Early Roots of Policing: Sir Robert Peel's (1820s) Nine Principles and Their Connection to Modern

Topics: Police, Robert Peel, Constable Pages: 8 (2459 words) Published: August 28, 2010
Early roots of policing: Sir Robert Peel’s (1820s) nine principles and their connection to modern day policing

Sir Robert Peel is known in the history books as the person who created the first form of an English police department, called the London Metropolitan Police. However, the first acknowledgement of any sort of police department or criminal justice system occurred 1000 years earlier by the English King Alfred the Great. King Alfred the Great came up with this idea when he was preparing himself for an invasion by the Danes. The King established a system of mutual pledge, which was a form of society control. This system allowed the citizens to come together to protect each other and at the same time created an organized and controlled atmosphere for a police system in England.

Sir Peel based-his idea of creating the London Metropolitan Police department on the 1828 Colquhoun. By Sir Peel being a big influence on the Metropolitan Police Act, the bill passed in 1829. This established the largest incentive in London’s police force. Police departments in the United States have adopted Peel’s model. Sir Peel’s mission in creating his police force was to grasp a control on crime. Crime prevention reflected the utilitarian idea, which it is better to prevent crime than to respond after the fact. Sir Peel influenced by the military. He implemented the military’s organizational structure such as their uniforms, rank designations, and the authoritarian system of command and discipline. This same military approach is still one of the major assets currently embraced in today’s policing.

Although Sir Peel is the founder to modern policing, he was not a police officer himself. Sir Peel guided the London’s police department with “Peel’s nine principles.” The nine principles focuses on what Sir Peel core values of what a police officer should be. Sir Peel also introduced three elements, which became the basis for modern policing: mission statement, strategy, and organizational structure. Most police departments if not all have their core values stated within their mission statements.

Sir Peel’s nine principles basically address the following: crime prevention, public approval, physical force, and community policing. The first principle crime prevention addressed establishing a police presence and which he did. He called them “Bobbies,” an early version today’s modernized police officers. The main purpose was specifically to patrol the neighborhoods to decrease crime. Sir Peel stated “the basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder” (Dempsey & Forst, 2008, 2005, p. 329).

Principles two and three deal with seeking the public approval. Sir Peel stated that the “ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions and they 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 public” (Dempsey & Forst, 2008, 2005, p. 329).

According to (Hennigan, Maxson, & Slonance, 2002) the United States Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs National Institute of Justice research shows that police can improve public opinion by increasing their informal contacts with citizens. According to a survey of Los Angeles residents’ opinions of police job performance and officers’ demeanor, police can increase residents’ approval of their job performance by participating in community meetings, increasing officers’ visibility in neighborhoods, and talking with citizens.

Four, five and six principles addresses the use of physical force. Sir Peel explains that the use of physical force should be only used when nothing else has worked to restore order. In today’s society excessive force has been a public concern and also difficulty in regaining the public’s trust. It is a given fact that most if not all crimes are solve by the help of the public and gaining the...
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