Indian Imperial Police

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

In 1920 the Imperial Indian police had 310,000 police in their contingent

Its members ruled more than 300 million people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma (then comprising British Raj).

In 1948, a year after India's independence from Britain, the Imperial Police Service 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]

The highest rank in the service was the Inspector General[3] for each province. The rank of Inspector General[4] was equated and ranked with Brigadier[4] and similar ranks in the Indian Armed Forces, as per Central Warrant of Precedence in 1937.[lower-alpha 1][4] After the Inspector General, the ranks were made up of District Superintendents and Assistant District Superintendents, most of whom were appointed, from 1893, by examination for the Indian Civil Service 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 exercised "unprecedented degree of authority within the colonial administration".[5] The Indian Imperial Police was also the primary law enforcement in Burma, governed as a province of India,[6] until 1937.

Ranks of the Imperial (India) Police


George Orwell, under his real name of Eric Blair, served in the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma, from October 1920 to December 1927,[7] 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.",[8] in "Shooting an Elephant" (1936),[9] 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."[6]

See also


  1. Maheshwari, S. R. (2001) Indian Administration (Sixth Edition), p. 306. Orient Blackswan. At Google Books. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  2. "Indian Police Services" British Library. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  3. Shahidullah, Shahid M. Comparative Criminal Justice Systems. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2012. ISBN 9781449604257.
  4. "A worrisome slide in Army's status". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  5. Arnold, David (1992) "Police Power and the Demise of British Rule in India, 1930 – 47" in David Anderson, David Killingray, Policing and Decolonisation: Politics, Nationalism, and the Police, 1917-65, pp. 42–61. Manchester University Press, 1992 At Google Books. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  6. Crick, Bernard (2004) "Blair, Eric Arthur [George Orwell] (1903–1950)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  7. Orwell, George (2009) Diaries, p. 1., edited by Peter Davison. Harvill Secker, London.
  8. Stansky, Peter (1994) The Unknown Orwell: Orwell, the Transformation, pp. 192–201. Stanford University Press. At Google Books. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  9. Villiers, Peter (2011) Leading from Example: A Short Guide to the Lessons of Literature, p. 98. Triarchy Press Limited At Google Books. Retrieved 13 August 2013.


  1. The rank of IGP is ranked and equated with the rank of Brigadier / equivalent rank of the Indian Armed Forced as per Warrant of Precedence – 1937, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs' directions contained in Letter No 12/11/99-Pub II dated 26 Dec 1966. This Warrant of Precedence is compiled from a joint consideration of the existing Central Warrant of Precedence (which is till the rank of Major General) and Warrant of Precedence – 1937, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs' directions contained in Letter No 12/11/99-Pub II dated 26 Dec 1966, the validity of which has been confirmed by Letter No 12/1/2007-Public dated 14 Aug 2007. The MHA has confirmed in 2007 that the Old Warrant of Precedence shall be taken as a guide to determine ranks below the ones mentioned in the current WoP.


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