IGP gags the cops

by Kalinga Weerakkody

The Ministry of Interior has decided to issue a circular, through the Inspector General of Police, to all high ranking police officers that include officers in charge of police stations that all information to the media should only be disclosed from the ranks of officers in charge (OIC) of police stations to the Inspector General of Police.

This follows representations and complaints made by members of parliament at a recent top level meeting held in the precincts of parliament at committee level chaired by the Interior Minister John Amaratunga.

At this meeting several members of parliament have pointed out that policemen irrespective of their rank involved in investigations were disclosing information to the media contrary to the correct position and that misleads the public on the true situation. ‘This has caused severe damage to the reputation of some members of parliament who face allegations,’ they have said.

It is reported that Puttalam district UNP MP Range Bandara had stated that when a lorry load of illicit timber had been detected by police in his district where a former police constable of his security was also arrested, the media had reported that he had influenced the police to release the suspect.

The MP had explained that according to investigations there was no evidence to prove that he had telephoned the police to release the suspect as mentioned in the media report. "The media has quoted the police but the police said that no one has received such a telephone call from me" Bandara had added.

At this point the Inspector General of Police T. E. Anandarajah who was present at the meeting had confirmed to Minister Amaratunga that there was no evidence to prove that Parliamentarian Bandara had called the police to release the suspect as all policemen attached to Chilaw Police, where the incident occurred had denied that Range Bandara ever called them regarding that incident.

MPs present had request Minister Amaratunga to streamline the process of providing information to the media in a responsible manner to avoid confusion and embarrassment to members of parliament who are elected representatives of the people.

IGP T. E. Anandarajah speaking to ‘The Island’ said the police has no intention to curb or curtail information to the media but was only planning to streamline the process to provide information in a more responsible and an accurate manner. "This is why we are trying to empower and entrust that responsibility to officers from the rank of OIC upto me as IGP" Anandarajah explained.

The IGP further said that he had instructed his officers to provide all accurate information regarding investigations initiated against politicians at grassroots level upto members of parliament and ministers.