Remember The Peelian Principles?

Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 03:17 pm

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The modern day Police Service was the innovation of Sir Robert Peel, as we all well know.

Broadly speaking there are 9 Peelian Principles on which Policing in the UK is based, and owes its heritage to. They are:-

  • 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 fulfill 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 life.
  • 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.

Sir Robert, God bless him, summed his new Police Force up in this way

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.

In no way do I disagree with this, it is the bedrock on which ‘Policing by Consent’ is built. Being a bit of a traditionalist, it has stood the test of time, and is still the perfect foundation for Policing in the UK.

Until now.

In a Twitter conversation with the College of Policing today, they described, for my benefit, how their Graduate Entry Scheme will work.

Whichever way you slice it, eventually, the Police Service of England and Wales will be 100% Graduates, or Apprentices who need to obtain a Degree before they can pass their Probation. It will take a few years, but if the College of Policing get their way (and currently they have) it is inevitable.

What has that got to do with Peel and his Principles you may ask.

The answer to that depends on how much value you attach to “The police are the public and the public are the police”

The latest estimates indicate that only 42% of the adult population (16-64) had a Degree in any subject. This figure from the Office of National Statistics.

Less than 50% of the population hold a degree but we now expect 100% of our Police Service to either hold, or obtain, a Degree.

How does that sit with Sir Robert Peel’s vision of a Police Force, sorry, Service?

We are in danger of breaking away from the Peelian Principles and creating some kind of elite Police Service. Is that what ‘the public’ really wants.

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