Serving the Nation with Dedication | Daily News
Today is 156th Police Day:

Serving the Nation with Dedication

Sri Lanka, known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, which has been free from British rule for seventy-four years, is now facing a severe economic crisis. ‘Struggle’ is not a new word introduced to the world by Sri Lanka.

As we all know in general, even if the Government is changed by an election, in some cases there are agitations for the rulers to resign in democratic regimes. Such public struggles have arisen in Asian and European countries and not only in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the Police should understand the political awakening of Sri Lankans and act to protect people’s rights. Hence, the struggle should be done under the Rule of Law. The public should never take the law into their own hands. Both the rulers and the public have a responsibility there. The Rule of Law is important in taking a country towards development. Here, the Police play an important role in law enforcement. Therefore, the public should not engage in confrontations with Police Officers and attack them.

There are many factors that explain that the Industrial Revolution caused by the industries born with textiles, mines, iron, including the first steam engine produced by the Scotsman James Watt in 1776 BC, led to the birth of the Police Service. At that time, industrialists employed workers for low wages and workers organised many protests for their rights.

European countries used the military to quell frequent social unrest and did so for civilian rule in the same way. In order to maintain Law and Order, a Police Service was started in France in 1829, but because it was a military model and a Police Force formed based on political will, there was no public favour from the French Police. The Father of Modern Police Service (Robert Peel) who understood this very well, decided that the military should not be involved in any way for civil administration and law enforcement and he believed that public fear of Police Officers could be removed by deploying unarmed Police Officers. In addition, to that of course, among the recommendations he made was that no official title other than the rank of Sergeant in the British Army should be used for positions in the Metropolitan Police Service.

Sri Lanka, which was once a British colonial state, was subjected to many persecutions by the British. At that time, the local people expressed their protest to the Government due to the theft of the local people’s money through various tax methods, illegal taking of pearls, ivory, precious stones from the country, destruction of forests and natural resources. Thus, some agitations and people’s uprisings were brutally suppressed at that time. Ensuring the safety of the natives was not so important to the Police Force that emerged during the Colonial period. The Sri Lanka Police, which has evolved for 156 years from 1865 to 2022, is governed by the Police Ordinance No. 16 of 1865. In 1976, the Non-Aligned Nations Conference was held in Sri Lanka and many world leaders and representatives participated in it. At that time, although LTTE terrorism was on the rise in the Northern Province, the Sri Lankan Police Force that was able to ensuring the security of the State Leaders and managing the traffic well. Also, 700 unarmed Police Officers who worked in the Batticaloa, Ampara and Kalmunai Districts were killed at the same time in 1990 due to the LTTE terrorism. In fact, it is the most serious killing of massive amount of officers in the history of the Sri Lanka Police.

The London Police Force Act was drafted by Robert Peel to replace the informal Police organisation that existed within the City of London and to improve efficiency in the modern world. It was a great revolution that was done to reorganise the Police. Sir Robert Peel developed the Metropolitan Police and the Ministry of Public Security and the President should elevate the Sri Lanka Police in accordance with those principles.

Robert Peel introduced nine principles to create a disciplined, courteous and people-friendly Police Force. Therefore, the Sri Lanka Police should also be reformed, subject to these principles to bring them into the public’s esteem. He insisted that strict military repression, severe legal punishments and public support were necessary to prevent crime and social unrest and that the use of force should be very limited. Every Police Officer on probation should be imparted with a practical knowledge in this regard during the training period. Hence, it is great to include these Robert Peels’s findings in the curriculums of the Police College.

1. The basic mission for which the Police exists to prevent crime and disorder.

2. To recognize always that the power of the Police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3. To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4. To recognize always that the extent to which the cooperation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving Police objectives.

5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to law.

6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a Police objective.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the Police are the public and that the public are the Police, the Police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

9. To recognize always that the test of Police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of Police action in dealing with them.

The amount of net foreign assets held by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is decreasing day-by-day. Sri Lanka is facing a major foreign exchange crisis. In such a background, we have to go for a domestic manufacturing economy. Inflation has also increased due to the increase in the amount of money circulating in the country. In such a environment, the community Police Officers in charge of the respective areas should act to guide the unemployed youths in rural and urban areas. Moreover, the gazettes for the recruitment of Community Police assistant officers should be updated for better functioning of the community Police Service. Osmond de Silva, who served as the Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka in 1955, while working as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Kegalle District in 1939, organised programmes for the development of the rural people under the name of “Gramiya Swechcha Wiyapara”. The Officers currently engaged in community policing should be aware of these programmes. The programmes had broader objectives such as remedying unemployment.

The Ministry of Public Security should formulate policies, programmes and procedures by understanding the problems from the Police Constable to the highest ranking officer, who endures all these things such as sun, rain, tears and the pressure of duty. More resource personalities should be brought to the Police to develop scientific methods to give proper promotions. There are nearly 570 Police Stations in the island and some Police Stations do not have enough Police Officers to perform duties. In such an environment, the operations of the Police have become ineffective. It is one of the factors that has affected public confidence in the Police. The Police authorities including the Ministry of Public Security should take timely action to engage the Police Officers in their duties in a way that brings out their creativity and fun without any pressure from the Police Officers. In fact, the President should direct attention to the development of the Police. This is also the best time to make a creative change beyond providing physical resources for Police Service. A quality Police Service should not be limited to words but should be implemented in practice.

As can be seen from the facts we have discussed, rule of law is an essential element in determining the future of any society or state. Therefore, the duty and responsibility assigned to the Sri Lanka Police is huge.

(The writer is a Lecturer, Department of Management Studies, Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy, Pallekele Kandy)

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