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Sri Lanka Police Service
Common name Sri Lanka Police
Pol.sri lanka.png
Shoulder flash of the Sri Lanka Police Service
Flag of the Sri Lanka Police Service
Motto Rightusly protect those who abide the Law
Agency overview
Formed 3 September, 1866
Preceding agency 1866 - 1972 known as the Ceylon Police Force
Employees 60,000+
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Sri Lanka
Legal jurisdiction National
Governing body Government of Sri Lanka
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by National Police Commission (inactive)
Headquarters Police Headquarters, Colombo
Elected officer responsible President H.E. Mahinda Rajapakse, Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order
Agency executive N.K. Illangakoon,
Inspector General of Police
Parent agency Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order
Child agencies
Ranges 5
Stations 2,000+
Police cars Hyundai
Police SUVs Land Rover

The Sri Lanka Police Service (commonly known to as the Sri Lanka Police) is the civilian national police force of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The police force has a manpower of approximately 85,000. It is responsible for enforcing criminal and traffic law, enhancing public safety, maintaining order and keeping the peace throughout Sri Lanka. The professional head of the police is the Inspector General of Police who reports to the minister of defense, when the Police service in under the Ministry of Defence as it is currently. The current Inspector General of Police is N.K. Illangakoon.

In recent years with the Sri Lankan civil war, the police service has become an integral part of maintaining of the nation's security, with primarily focusing on internal security. Many police officers have been killed in the line of duty mainly due to terrorist attacks. Specially trained commando/counter-terrorist unit named Special Task Force, are regularly deployed in joint operations with the armed forces for counter-terrorism operations, VVIP protection, and the police command structure in Northern and Eastern provinces is closely integrated with the other security organizations under the authority of the Joint Operations Command.

In case of emergency, any civilian in Sri Lanka can reach the police by dialing 119 from any telephone or sending e-mail to telligp@police.lk.

Roles[edit | edit source]

  • Law enforcement
    • Fighting crime.
    • Carrying out investigations.
    • Drug enforcement.
  • Security
  • Traffic control
  • Coordinating emergency services
  • Police and community
    • Handling civilian complaints.
    • Handling youth violence and crime.
    • Educating the community and participating in educational campaigns.
    • Providing ceremonial escorts to the President, the Prime minister and foreign ambassadors on state functions.
    • Assist and coordinate community policing.

History[edit | edit source]

Ceylon Police Force

1797 :- The office of Fiscal was created and Fredric Barron Mylius was appointed as Fiscal of Colombo and entrusted with responsibility of policing the City of Colombo.

1806 :- The regulation No. 6 of 1806, appointed a Vidane Arachchi to each village, for prevention and detection of crime in rural area.

1832: - A committee appointed by the governor was instructed to form a police force. It was decided by this committee that this new police force was to be funded by a tax to be paid by the public. It consisted of One Superintendent, One Chief Constable, Five Constables, Ten Sergeants and 150 Peons. They were responsible for maintaining law and order in the capital city of Colombo.

1844: - As the police force was restricted to coastal areas only, a second police force was created to cater to the hill country.

1858: - The police force in the coastal area and the Police force in the hill country were unified to make one Police force.

1864: - The first death of a police officer whilst on duty occurred when he attempted to apprehend a brigand by the name of "Saradiel" who was subsequently compared to "Robin Hood" of "sherwood forest".

1865: - The Police Ordinance was enacted to stipulate powers and responsibilities of policemen.

1866: - Mr. "William Robert Campbell" then the chief of police in the Indian province of Rathnageri, was appointed as Chief Superintendent of Police in Ceylon to be in charge of the Ceylon Police Force on 03.09.1866. Therefore, 3 September 1866 is considered as the beginning of Sri Lanka Police Service. 1867: - The Chief of Police was designated as the Inspector General of Police Accordingly Mr. "William Robert Campbell" became the first Inspector General of Police . The Police Headquarters was found at Maradana, in the City of Colombo.

1870: - Muslim rioters attacked The Police Headquarters. The Police were successful in repulsing the attack, but the building of the Police Headquarters was damaged. In this year the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) was formed.

1879: - The strength of the Police force had tripled from 585 when IGP Campbell was appointed, to a force of 1528. The first police firing range, training college and the publishing of the annual administration report emerged during this year.

1892: - The Depot Police presently known as the Field Force Headquarters was formed. Uniforms and housing were made free for Police officers as well as the payment of a Good Conduct Allowance was initiated.

