Robert Peel

The name 'Robert Peel', conjures up the image of 'bobbies' or 'peelers' which was the nickname for the first professional police force.

But there is another side to Robert Peel. Queen Victoria did not particularly like him, and she has been quoted as calling him 'a cold, unfeeling and disagreeable man'. Queen Victoria and Robert Peel had several disagreements over the years but he really upset her when spoke against Prince Albert, the Queen's most loved husband. That was just one of the disagreements that they had, over time they had many more. Actually Queen Victoria was not the only person that Robert Peel upset, his direct and forthright manner, lacked the expected social graces that were expected from a man of his standing even if he had such a wonderfully huge success with formalising the London Police in 1829. At the time Robert Peel was the Home Secretary, to a conservative government and later became Prime minister.

Metropolitan Police. Despite his lack of social skills, Robert Peel was an excellent organiser and without his organisation skills. If we backtrack to Glasgow 1800, where the City of Glasgow Police were set up, this was used as a model to help Peel and his government colleagues set up a formal approach to policing through the Peace Preservation Act (1814). This then led to the setup of the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1822. London was lagging behind Ireland and Scotland on formal policing issues. When Peel was the Home Secretary, he pressured the Prime Minister to pass the Metropolitan Police Act which gave rise to a permanent policing system for the capital.

The first paid Constable took to the streets of London in the September of 1829. Peel was mindful that the Constable should not look like the military redcoats and he felt rather that they needed to have a uniform that made them look similar to other people in the street, but at the same time appear that they had 'presence'. There were rules that were strictly adhered to and have formed some of the regulations still inforce today in the Metropolitan Police. The 'peelers' needed be able to read and write; not have a criminal record; be fit; comply to the height and age restrictions. IN 1829, 'peelers', carried a wooden truncheon, handcuffs and a rattle to summon help or raise an alarm (a far cry from radios, cameras and Tasers or today).

Robert Peel unfortunately met his demise whilst out riding in 1850, and was thrown from his horse.

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