An analysis of occupational stress amongst South African Police Services detectives working on murder cases: a case study of Inanda Police Station.
Sibisi, Nonhle Tracey.
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Background: Assistance to employees to maintain a work-life balance has been increasingly recognised as a goal for law enforcement agencies around the world, especially during the last decade. The intense and continuous physical and emotional work demands generate stressors in organisations and employees’ lives. While stress is unavoidable, occupational stressors should be limited and support structures should be effective in equipping workers with coping mechanisms. Policing remains a profession with high exposure to incidents that can trigger stress. The purpose of this study was to analyse occupational stress amongst South African Police Service detectives responding to murder cases. Methods: The study adopted a qualitative research approach. Data were collected from eight (n=8) murder detectives in the South African Police Service and 2 employees from the Employee, Health and Wellbeing services. Eight (8) murder detectives were located at Inanda Police Station, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and employee health and well-ness practitioners interviewed. The sample was obtained using purposive sampling. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted and recorded with a voice recorder. The data were analysed through thematic analysis. Findings: The study found that nature of stress among detectives depends on their work tasks such as exposure to traumatic crime scenes and a high workload. The factors that contribute to occupational stress in murder detectives in Inanda were found to be inherent in the nature of their job (high workload), organisation (career development, lack of resources and lack of effective coordination within the SAPS) and community (demographics of the community and lack of cooperation from the community), resulting in such challenges as psychological, cognitive, emotional and behavioural challenges. Most detectives do not consider the available support structures as being effective due to the unavailability of employee, health and well-ness practitioners and lack of time to utilise support services. Implications: Based on the findings, it is recommended that employee health and wellness practitioners should improve their marketing strategies in order for detectives to be aware of their support services. It is also important for employee health and wellness practitioners to understand the daily activities of detectives and formulate programmes that will be effective and accessible to them.