black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

Any discussion of principles in Criminal Justice Law would not be complete without a discussion of the Principles of Policing.


Of course, the father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, played a key role in developing the principles upon which most modern police forces are built. But his principles are not the totality of principles in use by police agencies today. Indeed, there are a number of additional principles, often wrongly attributed to Sir Robert Peel, which play a role in how police conduct their duties. In this section, we will consider the efficacy of the principles themselves.


The Nine Core Principles as Developed by Peel (Lee, 1901)


1. The Prime Mission of police is Crime Prevention

2. Public support is necessary to achieving Crime Prevention

3. The law-abiding public must willingly support police

4. Willing public support will reduce the need for force and/or coercion by police

5. Police must remain politically neutral

6. MINIMUM physical force should be used when conducting duties

7. Police and citizens MUST appreciate they are ALL citizens with the same goal

8. Police are enforcers and protectors, not judges

9. The extent of crime is an indicator of how well police are accomplishing their Mission


Principles for Police Today as Related by Germann, Day, & Gallati


In 1968, Germann, Day, & Gallati published Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. This text quickly became a core feature of Criminal Justice and Law studies nationwide in America. Although claiming to base these principles on those of Sir Robert Peel, the authors cited no support (Lentz & Chaires, 2006). Still, these are principles upon which most police agencies in America began to operate starting in the 1970s so must be included here for consideration. These are as follows…

1. The police must be stable, efficient, and organized along military lines.
2. The police must be under government control.
3. The absence of crime will best prove the efficiency of police.
4. The distribution of crime news is essential.
5. The deployment of police strength both by time and area is essential.
6. No quality is more indispensable to a policeman than a perfect command of temper; a quiet, determined manner has more effect than violent action.
7. Good appearance commands respect.
8. The securing and training of proper persons is at the root of efficiency.
9. Public security demands that every police officer be given a number.
10. Police headquarters should be centrally located and easily accessible to the people.
11. Policemen should be hired on a probationary basis.
12. Police records are necessary to the correct distribution of police strength.


Additional Principles of Policing

To be fair, there are many additional principles of policing which have been developed by far more researchers than can be possibly covered in a brief page such as this. Future articles will consider not only the efficacy of Sir Robert Peels principles in greater detail, those of Germann, Day, & Gallati, but also those of other influential writers, researchers, and educators in the field.

One thing which must be remembered by both students and working professionals in Criminal Justice and Law is that while the study of Law is thousands of years old, formal Criminal Justice studies are still quite young. Thus, there is considerable need for future research in the field, especially by those inclined to combine human behavioral research into the mix. It is our hope here at Criminal Justice Law US that we can stimulate new thinking among readers so as to create a Criminal Justice system founded on sound principles.


Read Also:

Sir Robert Peel and the Principles of Order

How Sir Robert Peel Influences Modern Policing

Are Sir Robert Peel’s Principles of Policing Still Useful Today?



Lee, W. L. Melville. (1901). A History of Police in England. Methuen & Co. London, England.

Lentz, S.A.; Chaires, R.H. (2006). The invention of Peel’s principles: A study of policing ‘textbook’ history. Department of Criminal Justice. University of Nevada, Reno. Reno, NV. Elsevier, Ltd.

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