Kochi City police to implement new leave policy for better work-life balance among personnel

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Kochi: Amid reports of rising incidents of stress-induced suicides among police personnel, the Kochi City police have implemented a model the rest of the force can emulate. City Police Commissioner S Syamsundar, IPS, has instructed that officers within the city limits should be granted leave on special days in their life, in a bid to ensure better work-life balance for the overburdened cops.

The IPS officer issued a circular in this regard in February, weeks after he took charge as the Kochi district police chief, and he reiterated the instruction during a meeting of the police officers association recently. The move received much appreciation as a video of his speech went viral.

“It’s a known fact that the officers in the city are overburdened with their duty. Most of the time they are not able to avail even the casual leaves they are entitled to. So I issued a directive stating that the officers should be allowed to take leave on their special days such as their and their immediate family members’ birthdays and their wedding anniversary. The move is aimed at helping them find better work-life balance and thus ensuring efficiency at work,” Syamsundar told Onmanorama. The instruction benefits the police officers posted at the 27 stations and two traffic units in the city limits.

As many as 82 police officers had ended their lives in the past five-and-a-half years. While seven of them took the extreme step due to work pressure, 20 others succumbed to depression. The motives for the remaining deaths are not known.
The atrocities suffered by policemen in Kerala were discussed in the Kerala Assembly recently when Congress MLA P C Vishnunath raised the issue as an adjournment motion. He called it “state-sponsored atrocity”, and said that 88 policemen had committed suicide in the past seven years of Pinarayi rule.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is also the home minister, said the suicides were mostly the result of family and financial troubles, and also health issues. “Work-related mental stress has also caused death in some cases,” the chief minister said.

Vishnunath pointed out that no policeman in Kerala can ever dream of eight-hour duty, one of the recommendations of the M K Joseph committee in 1991. In response, the chief minister said given the circumstances, it is difficult to implement the eight-hour duty time for cops. He said the government has implemented eight-hour duty time in 52 police stations and the number will be increased.

Read Onmanorama series Cop’ing with stress on suicides among Kerala police here:
Part 1: How many more lives to ease police’s workload?
Part 2: The VRS escape route: Retired hurt by senior cops
Part 3: From POCSO cases to tea duty, no gender bias in workload for Kerala’s women cops
Part 4: Increasing staff strength the only way to uplift Kerala police force



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