Rose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose Petal
Rose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose PetalRose Petal
brand logo

Sri Lanka Police has lost sight of its mandate 

15 Apr 2021

  • The enforcers of the law have got their priorities mixed up and need radical reform 

  We must thank the Minister of Public Security for his extraordinary revelation a few weeks ago that more than half of Sri Lanka’s police force – over 44,000 of 88,000 personnel in fact – are deployed for VIP protection duties, leaving less than half to look after the needs of the country’s population of 21 million people. If all of the so-called VIPs actually need protection by 44,000 policemen, then what the police action infers is that we are a nation of thugs and murderers from whom the VIPs need protecting. That’s a damning indictment on our nation, and on every Sri Lankan citizen. Or would it be more plausible to say that the Police Department has got its priorities mixed up, and forgotten the reasons for its existence? It is expected that the Minister would be making some drastic structural changes in order to correct this ridiculous situation; but in the meantime, we took a look at what our police force says they are doing, by examining documents released by the Police Department that are available in the public domain. What we found was an institution that has quite clearly lost sight of what its true mandate is supposed to be – to serve the public and maintain law, order, and human dignity.   “The police are the public, and the public are the police” – Sir Robert Peel This statement reflects the dual role of law enforcement members in society. The Police officers and the Government are expected to protect the community, and both are part of the community they serve.   Forgetting their own Vision The Police Department’s Vision, as stated in the “Annual Performance Report for Year 2019” of the Sri Lanka Police is: “Creating a peaceful environment in which people can live confidently without any fear of crime and violence.” In this, we can safely say the Police have failed miserably. With more than half of their cadre being dedicated to serve VIPs, it’s hardly surprising.   Wrong priorities – main functions of the Police Department   The “Annual Performance Report for Year 2019” of the Sri Lanka Police lists the following main functions:
  1. Control and prevention of crimes
  2. Prevention of drug menace
  3. Controlling corruption
  4. Protection of the environment
  5. Traffic control
  6. Making relief to people in disaster situations
  7. Providing VIP security 
With regard to the first three items, there can be little debate that the Police Department’s strategies have failed quite miserably. Crime is out of control; the drug menace is of such proportions that a large number of officers of the Narcotics Bureau are currently charged in court with being part of the drug world; and corruption is today the norm in society and throughout the government sector. As for the environment, police activity doesn’t appear to have had much effect on conservation. It is perhaps not correct to place the responsibility for traffic on the shoulders of the Police, since much of the urban traffic problems are the result of very bad road designing. The role played by the Police in handling disaster situations is actually quite commendable – from bomb blasts to earth slips and floods, police perform very enthusiastically. But perhaps the most notable success of the Police Department is in providing security to VIPs, which of course begs the question of whether the Police have got their priorities all wrong. After all, their duty is to protect the public; not just VIPs.   Walk the beat! There was a time when Sri Lankan policemen would walk the beat, providing a visible presence on the streets and throughout the community, whether in the big cities or in small villages. But today, Police presence in the community is negligible, save for those involved in traffic operations. Small wonder, if more than half the cops are mollycoddling VIPs! Out of sight is out of mind, and the absence of policemen on the beat is a root cause of the country’s anarchy and criminal activity.   How many ‘VIPs’ do we have? Why in the world do we need 44,000 policemen to guard the small number of VIPs who face credible threats? Or is it that policemen are being used as drivers, servants, and peons by politicians? And what is worse, are the police being used by VIPs to terrorise the public, especially on the roads? Keep in mind that in Sri Lanka, private citizens cannot own guns without the permission of the Ministry of Defence. So the threat to VIPs is actually quite minimal. If there are thousands of guns out there with which people can threaten VIPs, then this is simply a failure of the Police Department itself in not tracking down and seizing those guns and arresting the culprits. Possession of an unlicensed firearm is a non-bailable offense. Let’s take a quick look at the real number of Very Important Persons:
  • President - 1
  • MPs - 225
  • Perhaps the Governors and Chief Ministers of the nine provinces require Police protection 
  • Judges - The Chief Justice definitely requires Police protection, and perhaps also all of the other justices of the Supreme Court. Also the Attorney General and the Auditor General. But does every magistrate need a police presence to protect him? Remember that important officials can easily obtain gun licences, and are officially issued guns by the Government, if their jobs place them at risk
  • Does every head of a government department need protection? For what reason? Perhaps a few of them do, such as the Governor of the Central Bank. But if a particular department head requires security, it should be provided and paid for by that particular department, and not by the resource-strapped Police Department
  • Heads of the armed forces are protected by personnel of their forces, and Police are therefore not required
