The Principles of Policing

by rogerclowater

Sir Robert Peel was supposedly the architect of modern day policing. In 1855 he proposed a Bill in the British Parliament that was supposed to improve the level of Policing the residents of London were receiving. Some historians might argue that he was never the author of these principles. I don’t think there is any argument they were revised by Sir Robert Mayne in 1829.

Take a moment to read the nine principles and ask yourself the question: “How well are we living up to them”?

  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.

Learning to teach in the Police Foundations / Law Enforcement Program at The National Academy of Health and Business I have had to revisit my career many times. Reviewing the 25 years I served with the Saint John Police Force and The Department of the Solicitor General on secondment has had me deconstructing my experiences. I am trying to bring an unbiased approach to the recent and not so recent events that have occurred. When you look back at events as they transpired, the Los Angles riots, Newark and others up to today and the perception of heavy handedness by police will we ever be able to turn this thing around?

I hope we can for the sake of the Police Profession, for those affected and the students I teach. My purpose is to instil in my students that we receive the right to Police the community from the community. When we have the support of the public we will be safer than without it.