Good and bad in police rank and file | Sunday Observer

Good and bad in police rank and file

22 January, 2023

Policemen who have enriched themselves by pandering to politicians and violating the law to support the underworld and drug rings are not unheard of in Sri Lanka.

However, this is not a much discussed topic in the country. It is reported that many top policemen have overseas bank accounts and now live luxurious lives including owning high end vehicles despite coming from nothing and earning a paltry Government salary.

Corrupt institution

Perhaps the lack of focus on these policemen has led to the Department becoming a highly corrupt institution. However, details of these corrupt policemen are a much discussed topic among the rank and file of the Sri Lanka Police.

It is a well known fact that certain policemen profit from drug rings as well as brothels in the country where they are paid a monthly sum for allowing these illegal activities to take place without any hindrance. It is also known that brothels and spas are raided in areas that have understanding policemen while those in areas with corrupt policemen remain untouched.

Some lower ranking officers claim that the properties of underworld figures such as Makandure Madhush and Angoda Lokka have been forcefully taken over by certain top policemen.

If the son of a barber in a village joins the police, only to soon he becomes a millionaire and owns estates and a hotel, shouldn’t the source of his wealth be looked into?

One top policeman who came from humble means is said to be the owner of at least fifty lorries that transport sand and soil. The lorries have been taken out in the names of others according to sources.


While these corrupt men continue to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka Police, honest policemen are often sidelined. The corrupt serve politicians and pander to their whims and fancies while filling their own coffers in the process.

However, dissatisfied many of these top policemen also expect gifts from the rank and file, especially on January 1, Christmas and the Sinhala and Hindu New Year forcing their subordinates to set aside a sum from their paltry salaries for the purpose. Similarly, they are also expected to provide gifts to their bosses upon their transfers to other areas and retirement leaving many of the rank and file disgruntled.

While farewells are allowed according to the Establishments Code, they can only be held after obtaining prior approval from the Government and under certain limitations. However, while this is not adhered to in most cases, the rank and file complain that they are made to pay for these functions despite their reluctance.

Collecting funds for gifts unless on an officer’s retirement is not allowed according to the code. However, more often than not OICs scramble to get better and larger gifts to senior officers on their transfers to win their favour. The funds for these are often collected from not only those engaged in criminal activities but from their junior staff also.

A recent brawl at a Bambalapitiya night spot was reported during one such party held for a senior officer. A investigation into the incident is now being carried out by the Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) on the orders of the IGP. This is only one such incident.

However, that there are some police officers who decline such gifts such as STF Commandant Waruna Jayasundara. It is reported that while working as DIG Colombo North, he rejected all gifts presented to him by OICs for the New Year which included hampers and other items. Ratnapura DIG Priyantha Liyanage, while serving in Jaffna is said to have declared no gifts should be given to seniors or money collected for the purpose.


There have also been instances where Police officers who banned the collection of funds for gifts have been harassed by senior officers. SP Pradeep Wettasinghe, of the Colombo Fraud Bureau while working in Kantale in 2020 had banned fund collections in writing to OICs. Despite the criticisms of senior officers, Wettasinghe had gathered information on money and gifts collected and informed the OICs of Serunuwara, Agbopura and Suriyapura that the rank and file was disgruntled by these acts and it is also unethical to burden them in this manner to provide presents to seniors.

Trincomalee DIG Lionel Gunathilake from the time he was an ASP would not partake in parties organised from funds collected from juniors, even taking meals from home for annual inspections held at police stations. However, it is known that some seniors expect feasts on these occasions and gifts to take away after the end of the inspection. The lack of these more often than not lands the OIC in the senior officer’s bad books.

The OICs must also shoulder some blame for allowing these practices. A blanket ban on collecting funds by OICs for these purposes must be implemented. The IGP in July 2022 was forced to issue directives on the same after a series of complaints were received about these practices reminding bosses that it is forbidden to collect funds from subordinates to provide gifts to top cops and that it was also forbidden to give gifts to senior officers in honour of the new year, Christmas and other special occasions.

Certain OICs had chosen to give money instead of up to Rs. 3,000 being collected from juniors. Many in the rank and file found this unaffordable due to the economic situation and given the paltry salary they receive. However, the collected money is said to be handed over to the senior officers at his quarters along with a sheaf of betel leaves despite the IGP’s directives banning such acts leading to more petitions on the same to the IGP.

The IGP handed over investigations into these to the Special Unit in the Police which has now provided reports on 94 OICs engaged in such acts. He has since handed over investigations to the CID to conduct a more thorough investigation on these allegations for the first time in the history of the Sri Lanka Police. The IGP has stressed that action will be taken against officers found to be guilty of violating the Establishment Code and collecting funds from their subordinates.