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The Nine Principles of Policing

When people discuss policing, they will often talk about the ‘Peelian Principles’. This article looks at their origins.
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The Nine ‘Peelian Principles’

The modern police service in this country is generally regarded as being founded when Sir Robert Peel was appointed as Home Secretary and the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 established a full-time professional police force for the Greater London area.

Peel’s vision for police reform

Peel skilfully negotiated approval from the government at the time and sought to ensure that his force would be neither paramilitary nor political. Underpinning Peel’s vision for police reform was a series of nine policing principles (Although Peel gets the credit these principles may have actually been drawn up by his first two commissioners of police Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne).

To secure further acceptance from the public that it was not simply a military or unit or political tool, it adopted its own rank and structure were all officers were constables, and it would remain under local control.

All officers would wear a blue uniform and top hat and be armed with only a wooden truncheon and rattle. Based in New Scotland yard, these men quickly took the nickname Bobbies or Peelers.

What are the ‘Peelian Principles’?

Peel created a vision for policing and at the heart of his vision was a police service that focused on crime prevention rather than punishment and one derived not from fear but exclusively from public cooperation.

The foundation underpinning this philosophy was his nine principles of policing.

  1. “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
  2. “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
  3. “Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”
  4. “The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
  5. “Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
  6. “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”
  7. “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and 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. “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
  9. “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

The ‘Peelian Principles’ are often upheld as the cornerstone of policing in this country and are considered as relevant today as they were in 1829.

© ulaw
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