  • Should Provincial Councillors be protected by the police? Against whom? Why would they be under threat from anyone, except perhaps the voters whom many of them defraud?
  • The same is true of local government politicians. The Chairman of a Pradeshiya Sabha does not need Police protection
  • Foreign dignitaries do need to be protected. But how often do we have foreign VIPs visiting our country? Not very often
  So how many VIPs is that in real terms? Less than 500. This begs the question of what 44,000 policemen are doing guarding them.    Police in Sri Lanka today The police in Sri Lanka are responsible for social insurance by ensuring the safety of every aspect of public life.
  • 494 police stations are currently established to carry out a broader role. In addition, the Sri Lankan Police services are implemented by an organisation structure, comprising 44 territorial and 62 functional divisions
  • More than 88,000 policemen are in the cadre (In supra grade, inspector grade, and junior grade). The actual number appears to vary in different documents
  • There are an additional 4,000 civil officers assisting the tasks of the Police
  How effective is our policing? The statistics on the proportion of cases that remain unsolved are startling. In fact, it’s like reading a horror story. Of 662 abductions in 2019, 455 are listed as “Investigations Pending”. Of 479 homicides during this period, 299 investigations are pending. The success/failure rates of other types of crimes are similar. In total, 34,488 crimes of all types were reported. But 19,680 were listed as “Investigations Pending”. That’s an alarmingly high number indeed as shown in Fig 2. Remember that these are the crimes that have been officially reported and found to be true crimes. There would be thousands more that are not reported, especially involving harassment of women and children, and simple theft.   The aim of law enforcement is to promote public safety and maintain the rule of law in a free society in order for individual liberty to flourish, which in turn spurs economic growth. Trust and accountability between law enforcement and the communities to which they are committed is crucial to the pursuit of these objectives. Proper policing practices require law enforcement to build positive links with their communities, respect for civil rights, and prevention of the use of excessive force against citizens. Cost of protecting Cabinet Ministers The Sri Lankan mindset still prevails in VIP culture, which should be eliminated. Security should be provided only in exceptional cases. In general, under political pressure or recommendation, security is given by the local police, in addition to the security that a VIP is officially entitled to. In providing VIP security coverage, we have to be very strict and mindful because it should not be treated as a status symbol, and should only be given to people who need it. A realistic threat assessment must be made to determine as to who needs VIP security. In contrast, security should be provided on an ongoing basis, and periodic reviews should be undertaken to prevent abuse of power. The reduction of the number of policemen for protectees is part of the greater effort to turn the Police to important duties in relation to law and order. It has been frequently seen that VIPs who do not need security continue to demand protection.    Specialised divisions exist for VIP protection Although there are many specialised divisions for the protection of VIPs, one glaring factor that affects the ability of police stations countrywide to protect the public is the drain on police stations to provide additional security for VIPs. This is often in the form of semi-permanent assigning of cadres to VIP residences and convoys, together with vehicles, as well as ad hoc security requirements for various occasions, such as opening ceremonies and public meetings, of which every politician has many each week.   Is there a problem in recruitment? There was a time when a career as a police officer was quite prestigious, and drew applicants from the better strata of society. But today, a police career has become less than desirable for many. This has automatically led to a drop in the quality of work and efficiency in the department.   Pool of talent: Most people understand that the careers of law enforcement are not for all, but it appears, at least anecdotally, that there are still fewer applicants in the pool. Several factors converged so that finding good police officers and increasing the interest in police careers is more difficult than ever before.   Relatively low salary: While more people graduate from the university, salaries for law enforcement officials – especially starting salaries – do not reflect the expectations of new generations of candidates for higher earnings. In addition, the benefits of a lower wage for an earlier and potentially much more lucrative retirement situation at the end of their careers, are not recognised by many younger job seekers due to the high level of inflation in the country.   Physical fitness: A smaller group of potential police officer candidates has also been driven by an ever more sedentary lifestyle among the younger generations, an increase of obesity, and a relatively low fitness level amongst so many. The departments can determine that fewer applicants can meet their weighting and physical fitness standards, given the potentially demanding physical rigours.   Way forward  
  • Restructuring of human resources and other resources We have an enormous number of policemen – 88,000 of them in fact. We simply need to restructure the Department to ensure that 44,000 aren’t serving politicians and other VIPs. Restructure and transfer about 30,000 of them to serve the public, and we will find that we have enough policemen, and that crime will drop drastically.
  • Only specialist divisions should protect VIPs The President has the PSD; the PM has the PMSD; Ministers have the MSD; etc. These divisions should take care of the VIPs. The resources of every police station should not be used up to take care of the Pradeshiya Sabha members in the area.
  • Technology
 
