The main causes of stress – both operational and, mainly, administrative – and their impact on Ministry of Interior employees are directly related to the state of the system.
Unfortunately, for the Ministry of Interior, the decade ends as it began – confirming the findings that it is a toxic, dehumanized system based on military orders, centralization, strict hierarchy, unquestioning discipline and the absence of understanding of the value of the individual.
The “toxicity” of the system is due to a “bouquet” of stressors. “The ‘ranking’ of stressors is headed by widespread injustice, devaluation of human life and health, authoritarian and unprofessional management, organizational disorder, financial deficit and material insecurity.
Largely unsurprisingly, critical and traumatic events in professional activity significantly outnumber stressors related to governance, relationships, organization and provision.
There are two levels of stress in the Ministry of the Interior among its employees – ordinary and extreme, caused respectively by sources of chronic (low pay, poor facilities, overwork, need to use personal resources to finance work expenses, lack of teamwork, low public image, etc.) and acute (death or suffering of a colleague, aggression and abuse of employees, fatal incidents with children and young people, disciplinary punishments and scandals at work, etc.) stress.
There is an absence of policies to prevent and deal with stress. As with most problems in the Ministry of Interior, stress is dealt with as each person sees and, as a rule, alone. Preventive psychological help is missing.
All attempts to reform the department in the past decades (usually carried out “in fragments”, without a clear vision of the expected outcome, poorly planned) have ended disastrously.
The department is ‘mined’ by significant injustices, mainly in relation to employees, which makes it difficult to fulfil its main function – to be a guarantor of justice in public relations.
Injustice in the treatment of employees coexists with material scarcity, poor working conditions, irregular working hours, systematic overwork. For this reason, the institution is not prestigious, does not have the support of society and is not attractive as an employer.
The objectives of the Ministry of the Interior as an institution are axiomatic and, in this sense, clear – ensuring compliance with the law, preventing and counteracting crime, protecting the lives, rights and property of citizens and businesses. The objectives of the Ministry of the Interior as an organisation are fading and becoming blurred. It is not clear where it is starting from, where it is going and how the MIA contributes to the well-being of its employees as people belonging to an organisation. The goals for 2020 are the same as those of the previous three, but in other words
Another fact that does not need further proof, but inevitably has an impact on the level of occupational stress, is that the Ministry of the Interior is currently unable to offer the Bulgarian society a satisfactory degree of personal security and quality of administrative activity.
Public pressure on the MoI to democratise, reform and open up to citizens and communities is waning. Except in the 1990s, when it was part of the general impulse and need to reform institutions and legislation, the MoI has not been subjected to sustained, strong, systematic and uncompromising pressure to change. This happened episodically, initiated by individual leaderships or provoked by various projects, mainly between 2000 and 2010. In this way, the Ministry of Interior lags behind most institutions in Bulgaria.
The reform of the Ministry of Interior cannot be provoked from the outside because, as a system, the ministry is resistant to any challenges and is alien to interactions. Nor can change come as a result of an internal impulse because the institution “melts down” dissenters and discards transformational visionaries and leaders.
The problems in the Ministry of Interior which have to be solved a decent work to be guaranteed can be structured in three areas, each of which causes professional stress, risks the lives and health of employees, and causes citizen dissatisfaction with service delivery:
1) Lack of long-term planning and vision for sustainable change in the Ministry of Interior in the context of the new security environment and decent work.
At the level of the state government, there is no long-term vision of how to change and in what direction the Ministry of Interior should develop. Technological developments are not taken into account, leading to changes in the future of security for which the MoI is not prepared. There is a reputational crisis which is not only not being managed, but no measures are being envisaged to tackle it. There are many successful models for reforming public order and internal security systems that are not being properly adapted to the Bulgarian context and are being introduced in a way that hinders rather than facilitates the functioning of the Ministry of the Interior.
2) Ineffective interaction and communication between the MoI and citizens
The general view is that there are some good practices, but the communication between citizens and the MoI and, as a consequence, the image of the institution are not at a good level. This is due to the unpreparedness of the MoI structures and civil society (both individual citizens and activists, as well as organized forms – associations, foundations, etc.) to work together in setting goals and developing strategies to achieve a higher quality of security service, which is the result of missing policies and vision for such interaction and cooperation. In parallel, there is a passive attitude of citizens towards various dimensions of their security and a lack of understanding in society of the need to build a shared security culture.
There is a lack of a comprehensive communication strategy of the MoI institution targeting society as a whole and various specific stakeholder groups. A consequence is the one-sided work of the Press and Public Relations Directorate, which mainly acts as the Ministry’s press centre and does not carry out the task of communicating the role, achievements and problems of the whole system.
3) The Ministry of the Interior is not effectively managed and does not provide adequate public services related to the provision of internal security and public order
Concrete problems are identified with the organisational model of the Ministry of Interior, which includes multiple structures with heterogeneous functions and the presence of multiple vertical structural units, which hinders the centralised management and decentralised provision of public services related to the provision of internal security (crime prevention) and public order;
The imbalance in career development and “legal uncertainty” is partially regulated, but not fully, under the legislated legal regimes of the three groups of employees in the Ministry of the Interior: civil servants under the Law on the Ministry of the Interior, civil servants under the Law on Civil Servants, and persons working under the Labour Code and the Law on the Ministry of the Interior;
The system of training employees for the needs of the Ministry of Interior needs to be improved and adapted to the modern challenges and changed security environment;
There is a lack of policies for the workers’ income as well lack of measures for decent work and working conditions.
There is a significant underprovision of uniforms and equipment for officers, as well as low pay compared to their counterparts from EU Member States. The insecurity demotivates a large number of Ministry of Interior employees, who periodically express their problems in this area through protests organised by the Ministry of Interior’s trade unions.
Challenges to the delivery of a quality security service are linked both to the territorial specificities of localities and to the demographic and socio-economic profile of the population. It is for this reason that it is necessary to change the overall approach to planning public order and internal security policy and its orientation towards the specific needs of Bulgarian citizens.