SRI LANKA: Retired Senior Police Officer talks about the Devastating Degeneration of the Police Department 

SSP Angunawala (Rtd) who served the department for thirty six and half years commented on the reasons for the degeneration of the police department in a taped interview given to Janasansadaya, a human rights organization.

Sri Lanka at the moment is undergoing a very bad situation in the field of human values and the deterioration of human values has caused the deterioration of departments under which all these people are recruited to. Now the police department has suffered great damage due to the deterioration of the society as well as what has been influencing the police department towards the worst.

When I talked about the police department in which I have served for 36 and half years, what I have seen here for the past six years is devastating. From the time the police, the British established the police they introduce the code of ethics. The code of ethics is of course the departmental orders. The departmental orders have five sections from A to E, and each section has more than 25 sub sections where everything is set out in great detail; describing the establishing of the service from the first appointment to the last day of retirement.

Everything is in black and white. Even the method of a transfer of a police officer is in black and white. It cannot be done in a way any that another person wants to it to happen. The system used for the working of a police station is described in detail in the police ordinance which is encoded in the legislative enactment which should be a great tool for the working of the police department. Reporting for duty, reporting off, the working of the different branches is well coded in the police ordinance.

In addition it is all in lesson form from the time a young officer is recruited. It is done in the training school and while the constable is undergoing training. This is for a period of six months. A recruit sub-inspector was given training for a period of nine months. For the selection of officers the suitability of officers, the personality, the basic physical requirements, background and knowledge and even the family status was gone into. They were considered important and for various reasons the above considerations were not considered for some many years. The influence of the British in recruiting officers resulted in a great deal of officers going to higher posts through influence and favoritism led to great damage to the police department. Lack of knowledge, even to guide the junior officers is one which affects the service right now.

Not learning the basics of the police and how to act has led to a very grievous situation. Appointing young university graduates to senior positions where highly trained and experienced officers should be placed is a deterrent to the present system. This causes disarray to the present system because suitable officers are neglected resulting in neglect of duties, discipline, law, administration and accounts and such training should be given to all ranks of the police department if there is to be success.

If there is to be a system of giving training to the police department knowledgeable officers should be placed as resource officers. From time to time lectures should be given to them. There should be inspectorate levels of police officers to study for this and this should be arranged in such a way to be able so that they can perform their duties and also go for lectures.

Improper employment of constables and sub-inspectors is greatly seen these days. Unspecified duties where police officers should not be used, such as in parliament and to stand on the road as you seen now is deterrent to the mental condition of a police officer. Now what has happened is that this has caused a lot of damage to the mental duties of the officers. Long hours of duty are seen today where police officers are used for 12 hours. To obtain promotion officers go after politicians, if not they will never get a promotion.

The original promotion scheme was not taken into consideration placing unsuitable persons in the wrong places and giving these to persons coming straight out of universities is an absolutely dangerous situation which is happening right now and it is prolonging progress. Officers taking the law into their own hands is a great concern because extrajudicial killings are also happening today where generally the magistrate sits and has no knowledge of what is happening. There is no knowledge of rights.

This must be considered a very grave concern and undertaken at training level and even at this level there should be more detailed instruction on how to handle court situations.

There must be a senior of officer of integrity and high discipline and knowledge for the purpose of training junior officers to look up to them. Not those who go after politicians, they are demeaning their uniform and the service.

They are doing wrong things at the instructions of the politicians.

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-069-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Police negligence, Police reform, Police violence,