16 November 1888
On the Report of Supply (November 14), Mr. PICKERSGILL moved that the house disagree with the Committee so far as the report related to the sum of 3,300£ in Metropolitan Police vote, the salaries of the chief constables and assistant chief constables of the metropolitan police force. Five of these offices were ex-officers of the army. There were four chief constables, and the maximum salary of each was 800£. After the Trafalgar-Square disturbances in February, 1886, a committee to consider the reorganisation of the metropolitan police force was appointed, which recommended that the chief constables should as a general rule be officers who had seen service in the army or navy, and Sir Charles Warren was the moving spirit of that committee. The hon. member then read from an article in the Daily News, which was, he said, a paper that had never shown a desire to press unduly on the administration of which Sir Charles Warren had been the head. The Daily News, after treating of the chief constables, and their functions and suggestions, said of a suggestion made by one of them with respect to a particular class of street vans, that it was no doubt a valuable one, but rather dear at 625£. The meaning of that was, that there was no place for the chief constable - that the chief constable was a fifth wheel in the coach. The chief constables were military officers, without police experience. It was time this regime should cease. The people of London did not wish police infantry to be instructed by an ex-guardsman to baton them; they wanted crime to be detected, and for property to be as secure in London as in the last year of the administration of Sir Edmund Henderson.
Mr. J. ROWLANDS seconded the amendment.
Commander BETHELL, with reference to what the Home Secretary had stated, in his account of the resignation of Sir C. Warren, declared that the late Commissioner of Police had never in any way questioned the superiority of the Home Secretary. He would ask the Home Secretary to read the covering letter sent in 1879 to the Commissioner of Police with the memorandum which had been referred to; it might have contained a definition written by the man who wrote the memorandum showing what it meant. He had a strong suspicion that when the Home Secretary wrote the letter to the Commissioner referring to the memorandum he knew nothing about the covering letter, and that Sir Chas. Warren also knew nothing about it. If the right hon. gentleman had known of it he would never have written a letter conceived in such severe terms to an officer so highly placed, and if a severe letter had not been written it would not have drawn so sharp a reply from the Commissioner of Police. The explosion might ultimately have taken place, but this particular publication would not have been the cause of the resignation of the Commissioner. Why had the relations between the Home Secretary and the Commissioner become so disagreeable, and more than one offer of resignation had been made by the latter? A little more than a couple of years ago Sir C. Warren, who was then holding a high command at Suakim, was telegraphed for by Mr. Childers to come home at once for the purpose of reorganizing the police.
Mr. CHILDERS - No. He was offered the appointment by telegraph, and he telegraphed his acceptance, and he was then requested to come home and take up his duties immediately.
Commander BETHELL - The word "reorganization" of the police did not occur?
Mr. CHILDERS - I think not.
Commander BETHELL said that at any rate Sir C. Warren came home and took command of the police. Such being the case, it seemed natural to suppose that the Government of the day and succeeding Governments would pay the greatest attention to any suggestion which he might make for the improvement of the police; and it would strike anybody as an absurdity if he were told that the Commissioner's proposal for altering the police were submitted, not to the Home Secretary alone, but to Sir C. Warren's own subordinate officials behind his back. He should be curious to know if the Home Secretary contradicted that. If that, be so, was it possible that any discipline could be maintained in any force whatever. (Hear, hear.) He challenged the Home Secretary to say whether it was true that complaints had been made to him by the Commissioner, and substantiated in correspondence, that his officials, or some of them, had taken upon themselves to a great extent substantially to give orders or something less than giving orders; at any rate to take some considerable part in the duties of the Home Secretary in relation to the Commissioner, generally under cover of the right hon. gentleman's signature, but he believed not always. If these charges which he made were not absolutely contradicted by the Home Secretary, was it wonderful that there had been considerable friction between him and the Commissioner. It was said in the Press that criminal investigation had suffered by the administration of Sir C. Warren. It was a statement which would not be disputed that Sir C. Warren did bring to the notice of the Home Secretary, in correspondence, that the Criminal Investigation Department was falling into confusion from the fact that the head of the Department was not able to devote his time to legitimate duties because he was employed elsewhere for other undertakings for the Home Secretary and under his authority. He hoped he had made the position sufficiently clear to soften some of the prejudice that had obtained, and to soften some of the asperities which had arisen against Sir C. Warren in respect of these letters.
Mr. CHILDERS concurred in the opinion that the police should be governed upon civil and not upon military principles. While he was in office he examined a large number of candidates for the office and reduced the number to six, three of whom were officers of the army and three were civilians. Out of the six, Sir C. Warren appeared to him to be the most efficient officer. He agreed with the unanimous recommendation of a subsequent committee that the general administration of the police should be subject to supervision. It was due to the non-carrying out of the recommendation that the non-efficiency of the higher departments had been maintained. It was absolutely necessary that the Chief Commissioner should give obedience to the Home Secretary - (hear, hear) - but he (Mr. Childers) was anxious that the Metropolitan Police should be placed under the County Council as soon as possible, excepting only a number sufficient to look after the Government buildings (Cheers).
