Brief background of the Zambia Correctional Service

Though the Zambia Correctional Service was born at independence day, its origin is deep rooted into the colonial era, first under the Northern Rhodesia police force, then under the office of the Attorney General in 1912, later in 1927, back to the Police and finally, as an independent Service in 1947 following the Prison Ordinance and regulations of 1947. This is how it evolved:


The history of the Zambia Correctional Service is inherited from the colonial police force called the Northern Rhodesia Police Force which was established in 1899

In 1899, the British government issued the Barotseland- North-Western Order-In-Council which gave the BSA company authority to govern North-Western Rhodesia. It was this order which provided for the establishment of a police force called the Barotse Native Police.

The growth of the BSA CO’s scope of operations towards the far North- East brought with it some elements of administrative challenges that necessitated the division of the region into two: the North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia, which was administered by a man named Robert Codrington.

This necessitated the formation of another police that would policy the newly created territory (North- Eastern Rhodesia).

 In 1900, the North- Eastern Rhodesia Order-In-Council, which among other things defined the area, was formulated.

This order also provided for the establishment of a police Force called the North-Eastern Rhodesia Constabulary which was to perform the same duties as the Barotse Native Police.

The earliest reference to prisons in the archives dates back to 13th October 1904 and is contained in a letter written by Henry Rangeley, magistrate of North-Western Rhodesia to the administrator of the territory, suggesting that an Order-In-Council be enacted to repeal the Colonial Prisoner’s Removal Act of 1884, from the territory to Southern Rhodesia as the territpory did not have enough prison facilities.

Before the hatching of the Prisons Service, the Police Force performed an additional role of conveyance and safe custody of prisoners in their police lock- ups alongside the maintenance of law and order.

In 1912, the management of prisons  was placed under the office of the Atonney General in an effort to reoganise management of prisons.

However, in 1923, the Assistant Attorney General, proposed that his office be relieved from the responsibility of administering prisons and prison system to be reorganized to have an independent Prisons Service.

His proposals ended up seeng the responsibility of managing prisons be taken back to the police force and this came in 1927 followed by the minor amendments of the Prison Ordinance and Rules of 1912.   

The title ‘Commissioner of Prisons’ was formulated in 1931 with Captain P.R Wardroper becoming the first holder of this title. Remember that the Prisons were still under the toils of the Police Force.

In 1938  Mr T.C. Fynn, Secretary to the then Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) Department of Justice and Director of Prisons was invited to assess how possible it was to establish an independent Prisons Service in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).

His strong recommendation to  re-organise prison administration and to separte prisons from police convinced the colonial government which quickly acted upon the matter.

In 1942, the first independent Commissioner of Prisons in the name of R.L. Worsely was appointed.

In 1947, the Prisons Ordinance and Rules and the final constitution of the  Prisons Department’s separation from the Northern Rhodesia Police Force were enacted

The foregoing neccesited the birth of the Northern Rhodesia Prisons Service.

The formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953 meant that prisons Services of these teritories were also to be merged hence the federal prisons untill 1963

The end of this consortium saw the name reverting back to Northern Rhodesia Prisons Service till 24th October 1964 with its headquarters in Broken Hill (now Kabwe)  at Coronation Flats, with  O.V Garrat  as Commissioner.


In 2015 and 2016, the Service once again underwent two major administrative changes.  In 2015, the Service’s Command Structure was upgraded with its head elevated to the rank of Commissioner General from the rank of Commissioner. Further, in 2016, the Service’s name was changed from Zambia Prisons Service to Zambia Correctional Service following the enactment of the Constitution Amendment Act no. 2 of 2016 which was assented to on 5th January 2016 by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. In the same year, the Service’s head office was moved to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city, before moved back to Kabwe in January 2019 following government’s directive.

In a nutshell, Zambia Correctional Service, the forerunner of the Zambia Prisons Service, was borne at Independence Day, with its origin deep rooted into the colonial era.