By K. Prasanna
Police Day is celebrated on September 3 in Sri Lanka not only to honour the officers who sacrificed their lives in service to the country but also to emphasise the crucial role the Police play in maintaining peace and law and order.
However, the manner in which the police mishandled the recent protests has evoked deep public displeasure. Moreover, the trust the people have in the Police is being eroded amidst a growing public perception that they do not conduct proper investigations into the crimes of politicians and their cronies.
With the Police Department being accused of not asserting its independence and, instead, becoming an appendage of politicians, its credibility is severely undermined. On the other hand, the police service is also tarnished by the involvement of some police officers in criminal activities though they are required to set an example to others as law-abiding officers.
On December 1, 2021, the Inspector General of Police sent a shocking report to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, listing the crimes committed by police officers. According to the report, 359 cases were filed in 2021 against police officers for committing various irregularities. Some 283 cases were related to the obstruction of duties of police officers.
The report also noted that in 2021, about 156 police officers were identified as being addicted to drugs while 21 officers were arrested on charges of possessing drugs.
It was also mentioned in the IGP’s report that the Intelligence Division had received information about 130 officers who had links with drug traffickers but the relevant Officers-in-Charge of the police stations had failed to disclose this information.
To find out about the level to which the police service had deteriorated, we sought information through Right to Information requests. But the department rejected the request, forcing us to appeal to the Right to Information Commission. In its ruling on June 23, 2022, the Commission ordered Police Headquarters officer S.H.S. Jagathsiri to provide the information requested.
The information provided by the Police Headquarters reveals that during the 2015-2021 period, about 3,363 police officers were involved in criminal activities and 2,122 police officers were dismissed due to misconduct. Some 360 police officers faced bribery charges, 493 officers alcohol- or drug-related charges, and 435 officers misconduct charges, while 652 officers were under investigation for alleged misuse of power, 401 for criminal offences, 523 for traffic offences and 499 police officers for other crimes.
A breakdown of the 2,122 officers dismissed during 2015-2021 is as follows: 295 were dismissed in 2015, 234 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 318 in 2018, 366 in 2019, 389 in 2020 and 280 in 2021.
Between 2015 and 2021, 309 complaints were registered against police officers by the general public at the Police Complaints Division at Police Headquarters. Of these complaints, 34 were registered in 2015, 48 in 2016, 59 in 2017, 70 in 2018, 67 in 2019, 30 in 2020 and one in 2021.
Also during the period under review, about 10,489 police officers left the service. Among them, 1,525 officers left the force before the retirement age while 8,964 police officers retired upon reaching the retirement age. The year in which the highest number of officers left the service before the retirement age was 2021. The number was 379.
Meanwhile, in the letter sent to the Public Security Ministry Secretary retired Major General K. Jagath Alwis, Inspector General C. D. Wickramaratne also revealed that 126 officers who were selected as Officers-in-Charge of police stations did not participate in the interviews held from January 01 to November 03, 2021. In total, 184 OICs were appointed from January 01 to November 03, 2021.
The IGP also pointed out in the letter that three officers who participated in the interview and were not recommended for the post were appointed as Officers-in-Charge.
It was stated in the letter that 13 officers who had not previously held the Officer-in-Charge positions were appointed as A1 or A2 station Officers-in-Charge. Also, 21 other such officers were appointed simultaneously as A3 Police Station Officers-in-Charge.
The letter also said that without due process, 19 officers who were working in B or C-grade police stations had been appointed as Officers-in-Charge of A1 and A2 police stations.
The information released by the police headquarters also revealed that 19,185 officers had been recruited for various positions between 2015 and 2021. They included 14 Assistant Superintendents of Police, 766 Sub-Inspectors, 160 Women Sub-Inspectors, 13,815 Police Constables, 3,423 Women Police Constables, and 1,007 Police Constable Drivers.
A year-by-year breakdown shows 1,585 officers were recruited in 2015, 1,657 in 2016, 1,476 in 2017, 2,313 in 2018, 2,748 in 2019, 1,530 in 2020, and 7,876 in 2021.
Please see the table below for more information.
|Police officers on duty between 2015 – 2021 |
North Western Province
North Central Province
|Officers recruited between 2015 – 2021 for the police service|
|Assistant Superintendent of Police||–||–||–||–||14||–||–||14|
|Women Police Sub-inspectors||43||–||28||–||51||–||38||160|
|Women Police Constables||319||–||372||633||472||104||1523||3423|
|Police Constable drivers||300||40||129||145||177||–||216||1007|
|Police officers who withdrew from service between 2015 – 2021 |
|Withdraw in between the service period||126||159||194||205||237||225||379||1525|
|Police officers under investigation on crime charges|
|State of the crime||Year|
|Alcohol and drugs||58||57||81||62||73||95||67||493|
|Negligence of duties||85||92||73||94||109||102||97||652|