Mr. MATTHEWS entirely repudiated on behalf of the Government the doctrine that members of the Metropolitan Police were entitled to publish without check controversial articles respecting the force. He did not censure Sir C. Warren's article, but simply its publication without the sanction of the Home Secretary. (Hear, hear.)
In the course of the right hon. gentleman's remarks, Mr. Johnston rose to order, and from his place on the Ministerial benches below the gangway, asked whether the Home Secretary was not out of order in turning his back upon the Speaker. The objection gave rise to much laughter, especially as the Speaker took no notice of it. Mr. Matthews, on resuming his observations, explained that he was desirous that his words should reach his hon. and gallant friend Commander Bethell.
On a division the amendment was negatived by 143 votes against 30.
Mr. STUART, regarding the explanation of the police expenditure as unsatisfactory, moved the adjournment of the debate, which was negatived by 116 against 25. The Government appealed to the Committee to allow the vote to be passed. The whole matter was being inquired into with a view to revising the expenditure.
The report of Supply was then agreed to, and the House adjourned at 2 a.m.
Nothing remarkable occurred in the East-end yesterday in connection with the recent series of crimes. The murderer appears to be as far from justice as ever. No fresh particulars regarding him have come into the possession of the police. The detectives continue to be drafted to various parts of the metropolis and suburbs to investigate statements which have hitherto without exception proved absolutely worthless. Little or no importance is attached by the police to the story told by the man Packer as published yesterday morning. During the day there was the customary batch of arrests on suspicion, but in no instance was a prisoner's detention of long duration. One of the arrests was made at Dover. The funeral of the deceased woman will take place on Monday.
Collingwood Hilton Fenwick, a young man who is said to be in a good social position, was brought before Mr. Slade, at the Southwark Police-court, yesterday, accused of cutting and wounding Ellen Worsfold, at Ann's-place, Waterloo-road. It was alleged that Fenwick went to the house in question with the woman early yesterday, and stabbed her with a knife. She raised an alarm, and he was caught and given into custody. A remand was granted.
A respectably dressed young man, giving the name of Collingwood Hilton Fenwick, aged 26, was charged at Southwark Police-court yesterday, before Mr. Slade, with unlawfully cutting and wounding a young woman of the unfortunate class named Ellen Worsfold, with intent to do her grievous bodily harm.-
The prosecutrix, aged 19, stated that about one o'clock that morning she met the prisoner in Westminster Bridge-road, and he accompanied her to her lodgings at Ann's-place, Waterloo-road. While they were in the room she felt herself stabbed in the abdomen. She cried out for "help," and made for the door, but the prisoner prevented her from going out by holding up a small penknife at her. She then found herself bleeding very much, and also saw blood on the prisoner's hands. She called out to a young man living in the next room, named "Jim." The prisoner said to her, "Let me go," and she said, "Not until I fetch a policeman." Upon that the prisoner opened the door and ran downstairs, the witness following him. At that moment "Jim" appeared on the landing, and asked the witness what was the matter. She replied, "I believe he has stabbed me." "Jim" went down to stop him, while she went to fetch a policeman, but the prisoner succeeded in getting out and ran away. Jim gave chase, and caught him in Tower-street. He was then given in charge of a constable. - James Peters, a bricklayer, who said he lived with his wife at Ann's-place in the next room to the prosecutrix, corroborated the statement of the prosecutrix as to her calling him, and his chase after the prisoner. - The latter, who was said to be a man in good position, was remanded.
SIR CHARLES WARREN AND THE POLICE FORCE. - Yesterday afternoon a deputation of officers of the Metropolitan Police force waited on Sir Charles Warren, at his private residence, to express to him their high esteem of him as a chief and their regret at his leaving them. In reply to the deputation, Sir Charles expressed his keen appreciation of the loyal manner in which both officers and men had supported him during his tenure of office. Referring to the cause of his resignation, he briefly and generally attributed it to the interference of Home Office subordinates with what he considered the routine work of his department. The absolute veto or control of the Home Secretary he had never disputed. Continuing, he referred to his two years' hard work from morn to night in putting the organisation on its proper footing. After such exertions he had hoped that now the internal administration had been perfected he could have devoted more time to divisional inspection. These benefits, however, he trusted, would be transmitted to his successor. He could fearlessly say that he had worked for the benefit and better protection and goverment of the metropolis, and the benefit of the force as a body. He had made many friendships which he valued, but he had never tried to make himself popular. He had worked himself, and had expected others under him to do so. With regard to the police generally, he had never come across a body of men who had better or more zealously and indefatigably done their duty, and he thanked officers and men most heartily and sincerely. - Superintendent Draper, as the oldest member of the force, and who had been deputed to speak on behalf of his brother officers, said they could not fail to sensitively feel the resignation of their esteemed chief. From the first they had felt confidence in him as a leader, and he had reciprocated that confidence. They felt, too, that in all he had done he had had their interests at heart, and desired to render the service efficient. In his retirement Sir Charles Warren carried with him the respect and admiration of every man in the force. - Superintendent Fisher endorsed the opinions of the previous speaker, and the interview ended.