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Botswana Police Service
General Background
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General Background

Historically the Botswana Police Service dates back to over 100 years to the early days of Bechuanaland. Initially called the Bechuanaland Mounted Police, before becoming the Bechuanaland Border Police, Bechuanaland Protectorate Police, Botswana Police Force and later the Botswana Police Service, the organisation was perceived as an unnecessary intrusion into people’s lives.  Traditionally, law enforcement had always been the responsibility of the chiefs and headmen and, perhaps not surprisingly, people questioned the need for a European model of policing.

We evolved into a Police Force modelled very much on colonial lines. Many of the senior officers, who were all whites in those early days, came from a military background. One of our roles was to perform military duties in defence of the country because there was no defence force at independence until 1977 when the Botswana Defence Force was formed. Some of our working practices and procedures still reflect this military background. 

Batswana have moved from a society thats fearful of the police to that which readily embraces its Police Service, but readily corrects it if it commits transgressions by advocating for the punishment of those responsible for such transgression. The Botswana cannot avoid daily interactions with the community, any of which may result in a complaint or government being sued. It is indeed a very complex environment within which Botswana Police operates. It is an environment challenging and demanding the best of the police. Unless the Police Service recognises, appreciate and accept this environment we are likely to commit serious omissions that may render the police irrelevant.

Crime has risen considerably since independence from 9 060 in 1966 to 267 962 in 2006. Equally, the population of Botswana has also grown significantly from 535 000 to 1.6 million in 2001. The strength of the Police Service has stood at 766 officers. Today it has risen significantly to over 6 000.The rising levels of crime is a source of concern for Botswana. The emergence of organised crime in the form of white-collar and theft of motor vehicles are common features of this era. However, the detection and disposal of these cases is pleasing. This has the effect of reassuring the people of Botswana that the country is safe.

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