Saturday, August 1, 2009

Robert Peel's Legacy: Part 1

The Nine Principles of Policing

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel created the Metropolitan Police in London when he served as Home Secretary of England (the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State). Sir Robert would later go on to be elected Prime Minster and serve two different terms. According to Peel, the real key for policing is "the police are the people and the people are the police". Peel believed that prevention of crime could be accomplished without intruding into the lives of citizens. With the development of the Metropolitan Police, Peel and his first Commissioners, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, established nine principles to his theory of policing. These nine principles are as relevant today as they were in the 1800's.

1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.


  • Peel was considered by some to be the best Home Secretary Britain ever had.
  • Peel's view of policing, and the execution of that view by Rowan and Mayne was so unique in the world that their combined legacy and impact has lasted through the following 180 years.
  • "Principles of Good Policing", Civitas.
  • "Law Enforcement: Sir Robert Peel's Concept of Community Policing in Today's Society", Associated Content.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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