Peel’s Ninth Principle

Principle Nine

 To recognize 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.

In 1829 the word ‘efficiency’ had a broader meaning in the context of measuring organizational performance than it does now.  As performance measurement has progressed, organizational performance measurement has been divided into two distinct areas, efficiency measurement and effectiveness measurement.  In 1829 the term efficiency essentially embodied the meaning of both those terms.  As the word is used in the Ninth Principle it embodies both the concept of delivering a service at a reasonable price, and delivering a service that has the desired outcomes.

This principle is one of the first to express the need to test or measure  police performance.  It essentially says the emphasis should be on outcomes as opposed to outputs.  In this context the desired outcome is the absence of crime and disorder, the outputs are the actions undertaken by police to achieve the outcome.         

Efficiency is measured in terms of cost, i.e. are tax payers receiving good value for their tax dollars?  In the policing context cost is examined at various levels.  At the highest level cost would be looked at as the per capita cost of policing.  The per capita cost of policing in Winnipeg according to the Winnipeg Police 2008 Annual Report was $259.40.* Cost can also be calculated on a per-unit of service basis.  As an example, the cost of issuing a photo radar ticket in Winnipeg was reported to cost $48.01 in  2004. **  Once established, cost figures can then be compared to costs reported by other police agencies to determine a relative level of efficiency. 

Establishing whether the organization is effective is more difficult and involves an examination of whether the organization is doing the right things to achieve its stated goals.  Most police agencies have a stated or at least implied goal of reducing crime and disorder. Effectiveness measures establish whether the strategies, approaches and tactics employed result in the desired outcomes.  In Winnipeg, as an example, the Police have employed an innovative strategy to address the auto theft issue.  The stated goal was to reduce auto- theft.  With reductions of 16, 37 and 43 percent between 2006 and 2008 the strategy can be judged to be effective. *   The desired outcome was realized.

Many public service delivery organizations (both policing and non police) have become overly politicized.  In the case of municipal policing, police departments can become extensions of their political masters – especially if there are no effective buffers between the police and the mayor.  This is most clearly demonstrated in the United States where the links between municipal policing and mayors is closer than in Canada.  In the United States the mayor’s agenda frequently becomes the police agenda.  In some major American cities the position of Chief of Police is essentially a political appointment.  Many mayors in large American cities run on law and order platforms and one of the first things they do when elected is to appoint a new police chief whose approach and values are in keeping with their own.  Miami and Atlanta are recent examples of this phenomenon.

The more politicized an agency becomes the greater the emphasis on activities, or in Peel’s words, “visible evidence of police action”.  The emphasis on action allows both the politicians and the police to be seen to be doing something.  The emphasis on action can detract from a close examination of the services being delivered.  Program evaluation is mandatory to determine if the actions undertaken are yielding the desired results in terms of outcomes. The action orientation tends to discourage evaluation. 

Daily news conferences held by police agencies are intended to inform the public through the media of crime that is currently occurring in the community and, of course, what the police are doing about it (actions).  News conferences are not the forum in which to discuss outcomes. 

Reporting to the public on outcomes is more appropriate in an annual report.   Most police agencies, however, give limited coverage to reporting on outcomes in their annual reports choosing instead to highlight activities.  It is the statistical portion of the annual report that tells the real story about police efficiency and effectiveness, not the pictures and stories.  Statistical reporting, however, accounts for only 10% (in terms of volume) of most police agency annual reports. 

Some progressive police departments actually publish meaningful business and strategic plans that outline in detail police priorities and goals for the next 1-3 years.  The degree of goal achievement is reported upon in subsequent years and in some cases during the course of the current year.  Generally the goals relate to crime reduction or the restoration of order in the community and reflect an attempt by police to deliver services and measure their outputs and outcomes in keeping with this principle as opposed to simply reporting on their activities.    

In order to achieve outcomes police agencies need to state their goals and objectives up front and then report on their progress.  This needs to become part of the public accountability process.  In order for police to establish widespread public support they need to be accountable to the public. 

The Vancouver Police Department publishes an Annual Business Plan which lists both its goals and the strategies that will be employed to achieve the goals. ***  It serves as a good example for police agencies that do not formulate or publish meaningful business or strategic plans. 

