Peel's Principles of Law Enforcement

Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Law Enforcement 1829

Sir Robert Peel is said to be the father of modern democratic policing.  In 1829 he created the Metropolitan Police in London, England, and along with it proposed the principles under which they would become efficient in maintaining safety and security within the community under the law.  

Painting of Sir Robert Peel

These nine (9) principles were so intuitive at the time, and obviously based on some significant thought on the topic, that they have remained as the main ingredient for police success over the last two centuries in all democratic countries across the world.  Police leaders top down still use and quote them frequently as good reminders of "community policing" and the reasons we exist.  

Note the following themes which are so crucially important for our success:  crime prevention, community trust and engagement, reasonable force is a last resort, impartiality without favour, never above the law, the police are the public and the public are the police, efficiency through crime prevention.

  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 favor 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.

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