A prudent move | Daily News

A prudent move

Public Security Minister Tiran Alles has instructed IGP Chandana Wickremaratne to remove Police protection accorded to persons and places that do not need such protection.

At the Consultative Committee meeting of the Public Security Ministry at the Parliament complex on Tuesday, Minister Alles observed that there was a severe shortage of Police officers at Police stations due to the large deployment of Police personnel to provide security to various people and places.

He issued a directive to the IGP to carry out a proper assessment to ascertain whether such individuals and places needed any further protection from the Police.

This indeed is a welcome step considering the sharp increase in the crime wave in the country and the failure by the Police to apprehend the suspects due largely to the lack of Police personnel to carry out comprehensive investigations and/or to hunt down the killers.

The Police are being maintained by the public purse and thus it is the public that should receive the top priority in the matter of security and not private individuals or places. As it is, members of the public are increasingly falling victim to criminal elements and are helpless and without proper protection while persons of importance and VIPs are given all the protection at the expense of the ordinary public.

This indeed is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and needs redressing urgently. As the Minister ordered, the IGP should make a full threat assessment of the persons currently enjoying Police protection and take prompt steps to withdraw the Police guard where appropriate.

It is also worthwhile to ascertain what these individuals who are accorded Police protection have to fear so much and from whom they seek protection. It may well be that these individuals have sought Police protection in order to carry out unlawful acts or intimidate other persons or entities, flaunting their Police protection.

True, there are business magnates, top public officials and corporate leaders who may justifiably feel they need Police protection as they are vulnerable to being targets of criminal elements and crime mafias. But in such instances they should have their own private bodyguards who could be recruited without much difficulty. The Police should only be concerned with the security of the ordinary public.

Not just prominent individuals and VIPs, today Police protection is enjoyed by even prominent members of the clergy with political connections. It is difficult to understand as to from whom such clergy are seeking Police protection. Offering Police protection to religious dignitaries has to be reconsidered.

This is because religious leaders being guarded by Police appears incongruous and would badly reflect on the religion concerned. There are also Police personnel stationed at places of religious worship, which too has to be reconsidered for the same reason. Of course an exception could be the deployment of the Police for the protection of pilgrims from unlawful acts at famous pilgrim sites where pilgrims gather in their vast numbers. Police security is also essential at top Sacred Sites such as the Sri Dalada Maligawa.

One also cannot discount the Army, Navy and Police protection accorded to certain churches following the Easter Sunday bombings. Here too a proper threat assessment should be made and the personnel deployed should be in proportion to the risk, since the Easter carnage is now all but erased from the memory of most and the threat of a repetition almost non-existent.

The Police protection accorded to politicians and VIPs too should be brought under scrutiny and here too the protection should be in proportion to the risk calculated following a proper threat assessment. Police details assigned to certain politicians are way over the mark and it is clear that this is an ego boosting exercise rather than any perceived threat to the politicians concerned.

While Police security of former Presidents should be retained, this too should be subjected to reassessment from time to time and where necessary cut down to size. Certainly Ministers and MPs at present can well do without Police escorts which is not only a drain on fuel and financial resources but also superfluous. Such fanfare could have been justified in the hay days of the LTTE or the JVP but not any longer. Police escorts should only be given to the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and the Opposition Leader.

Certain politicians have also thought it fit to bolster their Police security in the wake of the recent protest movements by university students and trade unions. This too needs a proper reassessment by the IGP, now that the Aragalaya is a fading memory. The Police should be deployed where it is really needed -for policing in the public domain rather than be concerned with the security of VIPs or private individuals.

The Police itself should undergo a radical change and upgraded in order to fit into the current transformations where crime has taken on different dimensions and new developments in the enforcement of law and order. The politicisation of the Police Service should be halted forthwith, which is a key factor in the creation of a professional Police Force.

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