Sri Lanka Police marks the 151st anniversary

The 151st Anniversary of the Sri Lanka Police celebrated today at the Police Field Force Headquarters in Bambalapitiya under the auspices of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A series of events including a special Guard of Honour, parades by the Police Special Task Force, Police Mounted Division and Police Kennels Division will be followed by a parachute display. Law & Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnakake, Ministry Secretary Jagath Wijeweera and senior Police officers were present.

The Portuguese who controlled certain areas of the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka did not effect any serious changes to the existing system of civil administration of the Country. The Dutch, who arrived in Sri Lanka in 1602, were able to bring the Maritime Provinces and the Jaffna Peninsula under their rule by 1658.

The concept of policing in Sri Lanka started with the Dutch who saddled the Military with the responsibility of policing the City of Colombo. 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: one at the northern entrance to the Fort, second at the cause- way connecting Fort and Pettah and a third at 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 Dutch surrendered to the British on the 16th February 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 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 “Rathnagheri 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 the 3rd of September 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, 3rd of September 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.




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