A couple of summers ago I was working outside a prestigious but not politically important building when I was approached by a couple of guys who turned out to be close protection officers to an American 4 star general who was inside. One guy was ex-FBI and the other ex-NYPD. Naturally we started talking about the differences and similarities on either side of the pond, particularly about the use of firearms etc, when the ex-NYPD officer said "week one of my training, Robert Peel, the Metropolitan Police and how policing has evolved through the years and its role in society, always stuck with me that did"
This amazed me for a number of reasons. Firstly, week one of my training consisted mostly about diversity and about how we were all to be prejudice non-discriminators, this was also just post Macpherson, so I had the joy of finding out that I was a racist. Apparently.
Secondly, at no point throughout any of my training at my home force or at training school did anyone talk about Robert Peel or the history and evolutions of Policing. We did learn a bit about the 5 priorities of a Police officer (listed below) but that was for about an hour and was as close as we got. The only thing I knew about the Met was that they were big, got paid more than we did, that Labour hated them after the Miners strikes and that they had so many people that some of them got to stay in carriers while others walked with protesters. I also found out when I travelled to London to pick up a prisoner once, that they occasionally had their meal breaks together as a whole team and that they had canteens with staff in them.
We, however, still had a couple of Police bars at the time, so at least we upped them on that one.
There is an old adage that says "you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you have been" and I think that this is very relevant to Policing. Not learning about the origins of Policing and how the structures came to be and why they changed after specific events, is like the military not studying the work of Sun Tzu or the battles of Agincourt and The Somme.
Personally, I think its a disgrace that we never learned the history of what is really a fundamental pillar of our society, it almost seems like The Job is actually ashamed of where it has come from. Knowing the type of people in ACPO and the Government, I wouldn't be surprised if that was really the case.
As part of the foundations to the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, Robert Peel developed nine principles that were considered to be the first guidelines for Police officers and Policing in general, and having actually read it all the way through, they are considerably less boring than PACE. Listed below, they all still ring true today, nearly 180 years after the Act came in to place. We could do far, far worse than follow their guidance again, and to be honest these principles are what 95% of the popultation of the UK believe the Police should be about anyway.
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 the public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation 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 favor 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 upon 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.
When I was applying to join, one of the exercises was to put the 5 priorities in order and discuss why they were relevant, we also sort of covered these in week one, but not much.
They were -
1) To Protect Life,
2) To Protect Property,
3) To Prevent Crime,
4) To Detect Crime,
5) To Keep the Queens Peace.
Nowadays we seem only to be concerned with the 4th one of detecting crime as all the others can only really be considered as countable if we have actually failed to achieve them when 1) someone dies 2) something is destroyed 3) crime actually takes place and 5) the peace is actually broken.
Looking at the way in which the Government have sought (and to a degree succeeded) to micromanage Police officers and completely remove discretion, it seems clear to me that The Principles are as dead and gone as the role of Constable is sure to be if they carry on at the rate they are going.