Royal Bhutan Police

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Coordinates: 27°27′54.7″N 89°38′25.6″E / 27.465194°N 89.640444°E / 27.465194; 89.640444

Royal Bhutan Police
Buthan police.png
Patch of the Royal Bhutan Police
Motto Truth, Service & Security
Agency overview
Formed 1951 A.D. (2007 B.S.)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Legal jurisdiction  Bhutan
Primary governing body Royal Government of Bhutan
Secondary governing body Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (Bhutan)
Constituting instrument Royal Bhutan Police Act, 2009
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Thimpu, Bhutan
Agency executive Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, Chief of Police

The Royal Bhutan Police (Dzongkha: རྒྱལ་གཞུང་འབྲུག་གི་འགག་སྡེ་; gyal-kashung druk-ki kak-de) is responsible for maintaining law and order and prevention of crime in Bhutan.[1] It was formed on 1 September 1965 with 555 personnel reassigned from the Royal Bhutan Army.[2] It was then called the "Bhutan Frontier Guards." Its independent statutory basis was first codified with the Royal Bhutan Police Act of 1980. This framework was repealed and replaced in its entirety by the Royal Bhutan Police Act of 2009.[3]

Royal Bhutan Police[edit]

In addition to law enforcement, the mandate of the Royal Bhutan Police has grown since Act of 2009 to include managing prisons, facilitating youth development and rehabilitation, and disaster management.[nb 1]

The Act of 2009 provides the Royal Bhutan Police a substantive and procedural framework for jurisdictions, powers arrest (with and without warrant), investigation, prosecution, search and seizure, summoning witnesses, and regulating public assembly and public nuisance.[nb 2] It also codifies a framework for receiving complaints from the public.[nb 3]

The police are authorized to use force to "quell a disturbance of the peace, or to disperse an unlawful assembly, which either refused to disperse or shows a determination not to disperse," however the use of force must be limited as "as much as possible" using "the least deadly weapon which the circumstances permit."[nb 4] Non-lethal measures required before lethal force may be used include water cannons, tear smoke, riot batons, and rubber pellets; shooting live ammunition into crowds is authorized only after firing warning shots into the air.[nb 5]

The Act of 2009 includes a code of conduct, duties, special duties during elections and disasters, and prohibition against engaging in political activities.[nb 6] It also regulates firearms for both police and civilians, requiring registration of private firearms with the police.[nb 7]

Ranks and designations[edit]

Traffic police in Thimphu. There are no stop lights or traffic signals in all of Bhutan.

The Act of 2009 establishes the following ranks and designations:[nb 8]

  1. gagpoen, the Chief of Police
  2. Thrimdang Chichhab, the Additional and Deputy Chiefs of Police
  3. Thrimdag Gongma, the Senior Superintendents of Police, Field and Special Divisions
  4. Thrimdag Wogma, the Superintendents of Police, Field and Special Divisions
  5. Dungda, the Additional Superintendents of Police, Field and Special Divisions
  6. Yongzin, Officer Commanding, Police Stations (commissioned officer)
  7. Dechhab, Officer Commanding, Police Stations (commissioned officer)
  8. Gopoen Lopjongpa, Officer Probationer
  9. Jugpoen Gongma, Officer In charge/In charge (junior commissioned or non-commissioned officer)
  10. Jugpoen, Officer In charge/In charge (junior commissioned or non-commissioned officer)
  11. Jungpoen Wogma, Officer In charge/In charge (junior commissioned or non-commissioned officer)
  12. Juglop Gongma, In charge (junior commissioned or non-commissioned officer)
  13. Juglop, In charge (junior commissioned or non-commissioned officer)
  14. Quilop Gongma
  15. Quilop
  16. Denkul
  17. Gopa
  18. Gagpa (constables)

The Chief of Police and Additional and Deputy Chiefs of Police are appointed by the Druk Gyalpo from among a list of names recommended by the Prime Minister, from among the list submitted by the Police Service board based on seniority, qualification, and capability.[nb 9] Any other appointments above, as well as directors of Training Institutes, are appointed by the Chief of Police on recommendation of the Police Service Board.[nb 10]

The Chief of Police is empowered with wide discretion in the command of the Royal Bhutan Police, including budgetary matters; policy decisions; promotions, awards, and punishments on the advice of the Service Board; issuing orders on anything relating to Police activities; and delegating his powers as he may think expedient.[nb 11] He reports to the Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs.