*Winnipeg Police 2008 Annual Report.  Available at

** City of Winnipeg Photo Radar Audit.  Available at

*** Vancouver Police Department, 2009 Annual Business Plan.  Available at

Peel’s Eighth Principle

Principle Eight 

To recognize 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. 

This principle addresses the separation that must exist between the police and other components of the criminal justice system. 

The criminal justice system consists of four main components.  They are: the police; the crown; the judiciary; and corrections.  Each component plays a specific role in the criminal justice process.  The police determine what will become the subject of investigation, and how the investigation will be conducted.   With a few exceptions (cases where the approval of the attorney general is required to lay specific charges), crown prosecutors cannot tell the police if charges should be laid or which charges should be laid.  The police may at times consult the crown to avail themselves of legal expertise but the decision to lay charges (with the noted exception) falls under the purview of the police. 

Police may lay a charge if they, on reasonable and probable grounds, believe that an offence has been committed.  Reasonable and probable ground (sometimes referred to as simply reasonable grounds) has been defined as a set of conditions or circumstances that cause an ordinary prudent individual to form a strong belief which goes beyond mere suspicion. 

If police determine that reasonable and probable grounds exist and lay a charge, the crown determines if the charge will be prosecuted.  The crown will examine the strength of the case in terms of the credibility of the witnesses and the admissibility and strength of the evidence gathered by police.  The crown must look beyond simple reasonable grounds.  In court the crown must prove criminal cases ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.  This is the highest level of proof required by the courts.  Civil cases are decided based on a lower standard,  the civil standard being  balance of probabilities.  If the crown is of the opinion that the case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, in other words there is a likelihood of conviction, there is a secondary consideration.  The crown must determine if it is in the public interest to prosecute the case.  Although the police can offer their opinion, the decision to either proceed with or stay a charge lays with the crown.   

Judges have no input into police investigations or decisions by the crown in terms of cases that should be brought before the courts.  Their role is to hear and pass judgement on the cases that are brought before them.  Judges decide if the crown, based on the evidence gathered by police, has proved a case ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.  If not, judges are required to ‘acquit’, that is  find the accused person not guilty. 

If a person is found guilty, it is the role of judges to impose a penalty. 

 The main issue addressed by this principle, that of the police not ‘usurping’ or ‘seeming to usurp’ the role of judges, is at times not adhered to by police and at times results in public sniping by police. Although there are at times disagreements between police and the crown as to whether cases should be prosecuted, these disagreements rarely spill over into a public forum. 

Comments by police on either a judge’s findings or penalties imposed are not in keeping with this principle and are somewhat unseemly.  Firstly, they speak to a possible lack of understanding on the part of some police executives and union spokespersons as to the police role in the criminal justice system.  Secondly, to publicly criticize judges is inappropriate for two reasons:  judges are not in a position to defend their findings and decisions in a public forum, and an appeal process exists to review and remedy flawed judicial decisions.     

Police executives should not allow  frustration in relation to specific cases to cloud their judgement.  They should refrain from public comment that is critical of the judiciary.  Police constables and investigators working on the front lines should not and must not allow their own personal views of judicial decisions, or the comments of police executives, to influence them in terms of their interaction with suspects.  Any police perception of either an unwillingness or inability by the judiciary to impose appropriate penalties cannot be allowed to translate into any form of behaviour either seen, or intended, to be punishing to the suspects they interact with.  Punishment is clearly not the role of police. 

The criminal justice system was designed to ensure a separation of roles between the police, the crown and the judiciary.  The system is designed to ensure fair treatment at all stages of the process.  The truism that it is preferable for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted speaks to the tradition of our approach to justice.  While all legal avenues should be pursued to ensure that the guilty are convicted, the pre-conviction rights of suspects, and the rights of the innocent must share an equal footing.  Those rights include the right not to be punished prior to conviction. 

Any police officer who either does not understand this or can’t live with it should pursue alternate employment.

Peel’s Seventh Principle

Principle Seven 

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. 

Peel’s seventh principle is perhaps the most well know and most often quoted.  The historic tradition referenced by Peel is the tradition of community members coming to each other’s aid.  The principle in essence says that it is incumbent on all citizens to perform, on a part time basis, the policing function in the interest of community welfare and existence.  Police officers are simply citizens paid to do on a full time basis what all citizens are expected to do on an ad hoc basis.  This principle embodies the foundation of what has more recently come to be known as community policing. 

