The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu on Thursday, ordered the immediate reversal of the shift duty structure of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
The shift structure is a 12-hour, 2-shifts system, but has now been changed to the traditional 8-hours, 3-shifts duty standard.
IGP Adamu gave the order while declaring open the conference of heads of Police Medical Facilities at the Force Headquarters in Abuja today.
According to the IGP, this new directive is in line with arguments raised in some quarters that the resonating incidents of misuse of firearms and other extra-judicial actions by police personnel often result directly from work-related stresses and emotional conditions which disorient their rationality.
He said, “This initiative is not only thoughtful of the Force Medical Officer and her team, but it is also significant in several ways.
“Firstly, it serves as a forum for stock-taking in relation to the performance of the Nigeria Police Medical Services (NPMS) which was established in 1975 with a mandate of providing healthcare services to serving members and retirees of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), their families, detainees in Police custody, and members of the public, especially during medical emergencies.
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“Secondly, it provides an avenue for Medical Officers in the Police to interact, engage in professional peer review and draw on practice experiences that could aid them in enhancing their knowledge and service delivery.
“Most importantly, this Conference will assist the Police leadership in identifying gaps within the operations of the Medical Services and in proposing pathways towards strengthening the capacity of the Section as they project into the future.
“Within this context, I wish to reiterate that the policing and internal security management strategy under the current police leadership is woven around the principles of community policing.
“The import of this is that the Police must evolve a new orientation in terms of the nature of their interaction and content of services they render to the public in all spheres of their professional engagements.
“These, ladies and gentlemen, is the only way to build trust between the Nigeria Police and the citizens and it is the most veritable pathway towards returning the Police to the community they serve.
“Consequently, we must evolve new strategic approaches in which the Police Medical Services will play a critical role. Hence, beyond the traditional obligations of meeting the medical needs of serving and retired police personnel, the Police Medical Services must start viewing its roles from the strategic policing lens which requires of them the responsibility of engaging in medical outreaches to targeted communities, educational institutions, youths, and children population, and enhancing their capacity to mobilise to medically challenged communities with a view to rendering professional medical services.
“The NPMS envisioned for the Nigeria Police within this context, is one that can appreciate and respond in the most professional manner to modern threats to national security, particularly, as they relate to bioterrorism and management of communicable diseases.
“The Police Medical Services must review and strengthen its institutional and personnel capacity towards intervening in national emergencies occasioned by acts of crime and terrorism and enhance its ability in the management of defilement, rape, and other gender-based crimes.
“In essence, the NPMS must be engaged, henceforth, as the socio-medical component of policing and as a strategic vehicle that will be utilised by the current police leadership to achieve two fundamental objectives. First to propel the attainment of our community policing vision.
“Second, to aid in enhancing the emotional, psychological, physical and medical well-being of all police personnel with a view to keeping them fit and preparing them for optimal law enforcement service delivery.
“Policing being a highly demanding job physically, mentally and psychologically, it is pertinent to note that efficiency in the discharge of Police duties requires a good state of physical, mental and psychological wellbeing.
“Indeed, arguments have been raised that the resonating incidents of misuse of firearms and other extra-judicial actions by police personnel often result directly from work-related stresses and emotional conditions which disorient their rationality.
“In consideration of this, I have ordered that with immediate effect, the shift duty structure of the Nigeria Police which is currently a 12-hour, 2-shifts system should be reverted to the traditional 8- hours, 3-shifts shift standard.
“This directive is specifically informed by the need to address a major, age-long occupational stress or which long hours of duty engenders among personnel in the Nigeria Police Force and which occasions depression and abuse of power and other unprofessional conducts.
“For the purpose of clarity, henceforth, no police personnel should be made to perform any duty exceeding 8-hours within a space of 24 hours unless there is a local or national emergency.
“All of these, if not medically managed, could engender unprofessional reactions with fatal consequences to the affected police personnel and members of the public. Additionally, the NPMS must start emplacing strategies and techniques including cognitive therapy and emotional intelligence models that will strengthen the stress management capacity and operational resilience of all personnel. I challenge you to engage these issues as part of your agenda for this Conference.
“The Nigeria Police take pride in the fact that the NPMS has some of the finest and most experienced Medical Officers and it has expanded Page 5 of 5 significantly over the years from just one healthcare facility in 1975 to 144 in 2019 across the country.
“I am conscious of the peculiar challenges associated with the increase and spread of our healthcare facilities which include the inadequate number and mix of healthcare professionals, and insufficient infrastructure and equipment amongst others.
“Let me remind you that the current Police Management, will ensure that these challenges, as well as career and welfare concerns of personnel in the NPMS, are addressed on a sustainable basis.
“I, however, charge you to continuously discharge your professional duties with a high sense of commitment and responsibility to meet the ever-growing health needs of our personnel.
“It is against this background that I feel privileged to declare this Conference open and to launch the Health Awareness Strategy for the Nigeria Police Force under the theme ‘Stay healthy to secure the nation’.
“I am expectant that at the end of this conference, there will be a communiqué to facilitate actions on anticipated recommendations”.