Officers Commanding and Officers In charge of police stations submit daily and other regular reports to Superintendents of Police, who in turn submit similar reports to Police Headquarters in Thimphu.[nb 12] At both levels, authorities keep extensive registers and diaries of convictions, cases, seizures, arrests, absconders, custody, and town and village information.[nb 13] Officers Commanding and Officers In charge must also provide similar reports to authorities on the Dzongkhag and Dungkhag levels.[nb 14]


The Investigation Bureau operates directly under the Chief of Police to collect intelligence and information relating to criminal and subversive activities against the Tsa-Wa-Sum and is headed by the Deputy Chief (IB)[nb 15]

The National Central Bureau located at the Police Headquarters liaises with other Interpol member countries and Sub-Regional Bureaus. It assists the Investigation Bureau.[nb 16]

Field and special divisions[edit]

Field divisions are the various police divisions in the Dzongkhags.[nb 17] The Special Police Divisions under the Additional Chief of Police are at par with the Field Divisions and are headed by Superintendents of Police or by Directors. The Special Divisions established by the Act of 2009 are:[nb 18]

The Chief of Police may, in his discretion, recommend to the Royal Government for the ration and abolition of divisions, police stations, check-posts, out-posts, and other units.[nb 19]

Prisons in Bhutan[edit]

Under the Royal Bhutan Police Act of 2009 and the Prison Act of 2009, the Prison Services Division is responsible for maintaining and administering the prisons of Bhutan. There are 21 prisons in the country: one in each dzongkhag for those punished for up to third degree felonies, plus Central Prison (Tshoenkhang Yoema) for those who commit first or second degree felonies. There are also Youth Development and Rehabilitation Centres for juvenile (under age 18) convicts. The Division personnel consist of a senior superintendent, superintendent, and additional superintendent; officers in charge of the central (national) and dzongkhag prisons; prison wardens and guards; and medical officers. Personnel begin as police, undergo training in prison administration at government-run Training Institutes, and occupy their posts for two year terms. Under the Prison Act, the police chief, in consultation with the Minister of Home Affairs, may declare "any house, building, enclosure or place, or any part thereof" to be a prison or reformative training centre.[4]

Prisoners themselves are categorized as "civil prisoners," criminal prisoners, prisoners charged under the National Security Act, and military personnel convicted in military court. Detainees are classed as those under criminal investigation, detainees under trial, and other detainees "as directed by court for civil cases." Populations of civil, criminal, and political prisoners are to be separated from each other while inside. Prisoners may wear their own clothing, subject to a dress code, and may even raise children on prison grounds through age nine. Prisoners are allowed spousal conjugal visits, provided female prisoners agree to prevent conception. These benefits are balanced by six-day weeks of hard labour within the prisons, imposed on all but juveniles, the physically and mentally infirm, political prisoners, and prisoners with pending trials.[4]

Royal Bhutan Police Service Board[edit]

Under the Act of 2009, the Royal Bhutan Police Service Board formulates policies, rules, regulations, and guidelines for the police concerning organization; administration; staffing; promotion, classification, and grading of services; higher or continuing policing education; performance evaluation and appraisal; development of efficient police process; Police Suppor Selection Examinations; Police Support Cadre Selection Procedures; and police office and material management.[nb 20] All policies, Service Rules, and regulations formulated and decided by the Board are submitted to the Chief of Police for endorsement and for submission to the Home and Cultural Affairs Minister for approval.[nb 21]

The Royal Bhutan Police Service Board consists of eleven members appointed by the Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs upon recommendation of the Chief of Police. Its members include Additional Chief of Police (Chair); the Head of the Law and Order Bureau within the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs; one Deputy Chief of Police (Member Secretary); one Senior Superintendent of Police; one director of the Police Training Institutes; two Superintendents of Police from Field Divisions; two Superintendents of Police from the Special Division; one Additional Superintendent of Police from the Field Division; and one Officer Commanding of the Police Station not below the rank of Yongzin. The first two are permanent members; all others serve two-year terms with a limit of two consecutive terms.[nb 22]

History of the Royal Bhutan Police[edit]