So what does it mean for the public to be the police.  Firstly it implies that the public has a stake and interest in the welfare of the community.  It also requires that the public act in the best interests of the community.  It means that it is incumbent on the public to take action when ‘community welfare’ is threatened. 

Although this principle is often cited by community activists and used as an indicator of the degree of alienation that exists between the police and the public, the fact is that maintaining the tradition enunciated in this principle is a two edged sword.  The principle puts a heavy emphasis on both the police and the public to do their part. 

It is not uncommon to hear complaints from the community that the police are not fulfilling their obligations.  An equally common complaint in policing circles is that the public is not living up to its obligation.  We often hear the comment ‘the police cannot do it alone’.  When you examine the ratio of police to population which is in the range of 1:500 it becomes obvious why the police need public assistance.

The police have an obligation to deliver professional police services on behalf of the public and the public has an obligation to assist the police. 

This means that the public is under an obligation to take action when ‘community welfare’ is threatened. 

Community welfare is a somewhat nebulous term.  It embodies the notion of maintaining a set of community standards and values that allow society to function in keeping with the values of society. 

In Canadian society we value our personal freedoms and rights.  One of those rights is the ownership of personal property and the enjoyment of that property.  The commission of crimes that affect that right, such as auto theft and break-ins, represent a threat to our personal rights and to community welfare.  Under Peel’s model the public has an obligation to assist police in preventing such crimes, and in instances where crimes are or have been committed in assisting police in apprehending the culprits.

The community cannot simply say ‘let the police handle it, that is what they are paid to do’.   Although that is indeed what the police are paid to do, if the police are expected to do it alone without public support, then the size of police departments needs to be increased dramatically if crime is to be held in check. 

So what type of public action did Peel envision on the part of the public?  British Common Law and the Canadian Criminal Code provide provision for members of the public to make citizen arrests in certain circumstances.  In the 1800’s, when criminals were much less likely to be armed this was a more viable option than at present.  Because of the dangers inherent in citizen arrests most police agencies discourage citizens from making arrests.  

There are, however, other measures that, citizens can take.  In the communication era citizens can be in almost instant contact with police via cell phone and provide real time information about crimes in progress.  Also, with existing technology digital photographs that can provide evidence can be taken.  As well, citizens who learn information about crime can pass that information on to police, not to collect a Crime Stoppers reward, but as an obligation of citizenship.    

On the police side of the equation, police must be equipped to receive and deal with information from the public in a professional manner.  One of the often heard complaints from the public is that information passed on to police seems to enter a void, a massive black hole and does not result in action by police.  When police receive information from the public they are under an obligation to deal with it in a professional manner and to report back to citizens what action if any was taken.  The public does not expect miracles but they do expect and have a right to know what action was taken as a result of the information they provided.  Police failure to provide feedback and close the communication loop is often cited as the reason citizens no longer call police and provide information as frequently as in the past.   

So who is mandated to maintain the traditional relationship between the police and the public?  It’s the police.  How do police maintain the relationship?  By living up to their professional obligations and embodying in their day to day practices the values and attitudes espoused by Peel in the first six principles.      

That, however, is much easier said than done and requires a dedicated commitment to the community that few police agencies are prepared to make.

Peel’s Sixth Principle

Principle Six

To use physical force only when the  exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation 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.

This principle can be divided into two sub-principles.  The first deals with the hierarchy of approaches that should be used by police in securing observance of the law or to restore order in situations where the law has been violated.  The second deals with situations where a decision has been made that the use of physical force is appropriate and deals with the degree or amount of force that should be used. 

Peel makes it clear  the initial approach by police should be to use methods such as persuasion, advice and warning in preference to physical force.  This implies a rational approach to situations.  The corollary is that police are dealing with rational individuals.  Irrational individuals are not likely to respond positively to a verbal exchange. 

The majority of situations involving exchanges between police and citizens are rational exchanges.  This is reflected in the National Use of Force Framework promoted by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.  A visual representation of the framework is presented here to add clarity. 


 Source:  Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.  Available at: 

This framework assists officers in their decision making process in terms of ensuring the approach they use is not only appropriate but also effective in the given situation they are facing.   

The chart is read starting from the 12 o’clock position.  The center of the chart represents the situation faced by a police officer and may vary from friendly/passive encounters to life and death scenarios.   

