A Sri Lankan policeman with a gun, wearing the green inform of Sri Lanka Police
A Proud Policeman from the Sri Lanka Police

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country that attracts millions of tourists within a year. Besides, it is also popular as a country with good social conduct, and civil rule. When paying attention to this matter, the armed forces of the country, as well as the Sri Lanka Police can never be ignored. Hence, we thought of focusing this article, on this special government body. Continue reading to know all about it!

A General Overview of Sri Lanka Police

Sri Lanka Police is considered Sri Lanka’s civilian national force. It is responsible for maintaining order and keeping the peace, ensuring public safety as well as enforcing criminal law and traffic laws in Sri Lanka.

The police consist of nearly 84,000 people who come under 432 police stations, 67 functional divisions, and 43 territorial divisions. ‘Dhammo Have Rakkathi Dhammachari‘ is the motto of the Sri Lanka Police which means the one who lives by the Dhamma is protected by the Dhamma itself in English. The government of Sri Lanka is the governing body of the Sri Lanka Police while the National Police Commission overviews it. Its headquarters are located on Church Street in Colombo 01. Besides, the Ministry of Defence is the parent agency of the police while the Special Task Force, Terrorist Investigation Department, Criminal Investigation Department, Children and Women Bureau, and Police Narcotic Bureau are child agencies.

The History of Sri Lanka Police

The history of the Sri Lanka Police goes back to 1797. In 1797, the British governor of Ceylon created the office of Fiscal and made Fredric Barron Mylius the Fiscal of Colombo. In 1806, the British governor appointed a Vidane Arachchi to each village. Vidane Arachchi was responsible for the detection and prevention of crime in their supervising areas. Later, in 1832, the governor of Ceylon instructed to form a Police Force that consists of a superintendent, ten sergeants, a chief constable with five constables, and 150 peons. 

In 1865, the British governor in Ceylon enacted the Police Ordinance which resulted in stipulating the responsibilities and powers of policemen. Consequently, the beginning of the Sri Lanka Police Service happened in the later year with William Robert Campbell as the Chief Superintendent of police in Ceylon. This was exactly on the 3rd of September 1866. In 1867, William Robert Campbell became the first Inspector General of Police. In the same year, the police headquarters was founded in Maradana, but it was moved to Colombo Fort in 1932. Furthermore, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) was established in 1870. 

Making another chapter in Sri Lanka’s police history, women were permitted to enrol in the police force for the first time in 1952. Moreover, depending on the factors such as population, workload, crimes, locality, and important institutions in the area, the administration graded the police stations into five classifications, Grades “E to A” in 1954.

In 1974, the administration decided to change the uniforms for constables and sergeants. The Police Higher Training Institute and the Police Special Task Force were established in 1978 and 1983 respectively. Later, in 2008, Sri Lanka Police Academy was established. 

Roles of Sri Lanka Police

Sri Lanka Police has the authority for law enforcement in the country. This includes fighting crimes, carrying out investigations, and drug enforcement. In addition, the police ensure the security of the country by keeping public security, maintaining public order, securing public events, rallies, and holidays, intelligence services, handling suspicious objects and bomb disposal, riot control/crowd control, counter-terrorism, providing VIP security, assisting the prison service with management of prison unrest and in prisoner transport as well as handling the local command of the home guard. 

Moreover, the police play a key role in traffic control and coordinating emergency services in the country. Apart from that, the police render a great service to the community by handling civilian complaints, educating the community and participating in educational campaigns, handling youth violence and crime, and assisting and coordinating community policing. Similarly, the President, the Prime Minister, and foreign ambassadors are provided with ceremonial escorts by the police at state functions.

In addition to all these, the police provide the following services to the community. 

  1. Emergency services for the public
  2. Entertaining complaints of the general public.
  3. Tourist Police
  4. Issue of extracts of complaints
  5. Issuing clearance certificates.
  6. Issuing of police clearance certificates for employment
  7. Issue of accident reports 
  8. Loudspeaker permits issuing
  9. Gun / explosive permits issuing
  10. Public processions maintaining

Accordingly, it is clear that the Police plays a significant role in Sri Lankan society.

The Organization of the Police

The Inspector General of Police is the professional head of the Sri Lanka Police. He reports to the National Police Commission and the Ministry of Law and Order. C. D. Wikramaratna is the current Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka. The police service consists of five geographic commands called ranges. Under the command of a Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police, the ranges of the northern, southern, eastern, and western sectors of the country are covered. These ranges are again subdivided into police divisions which are headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG). Furthermore, divisions are subdivided into districts and police stations. A Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) heads a single district of the country. 

