Police constables in Mumbai may soon get eight-hour work days

After receiving a 73-page letter, police commissioner orders committee to figure out how to cut shifts

There isn’t a single person who does not complain about their job or working hours but no matter how bad you think you have it, Mumbai cops have it worse. One constable was so fed up of working close to 16 hours a day that he wrote a 73-page letter to the Commissioner of Police to request that work be distributed more evenly among the force.

Also Read: Mumbai Police on its toes after spate of letters threaten suicide, fratricide

It’s not uncommon to see cops sleeping at the railway platform; after a hard day at work, many are simply too tired to make the long journey home. File pic
It’s not uncommon to see cops sleeping at the railway platform; after a hard day at work, many are simply too tired to make the long journey home. File pic

The letter, written by Constable Ravindra Patil from Deonar police station, prompted the top cop to order that a committee be set up to look into the matter and figure out how to cut work shifts to no more than eight hours a day. The issue of cops being frustrated and overworked has dogged Mumbai Police for a long time. Many officials have died due to various heart and mental ailments related to stress, and just two days ago, mid-day had reported that the force had become wary after a spate of letters from cops threatening suicide or fratricide.

Currently, there are over 55,000 cops in Mumbai posted across various police stations and departments such as the crime branch, special branch, traffic. But it’s at the police station level that cops are burdened the most, argued Patil in the letter he wrote on February 23, to the CP and Desk 2 — which handles the force’s human resources issues.

On March 6, the CP issued an order (mid-day has a copy) for the formation of a committee that will decide whether it is possible to reduce shifts to eight hours. But Patil has done the force a favour and already drawn up a plan to redistribute the workload in the force.

The letter
It spans across 73 pages and took over a month to write. In it, Patil stated that police stations are the most crucial units of the Mumbai police, and that is where the maximum workload is. Although the shift is officially supposed to last 12 hours, a cop at police station level often has to work over 16 hours a day – that’s not counting the time it takes to commute to and from work. The letter explains that if a call comes in even five minutes before the end of the shift, the cop will have to stay back and deal with the problem. These cops get only one day off a week.

Read Story: Rookie cop's suicide threat exposes how cops exploit juniors 

In contrast, the special branch enjoys one and a half days off every week. Patil said there are several cops in that department who barely work for six hours and don’t have much load, while the traffic police also work shorter shifts of eight hours. He added that the side branch and local arms units 1 to 4 also have very less work. He suggested these departments can be roped into help out at police stations. He further stated that biometric chips should be provided to each of the personnel so the force can keep tabs on how many hours the cops are logging in.

Patil refused to comment on the matter, but another constable said, “Patil’s suggestion will be difficult to implement. Side branch does the work of gathering intelligence at local level, while the LA does a lot of work like bandobast, security, jail procedures. Such reserve force is necessary for a city like Mumbai. Unless more cops are recruited, reducing the duty to eight hours is not possible. This plan will remain on paper.”

Official speak
DCP (crime) Dhananjay Kulkarni told mid-day, “There is actually lot of pressure on the Mumbai police. By the CP’s order, a committee will be formed and they will give suggestions for an 8-hour working format. Currently, the process of forming the committee is underway.”

The committee
Seven teams comprising experienced cops – one PSI and ASI and three constables — will be picked up from each of the five regions and the side branch and LA. The names of these cops are to be submitted to Desk 2 in a week. The committee will discuss the facts and figures and send a proposal to the government.

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