The Royal Bhutan Police was formed on 1 September 1965 with 555 personnel reassigned from the Royal Bhutan Army,[5] and had grown to over 1,000 by the late 1970s.[6] Since its establishment, Indian police advisers and instructors have been used. Starting in 1975, Bhutanese instructors, trained in India for one year, began training recruits at the Zilnon Namgyeling Police Training Centre. Advanced training for selected police officers in fields such as criminology, traffic control, and canine corps has taken place in India and other countries. In 1988, following specialized training in India, a female second lieutenant established a fingerprint bureau in Thimphu. Besides having access to training at the Indian Police Academy in Hyderabad, some students were also sent to the Police Executive Development Course in Singapore.[7]

Besides performing their standard police functions, members of the Royal Bhutan Police also served as border guards and firefighters and provided first aid. In 1975, in response to the increased number of traffic accidents resulting from the development of roads and the increase number of motor vehicles, the police established an experimental mobile traffic court staff with Royal Bhutan Police personnel and a judicial official to make on-the-spot legal decisions.[7]

On September 19, 2005 Bhutan became a member of Interpol. Interpol maintains a National Central Bureau at Royal Bhutan Police headquarters in Thimphu.[8]

As of 2005, recruits were trained at the Police Training Centers in Zilnon Namgyeling - Thimphu, Jigmeling - Gelephu and Tashigatshel - Chukha. A nine-month basic training course for constables included physical exercise and drills, weapons training, martial arts (taekwondo), law, public relations, riot control, investigation techniques, check post duties, traffic control, VIP escort and driglam namzha. An additional six week course provided scientific investigation techniques, photography, administration, accounting, canine handling and other related subjects. A six-week refresher course was also conducted.[5][7][9]

Selected officers were sent for basic and advanced training abroad. In India, Royal Bhutan Police officers were trained at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad and the Punjab Police Academy. Officers were sent to Australia to specialise in DNA analysis and other advanced techniques of forensic science.[10] Officers have also attended a Police Executive Development course in Singapore.[9]

The Organization of Royal Bhutan Police[edit]

Royal Bhutan Police Act 2009[edit]

Organisation and structure under the Act of 1980[edit]

In 1991, the Royal Bhutan Police was organizationally subordinate to the Royal Bhutan Army and under the command of Major General Lam Dorji, who was also chief of operations of the army, holding the title inspector general or commandant. There were police headquarters in each district and subdistrict.[7] In 1991, the police was headed by the Chief of Police under whom there are commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, and constables.[7] In April 2008, the Chief of Police was Maksi Gom (Colonel) Kipchu Namgyel.[11]

The headquarters of the Royal Bhutan Police in Thimphu was divided into three branches directly under the Chief of Police:[9]

The Royal Bhutan Police structures districts into "ranges" which are under the administrative control of "range police officers." A "district police officer" heads the police force in a district. There are a number of police stations, outposts, and checkpoints in a district and the highest-ranked officer is usually designated the Officer-in-Charge of that particular area.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 124–125
  2. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 68–78, 90–113
  3. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 86–89
  4. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 79–80
  5. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 81–84
  6. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 39–44
  7. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 63–67
  8. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 16, 211
  9. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 18
  10. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 3–9
  11. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 21–23, 180–189, 195–196
  12. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 45
  13. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 49–58
  14. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 59
  15. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 116
  16. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 117
  17. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 211
  18. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 118–129
  19. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 17
  20. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 30
  21. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶ 38
  22. ^ Police Act 2009: ¶¶ 27–29


  1. ^ "The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan" (PDF). Government of Bhutan. 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2010-10-08.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  2. ^ "History of Royal Bhutan Police". Royal Bhutan Police. 
  3. ^ "Royal Bhutan Police Act 2009" (PDF). Government of Bhutan. 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Prison Act of Bhutan 2009" (PDF). Government of Bhutan. 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  5. ^ a b Wangchuk, Rinzin (2005-01-06). "RBP Inducts 295 Recruits". Kuensel. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  6. ^ "Bhutan". International Business Publications, USA. 2002. p. 83. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Worden, Robert L.; Savada, Andrea Matles (ed.) (1991). "Police Force". Bhutan: Country Studies (3rd ed.). Federal Research Division, United States Library of Congress. ISBN 0-8444-0777-1. Retrieved 2010-10-02.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Dorji, Kinley Y. (2005-10-05). "Interpol will increase the Bhutan Police's reach". Kuensel. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Police Profile, Background and Demographics". World Police Encyclopedia. 1. Taylor & Francis. 2006. p. 99. 
  10. ^ "Police recruits 33 graduates". Kuensel. 2 May 2004. Archived from the original on 5 November 2006. 
  11. ^ "Chief of Police". Kuensel. 23 April 2008. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011.