Special Task Force

This is one of the special operational units owned by the Sri Lankan Police. This was established in March 1983. Some foreign advisers like the British Special Air Service assisted in the forming of the Special Task Force. The Special Task Force of Sri Lanka rendered great service during the 30-year civil war that took place in the country, a few years back.

Specialized Units and Divisions

Sri Lanka Police consists of a number of specialized units and divisions. The main units are as follows. 

  1. Protective unit
  2. Counter-terrorist unit
  3. Crime-investigation unit
  4. Law enforcement unit
  5. Support unit
  6. Technology infrastructure unit

The protective unit consists of the president’s security division, prime minister’s security division, ministerial security division, parliament police division, judicial security division, and diplomatic security division.

The counter-terrorist unit of Sri Lanka Police consists of the Special Task Force (STF) and Terrorist Investigation Division (TID). Moreover, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Colombo Crime Division, Police Narcotic Bureau, Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), Children & Women Bureau, disappearances division, and the human rights division comes under the crime-investigation unit.

Similarly, the law enforcement unit consists of the traffic police, tourist police, anti-riot squad, police kennels (k9 units), ombudsman division, and strategic development division (community policing). 

The mounted division, marine division, Sri Lanka Police Academy, police examination division, and the police hospital in Colombo act as the support units of the Sri Lankan Police. Furthermore, the technology infrastructure unit of the Police consists of the police information technology division, police communication division, police CCTV division, police public relations division, police tell IGP unit, and the police 119 call center. 

Ranks of the Sri Lanka Police

Policemen of the Sri Lanka Police come under 16 ranks from top to the bottom. Out of these ranks, the senior ranks are as follows. 

  1. Inspector General of Police (IGP)
  2. Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG)
  3. Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG)
  4. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP)
  5. Superintendent of Police (SP)
  6. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP)
  7. Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) 
  8. Inspector of Police (IP)
  9. Sub-inspector of Police (SI)

In addition to the above senior ranks, other policemen work under the following ranks. 

  1. Police Sergeant Major (PS)
  2. Police Sergeant Class 1 (PS)
  3. Police Sergeant Class 2 (PS)
  4. Police Constable Class 1 (PC)
  5. Police Constable Class 2 (PC)
  6. Police Constable Class 3 (PC)
  7. Police Constable Class 4 (PC)

Uniforms of the Sri Lanka Police

Standard uniforms for the police were designed in 1866 with the establishment of the Ceylon Police. The uniforms of the British police force greatly influenced the Ceylon police uniforms. Inspectors and the above-graded officers used to wear white colonial uniforms that the British used to wear. However, police officers still wear them for ceremonial occasions. Meanwhile, the uniforms of constables consist of dark blue tunics, shirts, and black round caps. The cap had a collar number on it. For practical reasons, khaki uniforms came to use in later years. However, all the ranks of police wore khaki uniforms with khaki tunics, shorts, hats, and a baton until 1974. 

With the last major changes made in 1974, the present uniform came. It had to undergo several changes for practical reasons. The number 01 khaki uniform consists of a khaki jacket with black epaulets, white shirt, khaki trousers or skirt, black tie, medals, and black peaked cap. The officers wear this uniform mostly for formal occasions. Meanwhile, the number 02 khaki uniform has a khaki shirt which is long-sleeved or short-sleeved, khaki trousers or skirts, medals, ribbons, and a black peaked cap. This is the normal working uniform. 

The superintendent’s grade and the officers above wear black gorget patches on their uniforms. Moreover, the officers above the rank of sub-inspector wear a short sleeve tunic like a bush jacket and black sam brown belts. In addition, the traffic policemen wear white belts along with white peak caps. Meanwhile, the relevant service numbers are worn on their uniforms by the sergeants and the constables of the Sri Lanka Police. The officers of the Special Task Force of the Police wear khaki uniforms with slightly lighter colors compared to the other uniforms. In addition, they wear DPM camouflage uniforms along with bright green berets. 

Awards and Decorations of the Sri Lanka Police

Sri Lanka Police presents a number of awards and decorations to the policemen with consideration of their talents and achievements. These awards and decorations include the following. 

  1. Gallantry medals
  2. Service medals
  3. Meritorious awards & medals
  4. Campaign medals
  5. Coronation/inauguration medals
  6. Anniversary medals
  7. United Nations’ service medals
  8. Former decorations & medals

Sri Lanka Police awards two gallantry medals named Janadhipathi Police Weeratha Padakkama (Presidential Medal of Police Gallantry) and Sri Lanka Police Weeratha Padakkama (The Police Gallantry Medal). In addition, it awards three service medals for the police officers named Sri Lanka Police Vishishta Seva Padakkama, Sri Lanka Police Long Service Medal, and Sri Lanka Police First Aid Medal.