The first police response is simply a physical presence.  In many situations the presence of a police officer is all that is required to quell a situation.  The second response (the 2 o’clock position on the chart) is communication.  In many situations a conversation between an officer and a citizen(s) is all that is required to ensure compliance with the law and/or to restore order.  This second response can be related to Peel’s ‘persuasion, advice and warning’. 

The subsequent responses in the use of force framework rely on an ever increasing use of force in the form of hard physical control, intermediate weapons and ultimately the use of lethal force. 

The principle goes on to state that if non-physical measures are not adequate to secure observance of the law or to restore order then only as much force as is necessary should be used by police. 

This is an area that often causes  conflict between police and the public.  Many citizens when arrested claim that the amount of force used against them was excessive based on what their intention was.  They may have known what their intention was but the police officer did not and cannot assume what the citizen’s intention might be.  For that reason most use of force polices in Canada employ the ‘plus one doctrine’ which sees police officers use force that is one step above the force or resistance they encounter.  This approach is taken to ensure the safety of the officer. 

One of the shortcomings of the use of force policies of most policing agencies is their failure to educate the public as to what the policy is.  Proper education and perhaps even publication of the use of force policy would address the issue of people not understanding what the police are likely to do in a given situation, and why.  Using the plus one doctrine, police are justified, by policy, in using lethal force when confronted by an aggressive suspect with a weapon such as a knife,  if the suspect does not drop the weapon when ordered to do so.  Perhaps if suspects were aware of this they would be more likely to drop the knife when ordered to do so by police.

Peel’s Fifth Principle

Principle 5 

To seek and to 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 injustices 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. 

This principle gets to the meat of the matter in terms of separating policing from political influence. Public favour is maintained not by catering to the wants and needs of interest groups in society but rather by complete and total impartial service to the law.  Everyone is deemed equal before the law and through observance of the rule of impartiality the police can make that a reality.  

Police policies must be independent of political influence and they cannot and should not be over-ridden by political agendas.  Police policy must provide equality of service to all citizens.  It must not matter that one knows the premier, a member of the Legislative Assembly, the mayor or a city counselor.  The true test of the equality of a system is the ability to get the same service and treatment despite the fact that you have no political connections.  This separation of politics and policy does not imply that politicians cannot provide policy direction.  It simply means that once policy has been put in place there should be no attempt by politicians to influence outcomes or interject themselves into situations on a case by case basis.  To do so would “pierce the sacred veil of operations”, the veil being the invisible barrier that separates political decision making from operational decision making.   

Police must refrain from being publicly critical of existing legislation.  The role of the police is to enforce laws, not to criticize legislation.  The police must also refrain from criticizing judicial decisions as doing so undermines the administration of justice.  Criticism of the law and judicial decisions, especially in terms of sentencing decisions, reveals a glaring lack of their understanding of the police role in the criminal justice system.  If police officers are not able to accept that at a personal level that they will not agree with some judicial decision then they are in the wrong line of work. Not only will it cause frustration, it may also lead to flawed decision making and differential treatment of members of the public.     

 It is especially troublesome when senior police executives don’t understand their role and make public comment critical of judicial decisions.  Police executives certainly have a role to play in this regard but it should not be one of offering criticism in a public forum.  They have access to politicians both on an individual basis and through advocacy organization such as associations of chiefs of police at both the provincial and federal level which afford the opportunity to air their concerns and make recommendations for change.      

This principle also makes it clear that individual wealth and social standing should not affect the level of service citizens receive from police.  Because these principles were written in the early 1800’s, race is not mentioned as British society at that time was not racially diverse.  In modern society the delivery of police services and race has become an issue and police service delivery must not only be blind in terms of wealth and social standing, it must also be color blind.  It is ironic that most police agencies as part of the screening process, test applicants for colour blindness.  Applicants who are colour blind (in terms of the primary colours) are screened out.  In a broader social sense, police agencies should in fact attempt to identify and hire recruits that are truly ‘colour blind’.          

The last aspect of this principle addresses the willingness to make individual sacrifices to protect and preserve life.  Police agencies have an obligation to create a safe workplace for police officers through training, policy, procedures and the use of technology and appropriate equipment.  It must be recognized that some aspects of police work are inherently dangerous.  This principle addresses the issue of officer safety from the perspective of ensuring that procedures not become so restrictive that the safety of citizens is negatively affected.  An example might be a restriction that does not allow an officer to go to the assistance of a citizen at risk unless accompanied by another officer.  A healthy balance must be struck between officer safety concerns and the safety of citizens.

