Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet was a British Conservative who was and still is a respected leader in national and international affairs. He had 2nd Baronet to his name for the reason that he shared the same name with his father who was referred to as 1st Baronet. He had two stints as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was Home Secretary, a period during which he was instrumental in establishing the contemporary idea of the police force which has impacted law enforcement in other parts of the world since then (Adelman, 1989, p. 4).
As Prime Minister, he annulled the Corn Laws and came up with the Tamworth Manifesto that led to the establishment of the Conservative Party from the defunct Tory Party.
Peel got himself into political affairs at the age of twenty one as legislator for Irish Cashel Tipperary, being elected unopposed. He had the backing of his father and Sir Arthur Wellesley who was later to become Duke of Wellington. Peel’s maiden speech at the commencement of the 1810 sitting was praised by the Speaker as second only to that of William Pitt.
During his tenure as Chief Secretary in Dublin in 1813, he recommended the establishment of a professional law enforcement force, which later came to be referred to as the “Peelers”. For the subsequent decade he had stints at a succession of somewhat unimportant positions within the Tory administrations (Ramsay, 1969, p. 26). He also shifted constituencies twice, first to Chippenham and then Oxford University in 1817. From the 1930 he shifted to Tamworth where he stayed until his passing away.
Peel showed that he was one of the growing lights of the Tory party and first got into cabinet occupying the Home Secretary docket in 1822. During his stay in that office he instituted some significant alterations of British criminal law, the most remembered being the setting up of the Metropolitan Police Force through the Metropolitan Act of 1829.
Changes were also carried out in criminal law where the crimes liable to be punished by death were trimmed down. Adjustments were also carried out on the gaol scheme whereby payment for gaolers was initiated and learning for convicts.
Peel stepped down as Home Secretary after Lord Liverpool who was Prime Minister at the time befell incapacitation (Clark, 1964, p. 34). George Canning replaced Peel. Canning passed away later and after Lord Goderich’s stint as premier, the Duke of Wellington took over and Peel was once again the Home Secretary.
Police reform is one of the high points that Peel is well renowned for. He instituted the Metropolitan Police Force for London. The one thousand police officers taken up at the time were warmly dubbed Bobbies and in other quarters as Peelers, terms that have remained in place until today.
These officers were very successful in reducing crime drastically in London. Peel instilled principles in the force which classified the moral obligations the officers must tag on in a bid to be effectual in their duties. By the late 1950s, all metropolitans in the United Kingdom were duty-bound to set up their own law enforcement forces (Clark, 1964, p. 36).
Law enforcement in other parts of the world has borrowed from Peel’s principles. For instance in America, police officers are expected to carry out their duties with the highest ethical standards. The principles not only touch on the law enforcement but are in conjunction with the community whereby the law enforcement is the community, and the community the law enforcement.
Peel was later to become Prime minister, then opposition leader and again Prime Minister, periods within which he instituted notable economic reforms (Adelman, 1989, p. 18). He passed away on 2nd July 1850 aged sixty two.
Adelman, P. (1989). Peel and the Conservative Party: 1830-1850. London and New York: Longman. pp. 4 – 18.
Clark, G. (1964). Peel and the Conservative Party: A Study in Party Politics 1832-1841. 2nd ed. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, The Shoe String Press, Inc. pp. 34 – 36.
Ramsay, A. (1928, 1969). Sir Robert Peel. Freeport, New York: Books for Library Press. pp. 26-27.