Sri Lanka Police celebrates its 157th anniversary today

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Sri Lanka Police celebrates its 157th anniversary today (September 03, 2023).

A series of religious ceremonies and social activities have been organized in view of the anniversary and to enhance public relations and coordination island-wide.

A Buddhist Dhamma Sermon took place last night (September 02), while an almsgiving programme took place this morning (September 03) at the conference hall of the DIG’s Office in Colombo.

Meanwhile, the Hindu religious ceremony was held at 8:30 AM this morning at the New Kathiresan Kovil in Bambalapitiya and the Holy Mass was held at 09:30 AM in the St. James Catholic Church in Modara.

The Islamic religious ceremony had also taken place at the Dewatagaha Mosque in Colombo 07, according to Sri Lanka Police.

Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security Viyani Gunathilaka, SDIG in charge of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon and several other senior DIGs and police officers were present on these occasions.

History of Sri Lanka Police

The concept of policing in Sri Lanka started during Dutch rule in the year 1659.

In the year 1659 the Colombo Municipal Council adopted a resolution to appoint paid guards to protect the city by night.

Accordingly, four fat and slow soldiers were appointed to patrol the city by night, hence they could be considered as the fore-runners of the police in the country.

It was the Dutch who established the earliest police stations.

Three Police Stations were initially opened at following locations:

  1. The northern entrance to the Fort
  2. The cause-way connecting Fort and Pettah
  3. Kayman’s Gate in the Pettah

In addition to these the “Maduwa” or the office of Disawa of Colombo, who was a Dutch official at Hulftsdorp, also served as a Police Station for these suburbs.

The British Period

The Dutch surrendered to the British on February 16, 1796. After the occupation of the City by the British, law and order were, for some time, maintained by the Military.

In 1797 the office of Fiscal, which had been abolished, was re-created. Governor Fredric North, having found that the Fiscal was over-burdened with the additional duty of supervising the police, obtained the concurrence of the Chief Justice and entrusted the Magistrates and Police Judges with the task of supervising the Police.

1805 police functions came to be clearly defined, apart from matters connected with the safety, comfort and convenience of the people, police functions also came to be connected with prevention and detection of crime and maintenance of law and order.

The rank of police constable was created and it came to be associated with all types of police work.

Act No. 14 of 1806 the City of Colombo was divided into 15 divisions and Police Constables were appointed to supervise the divisions.

The National Police

The Governor, who was looking for a dynamic person to reorganize the police in the island, turned to India to obtain the services of a capable officer.

The Governor of Bombay recommended Mr. G. W. R. Campbell, who was in charge of the “Rathnagiri rangers” of the Bombay Police, to shoulder this onerous responsibility.

Mr. Campbell was selected by the Governor and he assumed duties as the Chief Superintendent of Police on September 03, 1866.

In 1867, by an amendment to the Police Ordinance No. 16 of 1865, the designation of the Head of the Police Force was changed from Chief Superintendent to Inspector-General of Police.

Therefore, September 03, 1866 can be considered as the beginning of the country’s present Police Service.

Mr. Campbell is credited with shaping the Police Force into an efficient organization and giving it a distinct identity.

He brought the whole island under his purview and the police became a national rather than a local Force

First Superintendent of Police & his Staff

Mr. Thomas Oswin, Secretary to the Chief Justice, was appointed the first Superintendent of Police of Colombo, C.M. Schubert was appointed as the Chief Constable, 5 Dutch Constables, 10 Police Sergeants and 150 Peons were also appointed. Mr. Lokubanda Dunuwila, who was the Disawa of Uva, was appointed as the Superintendent of Police for Kandy.

He goes into history as the very first Sri Lankan to be a Superintendent of Police. Mr. Colepeper was entrusted with the task of re-organizing the Colombo Police.

He divided the Force into three classes of officers – the Inspectors, the Sergeants and the Constables. The new rank of Peon was abolished.

In 1847 the ranks of Assistant Superintendent of Police and Sub Inspector of Police were created.

Inspector De La Harpe was promoted as the first Assistant Superintendent of Police.

First Sri Lankan Inspector General

On June 01, 1947 Sir Richard Aluvihare, was the first Sri Lankan to hold the office of Inspector General, assumed duties.

The Police Department, which was under the Home Ministry, was brought under the purview of the Defense Ministry Sir Richard was faced with the unenviable responsibility of transforming the Police Force from its colonial outlook to a National Police with the gaining of independence 1948.

To this end he introduced a large number of innovative measures, which embraced the welfare of the men, investigation, prevention and detection of crime, the women police, crime prevention societies, rural volunteers, police kennels, public relations, new methods of training and improvement of conditions of service.

He transformed the Police Force into a Police Service.

Its role was narrowly defined and restricted to the maintenance of law and order and prevention and detection of crime.