Do stressed-out police in rural towns have access to counselling, asks KZN violence monitor

2011-12-21 00:00

THE young constable who killed his wife and then turned the gun on himself in Port Shepstone yesterday is the latest in a long line of stressed-out police officers who snapped.

Responding to questions about the stress that many police officers are under, which may have contributed to yesterday’s tragedy, provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said there were enough programmes to help them deal with stressful and traumatic situations.

Before applicants were admitted to the service they underwent psychometric testing; those who failed were not recruited.

Whenever officers encountered traumatic incidents they would go for a debriefing, which involved sessions with psychologists and social workers; then they were monitored to ensure they had dealt with the trauma.

One of the programmes, “Money Wise” educates officers about how to handle their finances and handle financial stress.

Naicker said officers who were accused of domestic violence were also attended by social workers and their families were counselled.

“Our chaplains give troubled members spiritual guidance. We also provide counselling for HIV- positive members, so there’s a lot of support for members who need help,” said Naicker.

He could not provide statistics of similar incidents for this year.

KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said the question was whether such programmes were available in small policing areas.

“I know of many officers who have stress because they have not been recognised after many years in the police service and the concern is the police centres in small towns and the outlying areas.

“Do they have access to these programmes and are there measures in place to detect the early warning signs?

“Some of these crimes are not committed out of the blue.

“There’s history of violence,” said De Haas.

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