Mumbai, January 17: In a historic decision, the Mumbai police have switched over to a compact eight-hour duty schedule for the lower echelons from Wednesday, police commission Datta Padsalgikar announced on Wednesday. This major change took place first time in 154-years of Mumbai police history.Also Read - BMC's Latest Sero-Survey Report Finds Over 86% of Mumbai's Population Have COVID-19 Antibodies

The decision was taken after Mumbai Police officials carried out a trial at the Deonar Police Station last year, followed by other police stations across the city and suburbs. Also Read - Ganapati Bappa In IPS Avatar: Mumbai Police Portrays Lord Ganesha As Police Officer, Call Him 'India's Premier Security'

“After the Deonar experiment was successful, we have shifted to the eight-hour duty schedule for the constabulary and assistant sub-inspector levels. Gradually, it will go up to officer ranks,” Padsalgikar told media persons. Also Read - Good News: Ahead of Possible COVID Third Wave, BMC’s Sero-survey Finds 70-80% Population Have Antibodies

However, Mumbai police commissioner assured that the new duty hours would not, in any manner, compromise on the duties and services of the police to the public.

In Mumbai there are 94 police stations, plus several Traffic Branch, out of this around 75 per cent of the force will be covered under the new duty schedule, Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations Deepak Deoraj) said.

“Depending on the police station strength versus the local population, we hope to implement it 100 per cent within a month or so,” Deoraj said to IANS.

Mumbai police was formed in 1661, with a tiny force of 500 by the then Portuguese rulers of the seven islands comprising Mumbai. But now the Mumbai police has a staff strength of nearly 50,000 for the 18 million residents.

Besides the regular round-the-Clock force, it also has one of the biggest traffic police forces in the state with more than a 100 posts for the estimated 4.2 million vehicles on Mumbai roads.

In last few years, the city’s main protection force has been rocked by a series of on-duty deaths, mental and physical illnesses owing to long and uncertain duty hours, often stretching to more than 16 hours.

During emergencies or contingencies, there were instances when the police personnel, both men and women, remained in the field for even 75 hours, hitting their morale, playing havoc with health and rocking family ties.

Mumbai police commissioner, who masterminded the ‘Mission 8 Hours’ initiative, and Deoraj assured that now the police personnel can spend more time with their families and experience less stress which would improve the overall health of the force.

The modern police force started in December 1864 when a Briton, Sir Frank Souter, was appointed the first Police Commissioner of (then) Bombay, under the Bombay Presidency, while the last one was Police Commissioner A.E. Caffin till August 15, 1947.

On Independence Day, J.S. Bharucha became the first Indian to be appointed Commissioner of Bombay police — considered among the finest in the world despite various constraints.

(With input from agencies)