation within the police force, which eventually results in a diminished perception of the police by the general public.
According to Times of India , the research involved extensive field survey including 12,156 police station staff, 1,003 SHOs and 962 supervisory officers, from ranks ranging from constables to IGPs, in 319 districts in 23 states and two Union Territories. All nine police stations types - metropolitan, urban, urban-rural mixed, rural, crime, traffic, women, tribal and others were covered in the survey.
" The field survey conducted among the large samples of SHOs and supervisory offices indicates that nearly 90% of police station staff works for more than eight hours a day. More than 68% of SHOs and over 76% of supervisory officers stated that staff members in police stations were on duty for 11 hours or more per day. 27.7% SHOs and 30.4% supervisory officers reported that their staff worked for more than 14 hours a day," the study said.
The study also shows that the current working hours are not in consonance with Indian labour laws, or international laws, they are also in violation of Article 42 of the Indian Constitution.
Talking about impacts, the study said, "The long hours of duty have had multiple negative impacts on efficient policing. Nearly two-thirds (74%) of respondents among police station staff have reported that the current working hours lead to health problems of different kinds for them. A large majority (more than 76%) of SHOs also felt that the current duty hour arrangement was deleterious to health of staff. Conditions like joint pain due to long hours of standing, stress, sleeplessness, acidity, etc seem to occur early in life of police personnel. "
All of this takes a toll on their moral, motivation and self-esteem. Their overall behaviour with the public is probably a manifestation of their poor working conditions.
More than anything, the conditions within which they work have adverse affects on their quality of work. Weary and tired policemen will not be able to perform their best, whether it is in crime investigation, law and order duties, information gathering or patrolling. Their job performance will be affected and thus our safety will be jeopardised.
The study said introduction of shift system would mean rationalizing the work hour norms for police station staff to more acceptable limits. According to the SHOs, there was a need of 1.68 times strength of the present sanctioned strength for the shift system.
The study suggested that augmentation of police station strength with some 337,500 personnel (50% of the present sanctioned strength) would take the ratio of police station manpower to a little over 45% of the total police strength in the states/Union Territories, and this would help in ensuring efficient policing.
"Shift system of functioning in police stations is absolutely imperative for efficient and people-friendly policing, as also for conducive work-life balance for police personnel. Implementation of shift system in police station work is a functionally achievable objective, as established by our case studies of the 8-hour duty system of Kerala Police," the study said.
The police force in this country is highly under-appreciated, they work non-stop and have no means of releasing frustration other than on the public. Police brutality has become a growing problem, resulting in the public completely losing faith in those entrusted to keep them safe. But one cannot solely blame the cops for this, they are expected to get results and get them fast. They use whatever means necessary - not to say that this should be excused - but what choices are they left with?
The government needs to put in a great deal of effort to increase funding and employment within the force. Perhaps increasing the number of women officers to take some of the burden off the men could be a start.