Principles of Good Policing

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Principles of Good Policing

Postby GOSA » Thu, 2007-07-05 07:32

Principles of Good Policing

The following set of principles, which lay out in the clearest
and most succinct terms the philosophy of policing by consent,
appeared as an appendix to A New Study of Police History by
Charles Reith (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1956). Reith was a
lifelong historian of the police force in Britain, and this book
covers the early years of Metropolitan Police following the
passage of Sir Robert Peel's 'Bill for Improving the Police in
and near the Metropolis' on 19 June 1829. Reith notes that there
are particular problems involved in writing police history,
owing to the loss or destruction of much early archive material,
and, probably for this reason, the principles appear without
details of author or date.

However, it seems most likely that they were composed by Charles
Rowan and Richard Mayne, as the first and joint Commissioners of
the Metropolitan Police. Rowan was a military man and Mayne,
fourteen years his junior, a barrister. Rowan retired in 1850
leaving Mayne as sole Commissioner until his death in 1868. The
sentiments expressed in the 'Nine Principles' reflect those
contained in the 'General Instructions', first published in
1829, which were issued to every member of the Metropolitan
Police, especially the emphasis on prevention of crime as the
most important duty of the police.

Reith notes that Rowan and Mayne's conception of a police force
was 'unique in history and throughout the world because it
derived not from fear but almost exclusively from public co-
operation with the police, induced by them designedly by
behaviour which secures and maintains for them the approval,
respect and affection of the public' (p. 140).

The Nine Principles of Policing

1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their
repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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

9. 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.
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