1908: - Finger printing and photographing of criminals were initiated along with the direct recruitment to the rank of Assistant Superintendents of Police during this year.

1913: - Mr. Herbert Layard Dowbiggin was appointed as the 8th Inspector General of Police. 119 Police stations were in operation with a total strength of 2306.

1915: - For the first time two officers were appointed as Deputy Inspectors General of Police .

1916: - 0.22 Caliber rifles were issued in place of shotguns.

1920: - For the first time police officers were deployed for the purpose of controlling traffic

1923: - A book containing comprehensive details regarding all aspects of the Police called the "Departmental Order Book" was formulated.

1926: - The Sport Division was established.

1930: - A handbook of traffic rules and regulations was issued for traffic duties.

1932: - The Police Headquarters was shifted from Maradana to its present location in Colombo Fort.

1938: - Police telephone boxes were deployed throughout the city of Colombo.

1942: - Temporary forces were employed, known as Temporary Police Constables.

1945: - Police units were deployed at all hospitals. In addition Police units were also deployed for Railway security. However the following year, the Railway Police force was discontinued as a necessity did not arise.

1952: - Women were enrolled to the Police force for the first time. VHF Radios were introduced for communication. It was decided that in honour of police officers killed in the line of duty state funerals with full police honours would be held. In addition the Police flag would be flown at half mast throughout the country.

1954: - Police stations were graded into five classifications viz. Grade "E" to Grade "A" . The grading of Police stations were considered depending on the work load, population, locality, crimes, important Institutions etc., in the area.

1963: - Divisions in the Police were made as North, Central, South, Administration & Criminal Investigation Department. Mr. D. B. I. P. S. Siriwardane, a Civil servant was the first civilian to be appointed as the Deputy Inspector of Police in charge of Administration.

1966: - The Police Public Relations Division was established on 1'st October 1966, at Police Headquarters, Colombo.

1969: - The establishment of the Tourist Police and the Illicit Immigration sector, in March 1969.

1972: - The Crime Detective Bureau was started on 1 August 1972.

1973: -On 15 August 1973 the Police Narcotics Bureau was started and The Colombo Fraud Investigation Bureau too was established.

1974: - The Police uniforms for Constables and Sergeants was changed.

1976: - The rank of Woman Police Sub Inspector was introduced. 2 Women police officers were promoted to the rank of Sub Inspector.

1978: - Establishment of The Police Higher Training Institute.

1979: - The Children & Women Bureau was established.

1983: - Establishment of The Police Special Task Force.

1985: - A new promotion scheme was introduced from the rank of Police Constable up to the rank of Inspector of Police.

1988: - A Woman Police Inspector was promoted to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police

1989: - Women were recruited and enlisted as Sub Inspectors.

1991: - The Sri Lanka Police celebrated 125 years of Policing in Sri Lanka.

1993: - The Police Information Technology Division was established.

1998: - The Marine Division was established.

1999: - The Ombudsman Division was established.

2000 - The Police Examination Division was established.

2002: - The Police Human right Division was established.

2002: - The Disappearances Investigation Unit was established.

2004: - The Judicial Security Division was established.

2005: - The Colombo Crime Division was established.

2006: - The Reserve police force was abolished & its officers transferred to the regular police force.

2008: - Police Academy was established in 2008 with the amalgamation of the Police Higher Training Institute and the In-Service Training Division which are now Divisions of the Sri Lanka Police Academy.

Organization[edit | edit source]

The Sri Lanka Police is headed by the Inspector General of Police, who has in theory autonomy to commanding the service from the Police Headquarters, Colombo and support by the Police Field Force Headquarters, Colombo. However for in the recent past the Police Service has come under the purview of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with exception of a several years when it came under the Ministry of Internal Affairs but was transferred to the MoD. In the last few years there has been calls to reestablish the independent National Police Commission[1] to oversee transfers and promotions, thereby making the service autonomous and free from any influence.

The police service is organized in to five primary geographic commands, known as ranges (Range I, II, III, IV, V), covering the northern, western, eastern and southern sectors of the island under the command of a Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG). The ranges were subdivided into divisions, districts, and police stations, Colombo was designated as a special range. Each police division headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) covers a single province and a police district headed by a Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) covers a single district of the country. In 1974 there were a total of 260 police stations throughout the country and as of 2007 there are more than 2,000.