Peel’s Fourth Principle

Principle 4 

To recognize always that the extent to which the cooperation of the public can be secured diminishes, proportionally, the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.   

The corollary of this principle is that frequent use of force and compulsion by police is an indication of the degree of public cooperation or lack thereof.    

Most police agencies in Canada and indeed North America have adopted policies that  employ a use of force continuum.  The continuum lists the various use of force options available to police and the accompanying policy outlines the process police should employ to determine the appropriate level of force to use.  The continuum spans options that range from verbal instructions or commands to the use of deadly force at the other extreme of the spectrum.  Between those two options fall a variety of options depending on the training and policy of a particular police agency.  The continuum can include soft empty handed control, joint manipulation, pain causing techniques, non lethal weapons such as batons, pepper spray and conducted energy devices, and deadly force which involves the use of firearms. 

What this principle lays out is that a lack of public cooperation will necessitate not only more frequent but also a higher level of force and compulsion by police.  

Another interesting trend that is developing in policing is the reliance on technology based weapons such as Tasers as opposed to other methods.  The incident involving Robert Dziekanski and the RCMP at the Vancouver Airport in October of 2007 is one such example.  Prior to the introduction of Tasers, situations such as the Dziekanski incident (where there was one unruly person with a weapon [in this case a stapler] confronting four  police officers) would have resulted in the suspect being physically restrained, handcuffed and processed.  There might have been a few bumps and bruises, but everyone would have left the scene alive.  

The more frequent use of Tasers and other ‘intermediate’ weapons may come as the result of many police officers now on the streets never having policed without such options.  It may be a mindset reinforced by training.  Current training may prompt officers to resort to Tasers more quickly then police officers would have resorted to physical force or the use of a baton in the past.     

Another factor that may contribute to the policing mindset is that in the past the majority of officers cut their policing teeth by walking the beat, alone.  Walking the beat necessitated the development of superior verbal skills: the ability to negotiate and talk oneself out of many difficult situations.  That skill may no longer be as prevalent among police officers as it was in the past.  

Under Canadian law officers are entitled to use as much force as is necessary to achieve their lawful purpose.  It should never be suggested that police officers should unduly expose themselves to risk or danger, but neither should they resort to the use of force simply because they can.  Such an approach serves neither the police nor the public well.

Peel’s Third Principle

Principle 3 

To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also securing the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of the laws.    

This principle takes police community involvement and co-operation to the next step.  Securing and maintaining the respect of the public for the police is one thing.  Securing the willing co-operation of the public in terms of observance of the laws is another.  

The test for willing observance of the law is much like the test for personal integrity.  Integrity or the lack thereof is revealed in situations where an individual chooses a course of action free of coercion or compulsion based solely on a set of principles and values.  In the sporting world when Bobby Jones called a two stroke penalty on himself when he could have chosen not to do so (and subsequently lost the 1925 United States Open Golf Championship by one stroke) is a fine example of personal integrity.  When praised for his integrity Jones commented “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”  Willing observance of the law requires obeying traffic laws, by-laws and criminal law as a matter of principle, not out of fear of being caught.  

The ratio of police to public (1:500) is such that a police presence throughout the entire community at all times is impossible to maintain.  Police patrols at best serve as a reminder to the public that failure to observe laws can have repercussions.  If the public has not ingrained the notion of observance of the laws even without a police presence, social order and observance of the laws cannot be maintained.  To use a sports analogy, it is like the difference between golf where competitors call penalties on themselves based on the principle of adherence to the rules and other sports like hockey or football where competitors attempt to hide their transgression and go to great lengths arguing that they did not violate the rules, when they, and everyone else watching the match knows they did.  

The role of the police, therefore, is not only to enforce the laws but also to educate the public as to what the rules (laws) are, demonstrate strict observance of the laws themselves and convince the public of the merits and virtues of willingly observing the law.  

There is a direct relationship between police workload, and the types of activities police occupy themselves with and the degree of willing observance of the laws by the public. The degree of willing observance of the law, determines how much energy must be devoted to enforcement.  

If police are freed up from enforcing laws involving what are normally viewed as law abiding citizens, their numbers can be reduced and they are then in a position to concentrate on serious criminal activities perpetrated by career criminals, gangs and other organized crime groups.