The Police of Gambia is the main law enforcement agency in Gambia. Under the Ministry of the Interior, the force is headed by a Police Inspector General. The current size of the force is 5,000 uniformed and plainclothes officers.
Policing in the Gambia was first introduced in 1855 by her Majesty’s Government. The body which was then called the river police was charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order, suppression of rebellion in the territory, and prevention of smuggling both at sea and land.
By 1870 all imperial troops left the Gambia and were replaced by armed forces of 100 Soldiers to be called the West African Frontier Force (WAFF). WAFF was charged with the defense of our territorial integrity, provide escort to the Governor and to suppress rebellious tribes.
The River Police, for most of its early days consists of both Gambians alike, but for the greater part, it was headed by officers from Britain. The first heads of the Gambia Police Force were as follows: Mr. Collins, Mr. Maiden, Mr. Eates and John bray.
Harry Lloyd Evans was the first Gambian to head the Gambia police force in 1966,and in 1968 he was designated Inspector General of police (IGP). Notwithstanding, some Gambians also rose through the ranks to both senior and middle management positions during this period. The first highest ranking Gambian officers are:
- ASP Peter Williams based at the Force Headquarters from 1935-55
- ASP Sam Lusack, later redeployed to prisons from 1935-62
- Inspector DodouLette, “A” Division from 1935-62
- Inspector AbdouKarim John, Intelligence & War surveillance 1938-42
- Inspector Dodoumatarr Njie In charge of war Propaganda and recruitment of Gambian soldiers to be enlisted for Burma.
Transformation from River police to Gambia Police Force
Prior to 1888, the Gambia and Sierra Leone used to have one governor and the office of the governor at the time was in Sierra Leone. The Gambia was overseen by Lieutenant governor. This state of affairs charged in 1888 when her majesty’s Government separated the administration of the two colonies and appointed a governor for the Governor for the Gambia.
Separate administrative institutions were established including the River police which later became Gambia Police Force. The police mandate was also redefined to cater for the specific needs of the colonial master. Their primary responsibility was to protect the Governor, and the Administration, in addition to their traditional policing duties of maintaining law and order.