With the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War the strength and the number of stations have increased. Since 1971 the police service has suffered large number of casualties, with officers and constables killed and wounded as a result of terrorist and insurgents. In more remote rural areas beyond the immediate range of existing police stations, enforcement of simple crimes are carried out by the Grama Seva Niladhari (village service officers), but this has now become rare with most villages covered by newer by police stations.

In addition to its regular forces, the police service operated a reserve contingent until 2007 when the Reserve Police Force was disbanded and its personnel transferred to the regular police force. The police service has a number of specialized units responsible for investigative, protective, counter-terrorism and paramilitary functions.

Investigation of organized criminal activity and detective work are handled by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) under the command of a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG). More coordinated threats to internal security, such as that posed by the radical Sinhalese JVP in 1980's were the responsibility of the Counter Subversive Division, which was primarily an investigative division, it has since been replaced by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID). The TID carries out counter-terrorism investigations and threats to internal security from the LTTE.

Protective security units which are entrusted the security includes the Ministerial Security Division (elected public figures), Diplomatic Security Division (foreign diplomats) and Judicial Security Division (Judges). President's Security Division and the Prime Minister's Security Division functions independently but consists of mostly police personnel.

Other specialized units includes the Information Technology Division, the Mounted Division, the Anti-riot Squad, Traffic Police, K9 units, the Marine Division, the Police Narcotic Bureau and the Children & Women Bureau. The police service also operates the Sri Lanka Police College[1] of personnel training and the Police Hospital, Colombo.

Special Task Force

Special Task Force, is one of special operational units in the Police Service. The Special Task Force is a police paramilitary force. It was set up on 1 March 1983 with the assistance of foreign advisers (primarily former British Special Air Service personnel under the auspices of Keeny Meeny Services). Its 1,100-member force was organized into 7 companies and trained in counterinsurgency techniques. It played a major role in the government's combined force operations against the Tamil Tigers in Eastern Province before July 1987. Following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, the Special Task Force was re designated the Police Special Force, and deployed in Southern Province, where it immediately went into action against the JVP terrorists. Companies of the force also served in rotation as part of the presidential security guard.

Internal Intelligence

Until 1984 the police were responsible for national (local) intelligence functions, first under the Special Branch (est. 1966 as part of the CID), and later under the Intelligence Services Division. The perceived failure of the Intelligence Services Division during the riots of July 1983 led the J.R. Jayawardene government to reevaluate the nation's intelligence network, and in 1984 the president set up a National Intelligence Bureau. The new organization combined intelligence units from the army, navy, air force, and police. It was headed by a deputy inspector general of police who reported directly to the Ministry of Defence.

Specialized units and Divisions[edit | edit source]

Protective units
Counter-Terrorist units
Crime-Investigation units
Law enforcement
  • Traffic Police
  • Tourist Police
  • Police Kennels (K9 units)
  • Ombudsman Division
  • Strategic Development Division (community policing)[2]
Support units
Technology Infrastructure
  • Police Information Technology Division [2]
  • Police Communication Division
  • Police CCTV Division
  • Police Tell IGP Unit [3]
  • Police 119 Call Center

Peacekeeping & International deployments[edit | edit source]

In resent years members of the Sri Lanka Police have taken part in international deployments either as advisers, observers or seconded police officers for United Nations missions. These include;

Ranks[edit | edit source]

senior gazzeted Officers[edit | edit source]

Junior gazzeted Officers[edit | edit source]

  • Chief Inspector of Police (CI)
  • Inspector of Police (IP)
  • Sub Inspector of Police (SI)

Non-Gazetted Officers[edit | edit source]

  • Police Sergeant Major (PSM)
  • Police Sergeant Class 1 (PS)
  • Police Sergeant Class 2 (PS)
  • Police Constable Class 1 (PC)
  • Police Constable Class 2 (PC)
  • Police Constable Class 3 (PC)
  • Police Constable Class 4 (PC)

Requirement[edit | edit source]

Requirement to the Police Service is carried out at four stages. These stages are based apron the entry rank and educational qualification of the requite.

  • Probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police - Males/Females Graduates (aged 22–26 years) may apply and must face an entrance exam.
  • Sub Inspector of Police - Males/Females who have passed GCE Advanced Levels (aged 18–25 years) may apply and must face an endurance test and a written exam.
  • Police Constable - Males who have passed GCE Ordinary Levels (aged 18–25 years) may apply and must face an endurance test and a written exam.
  • Women Police Constable - Females who have passed GCE Ordinary Levels (aged 18–25 years) may apply and must face an endurance test and a written exam.
  • Police Constable Drivers - Those who complete up to grade 7 at school or higher with valid driving license (aged 19–35 years) may apply and must face an endurance test and a written exam.
Composition of the Police Service

Since it establishment in the 19th century the Police Service has been a centrally controlled national police force. Due to this its personnel are not recruited and deployed provincially. During the colonial period much of its senior officers were British, with lower ranks made up of natives. However this composition did not mirror the racial composition of the island. Many of the locals in the Ceylon Police Force were Burghers, followed by Sinhalese and Tamils. This was much common in the government sector and continued until in mid 1950's. Following political efforts balance the racial composition of the police service to mirror that of the society and due to the civil war the composition has become imbalanced once again with majority of the officers being Sinhalese. Currently steps are being taken to address this and personnel of all entry levels are requited from all racial groups of the island.[5][6]

Uniform[edit | edit source]

With the establishment of the Ceylon Police in 1866 a standard uniforms based on the ones of the British police forces were adapted. Officers of the grade of Inspector and above who were mostly British wore white colonial uniforms which are still used today for ceremonial occasions. Constables wore dark blue tunics, shorts and a black round cap with a collar number. Khaki uniforms were adapted by the beginning of the 20th century for practical reasons along with other military and police units of the British Empire. This was common for all ranks with the constables wearing Khaki tunics, shorts and hat while always armed with a baton until 1974.

Current standard of uniforms comes from the last major changers made in 1974, however several additions have been made since then for practical reasons. The old white uniform still remain as the full-dress uniform of Gazetted Officers, only worn for ceremonial occasions. This includes white tunic; trousers (or skirt); medals; adorned with black epaulettes with ran insignia, a black leather cross belt with the lion head badge with whistle and chain, police badge affixed black leather pouch and sword with a white coloured pith helmet. Senior gazetted officers may wear a waist sash in gold colour instead of cross belt. Mounted officers wear a red tunic for ceremonial occasions with a gold cross belt, a black custodian helmet, gazetted officers carry swords and constables carry lances with a police pennant.[7]

No.01 khaki uniform is worn for most formal occasions. No.01 khaki uniform consists of a khaki jacket adorned with black epaulettes (for gazetted officer), white shirt, black tie with khaki trousers or a skirt, black coloured peaked cap and medals. No.02 khaki uniform is the normal working uniform of all police officers. No.1 khaki uniform consists of a khaki shirt (both long sleeve or short sleeve), with khaki trousers or a skirt, black coloured peaked cap and medals ribbons. Senior gazetted officers of and above the grade of superintendent wear black "gorget patches" on all types of uniforms. Gazetted officers tend to wear a short sleeve tunic like "bush jacket" as part of their No.02 khaki uniform. Black sam browne belts are worn by gazetted officers with traffic policemen wearing white coloured peak caps and the white belt with sam browne belts on their khaki uniforms. Constables and sergeants wear their service number on their uniform. For practical reasons overalls of green or black may be worn with boots when necessory.[7]

Special Task Force personnel usually wear khaki uniforms which are a bit lighter in colour. They tend to wear a camouflage uniform with boots and bright green coloured beret.

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

The Sri Lanka Police has its own award and decorations that are awarded to its officers for services in the line of duty.....

Weapons[edit | edit source]

Sri Lanka Police officers normally carry automatic rifles and pistols while on patrol due to terrorist threats. The Special Task Force with its wide rang of duties is equipped with a greater variety of firearms and a higher degree of firepower to carry out military type Counter-terrorism operations.


Assault Rifles

Sub-Machine guns

Sniper Rifles

Grenade launchers

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Notable officers killed in the line of duty or assassinated[edit | edit source]

  • SDIG T.N. De Silva - Senior DIG Colombo Range, Killed by a LTTE suicide bomb attack on 18 December 1999.[9][10][11][12]
  • DIG Terrance Perera - Director, Counter Subversive Division ; shot dead on 12 December 1987 in Talangama.
  • DIG Bennet Perera - Director, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) ; shot dead on 1 May 1989 in Mount Lavinia
  • DIG Charles Wijewardene - Superintendent of Police, Jaffna; abducted and killed in Jaffna on 5 August 2005, LTTE suspected[13]
  • DIG Upul Seneviratne - Director of Training, Special Task Force; killed in a roadside bombing on 7 August 2006, LTTE suspected[14]
  • SSP Ranwalage Sirimal Perera - Superintendent of Police; killed with president Premadasa by a LTTE suicide bomb attack on 1 May 1993

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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