The meritorious awards & medals of the Police include the Desha Putra Padakkama (Son of the Nation Medal) and Uththama Pooja Pranama Padakkama (Recognition of Meritorious Sacrifice Medal). Moreover, Purna Bhumi Padakkama, Riviresa Campaign Services Medal, Northern Humanitarian Operations Medal, and Eastern Humanitarian Operations Medal are awarded as the campaign medals. In the same way, the police awarded some coronation or inauguration medals like Ceylon Police Independence Medal in 1948, Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953, and President’s Inauguration Medal in 1978. 

Celebrating a few of the prominent anniversaries of the country, Sri Lanka Police awarded Janaraja Padakkama (The Republic Medal) in 1972, the 50th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal in 1998 as well as Sri Lanka Police 125th Anniversary Medal in 1991 as the anniversary medals. Similarly, the police received two United Nations service medals for their participation in the United Nations Mission of Support to East Timor, in 2003 and United Nations Mission in Liberia, in 2007.

Furthermore, former decorations & medals of the Sri Lanka Police include the following.

  • Queen’s Police Medal
  • King’s Police Medal
  • Ceylon Police Medal
  • Colonial Police Medal
  • Ceylon Police Long Service Medal
  • Defence Medal

Weapons of Sri Lanka Police

Police officers do not carry weapons while performing their normal duties. But, they are advised to carry weapons. The Special Task Force usually consists of a greater variety of firearms in order to handle military-type counter-terrorism operations. 

Sri Lanka Police have a number of handguns such as the following. 

  • Glock 17
  • Beretta 92
  • Glock 19
  • Beretta M9 series pistols
  • Browning 9mm

In addition, the police have several assault rifles like type 56 assault rifles for ceremonial purposes, type 56-2 assault rifles, and M4 Carbine assault rifles. Furthermore, the police consist of sub-machine guns like H&K MP5 submachine guns and Uzi submachine guns, sniper rifles like Heckler & Koch PSG1 sniper rifles as well as grenade launchers like the HK 69 breech-loading grenade launcher. 

Vehicles of the Police

In order to perform duties with maximum efficiency, Sri Lanka Police is provided with thousands of vehicles that belong to a wide range of performances. These vehicles include the following. 

  • Hyundai Elantra patrol cars
  • Volkswagen patrol cars
  • Mazda patrol cars
  • Subaru patrol cars
  • Mitsubishi Galant cars
  • Proton cars
  • Mazda BT-50 pick-ups
  • Tata Safari SUVs
  • Kawasaki 750cc motorcycles
  • Hero Honda 200cc motorcycles
  • Tata Sumo SUVs
  • Suzuki 500cc motorcycles
  • Mahindra Scorpio SUVs
  • Yamaha 600cc patrol bikes
  • Bicycles

What are the Requirements to Join the Police?

Sri Lanka Police recruits police officers in four stages. They are based on educational qualifications and entry ranks. Anyone who has completed the entry requirements has the chance to join the police for the following positions.

  1. Probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police
  2. Probationary Sub Inspector of Police
  3. Police Constable
  4. Women Police Constable
  5. Police Constable Drivers

Male and female applicants who have a degree from a recognized university in Sri Lanka and are between the ages of 22 to 26 have the chance to apply for the post of Probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police. Moreover, these applicants must face an entrance examination. If someone is looking for a Probationary Sub Inspector of Police position, they must have passed the GCE A/L examination and must be aged 18 – 25 years. However, they will have to undergo an endurance test and a written exam. 

Males and females who have completed the GCE O/L examination and are between the ages of 18 – 25 have the chance to apply for the Police Constable and Women Police Constable positions respectively. They must face a written exam as well as an endurance test. If someone is willing to join Sri Lanka Police as a Police Constable driver, they must have completed a minimum of up to grade 7 at school. In addition, they must be between the ages of 19 – 35 years and must have a valid driving license. However, they too must undergo an endurance test and a written exam. 

Peacekeeping and International Deployments

Sri Lanka Police officers have taken part in a number of international deployments during the past few years. These deployments were as advisers as well as observers. United Nations Mission of Support to East Timor, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the United Nations Mission in Sudan, and the United Nations Mission in Liberia are some of the United Nations peacekeeping missions where the Sri Lankan police personnel have taken part since 2002. Furthermore, the Special Task personnel of the police assisted the Chinese police in maintaining security against possible terrorist threats during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

The Bottom Line

After all, it is clear that the Sri Lankan Police does a great service to the country, in maintaining its peace, and rule. Hence their contributions should be indeed appreciated. By chance, if you are a tourist who is planning to travel around Sri Lanka, you might be able to see how these policemen work day and night for the betterment of society. So, if you get a chance, don’t forget to speak a few words with them, as you travel. Also, do not hesitate to contact them for any of the emergencies that you face while you are traveling in this country. Happy and safe traveling!