  • CCTV – In an era when even small shops have CCTV cameras watching the road, it is incomprehensible why police and local government authorities don’t have cameras installed in all major public locations. This would prove to be a huge deterrent of crime.
  • DNA and fingerprint database – It is highly desirable that a database of DNA and fingerprints be maintained by the Police Department. Crime fighting would become far simpler.
  • Database of citizens – The Government of Sri Lanka already has all data with regard to every citizen. It’s simply just scattered among dozens of different departments, none of which seem to share information with each other. There have been many grand announcements of an integrated database, but little progress appears to have been made. Such a database would enable every police station to instantly access details with regard to every citizen, which is a very basic component in controlling crime.
   
  • Training
  Report after report of the Police Department highlights the need to modernise the training of not just the Police Department, but related fields, such as criminology and DNA technology, in universities. These can be set up in less than a year; but little seems to get done.    
  • Physical fitness
  All policemen and women need to be physically fit, for the good of the public and for their own health. A proper fitness regime must be implemented. No one respects a fat cop who can’t chase down a suspect.  
Copyright Niresh Eliatamby and Nicholas Ruwan Dias Dr. Nicholas Ruwan Dias, BSc, MSc, PhD, and Niresh Eliatamby, LL.B., LL.M., MBA, are Managing Partners of Cogitaro.com, a consultancy that finds practical solutions for challenges facing society, the environment and all types of industries. Dr. Dias is a digital architect and educationist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ruwan@cogitaro.com Eliatamby is an author, journalist and educationist based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. niresh@cogitaro.com
 

Kapruka

Discover Kapruka, the leading online shopping platform in Sri Lanka, where you can conveniently send Gifts and Flowers to your loved ones for any event. Explore a wide range of popular Shopping Categories on Kapruka, including Toys, Groceries, Electronics, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Automobile, Mother and Baby Products, Clothing, and Fashion. Additionally, Kapruka offers unique online services like Money Remittance, Astrology, Medicine Delivery, and access to over 700 Top Brands. Also If you’re interested in selling with Kapruka, Partner Central by Kapruka is the best solution to start with. Moreover, through Kapruka Global Shop, you can also enjoy the convenience of purchasing products from renowned platforms like Amazon and eBay and have them delivered to Sri Lanka.Send love straight to their heart this Valentine's with our thoughtful gifts!

Discover Kapruka, the leading online shopping platform in Sri Lanka, where you can conveniently send Gifts and Flowers to your loved ones for any event. Explore a wide range of popular Shopping Categories on Kapruka, including Toys, Groceries, Electronics, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Automobile, Mother and Baby Products, Clothing, and Fashion. Additionally, Kapruka offers unique online services like Money Remittance, Astrology, Medicine Delivery, and access to over 700 Top Brands. Also If you’re interested in selling with Kapruka, Partner Central by Kapruka is the best solution to start with. Moreover, through Kapruka Global Shop, you can also enjoy the convenience of purchasing products from renowned platforms like Amazon and eBay and have them delivered to Sri Lanka.Send love straight to their heart this Valentine's with our thoughtful gifts!


More News..