21 Policing: Int'l J. Police Strat. & Mgmt. 354 (1998)
The Armed Police in the British Colonial Tradition - The Indian Perspective

handle is hein.journals/polic21 and id is 356 raw text is: The armed police in the
British colonial tradition
The Indian perspective
Dilip K. Das
Western Illinois Univesity, Illinois, USA, and
Arvind Verma
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Policing An International Journal of
Police Strategies & Management,
Vol. 21 No. 2, 1998, pp. 354-367,
C MCB University Press, 1363-951X

The unarmed Bobby is a celebrated symbol of the British system of policing. He
exemplifies policing by consent, the unique distinction of England's purely
civilian police from paramilitarism of the continental police represented by
the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, the Dutch Marechausse, the
Spanish La Guardia Civil or for that matter, the Irish Garda Siochana (Banton,
1964; Brogden, 1982; Reiner, 1991; Reith, 1975, 1956 and 1938; Waddington, 1991
etc.). Jefferson (1990) refers to the prevailing attitude to paramilitary policing
and colonial policing as un-British, among other things, because of the
planned aggression of the arrest and dispersal tactics.
In stark contrast to this popular image there is another form of policing that
was developed by the British administrators. It is entirely different in its
publicly acknowledged concept and philosophy from the Metropolitan model of
1829, the home variety of policing that Sir Robert Peel introduced in London.
This is the colonial system which originated in Ireland, namely, the Royal Irish
Constabulary (RIC). It was designed to police a foreign land to ensure security
of the imperial elements and the colonial interests.
This paper describes the influence of the colonial model in the development
of the system of armed police in India who are basically used for maintenance
of order, and not for prevention and detection of crime. In other words, they are
order police, not law police (Banton, 1964). The armed police are a special police
not legally empowered to perform fully the job of the police in India. We will
first describe this system of policing that emerged from the policy
considerations of the British imperial rulers and then follow its creation in
India. We argue that the colonial model naturally had objectives different from
those behind the creation of the Metropolitan force of London and therefore led
to a separate and distinct form of policing. It is necessary to understand the
model in its totality to appreciate the emergence of such an armed branch in the
Indian police system. We will further describe the present system of armed
policing in India and argue that it is proving detrimental to the development of
a civilian police primarily engaged in prevention and detection of crime.
As it is well known, the British had colonies all over the world where the
problem of governing people with different cultures and institutions forced

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