Sri Lanka Police 151st Anniversary : Making life peaceful, sans crime and violence | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka Police 151st Anniversary : Making life peaceful, sans crime and violence

September 3 is the historic day on which the Police was formally established in the isle of Sri Lanka. When considering world history, the Sri Lanka Police could be considered as one of the foremost to be set up. Sir Robert Peel, known as the Father of Modern Policing, established the Metropolitan Police in England in 1829, which is deemed the first formally established Police in the world. Thirty seven years later, the Sri Lanka Police was established in 1866, governed by Ordinance No. 16 of 1865, and today, marks its 151st Anniversary.

A systematically evolving policing method can be observed in every developed society. The chronicles of the Mahawamsa also records that during the reign of King Pandukabhaya (437 - 367 B.C.), there had been a position named, ‘Nagara Guththika’, which resembled the duty of police even under the monarchical system of ancient Lanka. Further, the establishment of a rural administrative system and building the city of Anuradhapura as the administrative centre had begun during the same period. Later on, various kings took measures to maintain order among the citizens and history records that King Udaya II (887 - 898 A.D.) had established a proper Gamsabha system.

The Police service was informally established in Sri Lanka by the British, as a means of providing security through patrolling, for ensuring the safety of warehouses in the Colombo harbour in 1795. Later on, the need for a formal Police service arose, both, due to the inadequacy of the prevailing Police Vidhane system to prevent various picaresque acts and due to appeals made by public officers highlighting the importance of a proper Police service.

Consequently, the Sri Lanka Police Service was informally established around 1832, subsequent to the division of the Colombo area into 15 police zones and the attachment of 10 Police Sergeants, 5 Police Constables and 150 peons. Thereafter, police stations had been established in other areas such as, Galle, Negombo and Kandy. As the first Sri Lankan Superintendent of Police, Lokubanda Dunuwila, who was holding office as Uva Disawe at the time, was appointed Superintendent of Police in Kandy. After the official establishment of the Police Service as per Ordinance No. 16 of 1865, G. W. R. Campbell, the Chief Superintendent of Police, was appointed as the first Inspector General of Police. The appointment of Sir Richard Aluwihare as the first Sri Lankan Inspector General of Police in 1947, is a turning point in the history of Lankan Police. He rendered an immense service towards the endurance of the Police and the welfare of Police Officers.

The first incident of sacrificing a life by a police officer while on duty, maintaining law and order, occurred at Uthuwankanda, Mawanella on Monday, March 21, 1864. While conducting an operation to arrest a suspect named, Deekirikevage Saradiel, police officer, Sabhan was shot by another suspect, Mammale Marikkar and faced death in a brave manner.

Through the establishment of an organized Police Service, in accordance with the Police Ordinance No. 16 of 1865, it is evident that the commencement of maintaining the register of Police war heroes had helped to create an organized policing method. It can be mentioned with pride that Sri Lanka Police is a leading institution for protecting Law and Order among the oldest public institutions in the country. With profound respect, we commemorate the demise of 3,117 police officers, who had valiantly sacrificed their lives in ensuring the safety of the lives and property of the public and territorial integrity of the country.

An incident that took place in 1915 marked the commencement of police riot control duties to protect lives and property of the people of the country. It has been recorded that Martial Law had been first imposed in the Western and Sabaragamuwa Provinces by the government and that power had been delegated to the police to provide security.

It must be acknowledged that the Police performed their duty with minimum facilities and strength, during many violent situations that erupted before the period (1948-1971) of the forming of the Republic of Sri Lanka. During this time, the first Woman Police Constable was killed and it is worth commemorating the demise of 15 female officers, who sacrificed their lives during the war against terrorism. In addition, Sri Lanka Police fought at the risk of their lives together with the tri forces for the territorial integrity of the motherland during the 30 year war with terrorists.

The Sri Lankan Police which serves day and night, on 365 days of the year, consists about 87,000 officers and 484 police stations. Expeditious steps are being taken to increase this organizational structure to 600 functional police stations. Special attention has been given by the government under the leadership of the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development and the Inspector General of Police, in this regard.

Sri Lanka Police, which faced significant challenges during the past 50 years, has achieved innumerable victories, especially, during the time of war and in the post-war period. Also, considerable achievement has been made in combating and preventing the spread of various narcotics within the country. The number of fatal accidents and serious damage to property have been relatively minimized by reducing road accidents, despite the increase of vehicles and population growth.

Apart from the above, it is one of the responsibilities of the police to contribute to the duties performed by other public institutes. Accordingly, Sri Lanka Police constantly plays a major role in helping to preserve the environment, coast conservation, prevention of unauthorized mining and sand mining, reclamation of paddy and marsh lands, illicit liquor, etc., and takes action to produce the accused before courts.

New targets have been set for achieving the development of public welfare by:

* Targeting to increase the current trend of solving property crimes from 70%

to 75%

* Adopting new technology for analyzing circumstantial evidence

* Getting fingerprint comparison results within a short period of time using a fully automated computer program, designed to analyze criminal reports.

* Arrangements have been made to reduce the number of fatal accidents and property damage by 10% by paying more attention to preventing road accidents, especially, in sparsely populated areas.

* Measures are also taken to conduct traffic management duties, by displaying constant vigilance by the side of main roads and byroads.

* Priority lanes to promote public transport are expected to be introduced to reduce road traffic and accidents.

In accordance with President Maithripala Sirisena’s concept of creating a country free of narcotics, it is envisaged to:

* Establish a Special Police Division and continuously carry out operations for the prevention of narcotics by coordinating with other relevant government institutions.

* Direct those addicted towards rehabilitation, and

* Eradicate the use of tobacco products.

The program of establishing mobile police stations named ‘Gamata Policiya’ had been implemented covering a period of one month, enabling the public to receive services from the police easily.

Steps have been taken to provide speedy solutions to problems faced by police officers, especially, to expedite the process for taking disciplinary measures against officers under interdiction or temporary suspension due to various legal issues.

A Police University will be established for higher education on Police Science and Criminal Justice. It would help to bring about police officers equipped with knowledge, which would in turn contribute towards elevating the quality of law-abiding citizens. In commemoration of the 151st Police Day, the official ceremony will be held under the leadership of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, at the Police Field Force Headquarters, Bambalapitiya, on September 7 at 2.30 p.m..

The ceremonial parade consists of police parachute displays, police band performance, tattoo drill and drill squad. A magnificent display will be given by the Kennels Division and the Mounted Division that will add colour to the event. Measures have been taken to facilitate the public to participate in this ceremony and to watch the drills. I take pride in mentioning on this 151st Police Day that the Sri Lanka Police with its glorious past, productive present and a bright future will continuously make its journey par excellence while making it possible for every Sri Lankan to live in a peaceful and prosperous society without fear of crime and violence.

The writer is Police Media Spokesman an Attorney-at-Law and a Superintendent of Police. He is also the Director in charge of the Discipline and Conduct Division, Police Public Relations Division, and the Police Media Division.