The nine principles
by Sir Robert Peel
- The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
- The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public
approval of police actions.
- Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary
observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the
- The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes
proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
- Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion
but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
- 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.
- 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
- Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions
and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
- The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not
the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
These principles listed above may have been Sir
Robert Peels principles. However, the Metropolitan Polices founding
principles and, de facto the founding principles of all other modern
(post 1829) UK police forces, was summarised by Sir Richard Mayne (the first
commissioner) in 1829 in the following terms:
principles by Sir Richard Mayne
- To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression
by military force and severity of legal punishment.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In a broad sense these principles were continued to be taught until the time
of Sir Robert Mark when he introduced his little blue book in
of Sir Robert Mark
The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime:
the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed.
To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of
life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence
of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and
whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.
Mark does go on though to make the point that the above is done with the
consent of the public and is not done by way of imposing on the public.
Since Sir Robert Mark every commissioner has had his own set of principles,
for instance Sir Peter Imbert had The Plus Program and so on.
Notwithstanding the generality of my last comment, poster versions of Sir
Richard Maynes principles could still be seen within the Met Police
Training school as late as the early 1990s (for historical purposes).
- Sir Robert Peel, 1788 1855.
In 1855, Peel proposed a Bill, that became law, entitled Bill for
Improving the Police in and near the Metropolis, which became the
basis for modern policing. Because many early police archives have been
destroyed, it is not certain that Peel did compose these nine principles.