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Peel's bobbies


I have a special interest in the police since I was once assaulted on the street and was consequently forced "to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen" as Robert Peel puts it.

Robert Peel was a cool man whose smile resembled “moonlight playing on a tombstone.” On 29 September 1829 he established the Metropolitan Police as a civilian force with clear principles and limits.

The public was concerned that the police might be repressive. Peel made certain that the "bobbies" served the people and were not an arm of the Government, as would be the case in a police state.

Peel's essential principles of policing -

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 co-operation 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 co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to 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.

These are not only essential police principles; they are an indictment of the present British Government. It has helped to create a country in which crime is neither solved nor prevented and a citizen assaulted in his home or on the street may actually have to defend his right to defend himself to the police.

A man like Peel would know what to do.