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Peel's Principles

Peel’s Principles begin with, “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder”.  Peel, in an attempt to develop a modern police force in London during the 1820’s developed his principles based on, what he believed were the fundamental purposes of a police force and further what he believed was best for the community.  At a time when crime was rampant in the city of London, Peel believed that by separating the police from the judiciary, modern police forces could become more effective and efficient at deterring and adjudicating crime.  “An important factor in Peel’s plan was the separation of policing and the judiciary.  Peel felt that the police should be responsible for one facet of the law, that being the prosecution phase.  The trial, conviction and punishment phase would be placed in the hands of the judiciary.  This concept remains virtually unchanged today”.

Peel's Principles

Attempting to gain some insight for the radical changes in policing that were undertaken by Peel, it becomes clear that the Peel had long been a supporter of reform within the criminal justice system.  According to an author when Peel took the position of Home Secretary in Liverpool’s cabinet in 1822, his main objective was to pass legislation aimed at reforming and restructuring the criminal justice system in England.  Between 1822 and 1827, Peel passed eight pieces of legislation in order to accomplish this goal.  While the passing of each piece of legislation brought incremental changes to the criminal justice system, no one piece of rhetoric was more developed or well planned than the presentation of his nine principles.

Looking at Peel’s history with the Home Secretary it is clear that the legislator’s greatest disappointment arose form his proposal of a House of Commons Select Committee that could investigate policing in London.  Although the legislature had initially granted Peel the right to undertake this project, in June of 1822 the committee reported to Peel that “an effective system of policing could not be reconciled with a free society”.  Peel was upset by the committee’s recommendation and continued to work on the development of a civilian police force.

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