A Brief History of the Indian Police Service (IPS) in India

“The police must obey the law while enforcing the law.” – Earl Warren

The Indian Police Service (IPS) is one of the three all India services in the country. This service provides senior officials to the police forces. You can become an IPS officer and even go on to become the highest-ranking police official in the country (Director General of Police/DGP) by clearing the UPSC civil services exam and acquiring the rank required. This article gives a brief history of the Indian Police Service in India.

The Indian Councils Act of 1861 by the British created a professional police bureaucracy in India. This established the Superior Police Services (later renamed Indian Imperial Police). Here, the Inspector General was the head of the provincial police administration. The provinces divided into districts were headed by the Superintendents of Police. The recruitment was carried out by nomination. This was done in two ways – either officers from the British Army were appointed or younger sons of the landed gentry in the United Kingdom were appointed.

The nomination system of recruiting officers was abandoned in 1893. A combined competitive examination was started to recruit officers to the Indian Police. This exam was held in London. The first such exam was conducted in June 1893 and the top ten candidates in the merit list were appointed as probationers in the Indian Imperial Police.

In 1902 – 03, under Sir Andrew Frazer and Lord Curzon a Police Commission was established. The Commission recommended the appointment of Indians at the officers’ level (this was not permitted earlier). However, Indians could only rise to the rank of Inspector of Police and were not considered a part of the Indian Imperial Police.

From 1920 onwards, Indians were allowed to be a part of the Indian Imperial Police and the competitive exam for the same was held in London and India.

From 1907, officers in this force were directed to wear the letters “I.P” on their epaulettes to distinguish them from officers who were not recruited by the competitive exam by the Secretary of State.

In 1917, the label Indian Police Service was first referred to in a report by the Islington Commission.

In 1932, the name changed to just Indian Police.

In 1948, in an independent India the Imperial Police was formally replaced by the Indian Police Service (IPS).

Also read | A Brief History of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS)

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