Indian Imperial Police

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The Indian Imperial Police, referred to variously as the Indian (Imperial) Police or simply the Indian Police or, by 1905,[1] Imperial Police (IP), was part of the Indian Police Services (IPS), the uniform system of police administration in British India, as established by India Act 5 of 1861.

In 1948, a year after India's independence from Britain, the Imperial Police Service (IPS) was replaced by the Indian Police Service, which had been constituted as part of the All-India Services by the Constitution.[1]

It comprised two branches, the Superior Police Services, from which the Indian (Imperial) Police would later be formed, and the Subordinate Police Service. Until 1893, appointments to the senior grades (i.e., Assistant District Superintendent and above) were made locally in India, mainly from European officers of the Indian Army.[2]

Hierarchically, the upper échelon, headed by an Inspector General for each province, was made up of District Superintendents and Assistant District Superintendents (ADS), most of whom were appointed, from 1893, by examination for the Indian Civil Service (ICS) exams in the UK. The Subordinate Police Service consisted of Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors, Head Constables (or Sergeant in the City forces and cantonments) and Constables, mainly consisting of Indians except for the higher ranks.[2]

By the 1930s, the Indian Police "unprecedented degree of authority within the colonial administration".[3]

The Indian Imperial Police was also the primary law enforcement in Burma, governed as a province of India,[4] until 1937.


George Orwell, as Eric Blair, served in the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma, from October 1920 to December 1927,[5] eventually resigning while on leave in England, having attained the rank of Assistant District Superintendent at District Headquarters, first in Insein, and later at Moulmein. He wrote of how having been in contact with, in his own words, "the dirty work of Empire at close quarters" had affected his personal, political and social outlook. Some of the works referring to his experiences include "A Hanging" (1931), set in the notorious Insein Prison, and his novel Burmese Days (1934). Likewise, although he wrote that, "I loved Burma and the Burman and have no regrets that I spent the best years of my life in the Burma police.",[6] in "Shooting an Elephant" (1936),[7] he pointed out that "In Moulmein in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people–the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me."[4]


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