|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 9, February 1997. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
by James W Marsh
My previous article relating to Sir Charles Warren (the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the time of the Whitechapel Murders in 1888), pointed out that the Home Secretary at the time, Henry Matthews MP, found a very secure position at the Home Office for James Monro, the Assistant Commissioner responsible for the Criminal Investigation Department of the Metropolitan Police, upon his resignation.
This position gave Monro, as Head, almost complete control over the Detective Department. As we know, this resulted meetings in Whitehall between Matthews, Monro, Anderson and senior detective officers of the Met, with very little feed back to the Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren.
This curious situation must surely have been going on during the last months of 1888. Thus it is reasonable to suspect that Sir Charles was being kept in the dark on the day-to-day findings of the detective branch. The murders in Whitechapel would, without doubt, have been top of the list of items at the meetings, which we know were held daily under the chairmanship of Monro. James Monro was well supported, not only by Matthews, the Home Secretary, but also by Dr Robert Anderson, the Assistant Commissioner who had stepped into Monro's position after his resignation.
Considering the fact that Sir Charles Warren was publicly crucified by the press for what they alleged to be "his mishandling of the Whitechapel murders investigation", is it not within reason to assume that hp, as a Commissioner who was denied the complete findings and recommendations of those meetings, found himself very much at a loss as to what steps he should take to ensure that he was kept aware of any developments, or indeed, additional murders? And so it was that, under this pressure, Sir Charles issued an order stating that no further victim of the Ripper would be touched until he was present and the bloodhounds, Burgho and Barnaby, which had been undergoing trials in man-tracking on the streets of London, were brought to the scene.
The newspapers openly mocked Sir Charles and his bloodhound theory. Bloodhounds in Whitechapel, they cried, is sheer stupidity, and what type of fool is the Commissioner, came their chorused theme. But ih truth, not only was the Commissioner desperate at this time, but so were the whole of his Metropolitan Police; that is the Uniform Branch, and of course, the CID as well. And the facts must be faced, Sir Charles had neither the cooperation or loyalty of the CID. Their loyalty was, unfortunately, resting upon the bigoted conspiracy that had been instigated by Home Secretary Henry Matthews and James Monro, and well supported by Robert Anderson, now the Assistant Commissioner responsible for the CID.
The Metropolitan Police Force was barely out of its infancy at the time of the Ripper killings. Many lessons had been learnt since 1829 when Sir Robert Peel had first formed the Metropolitan Police on the lines that we are familiar with today. Experience, however, was to bring about many changes and patterns of thought in the years that lead up to, and beyond, 1888.
Many of those initial ideas were considered a waste of time. Ideas, such as the use of bloodhounds, which might help to bring about the taking of the Ripper. But of course, as we know, it was said that Sir Charles Warren needed his brains testing to come up with such a scheme, or at the very least, to add his support to such a scheme.
In the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, some of the police forces in this country began to experiment with bloodhounds and mastiffs. Prior to this, dogs used in the tracking of criminals were usually owned by private citizens. In the case of Sir Charles, he sought the assistance of a bloodhound breeder named Edwin Brough, of Wyndyate, near Scarborough. Mr Brough was asked to bring a couple of his trained bloodhounds to London for the purpose of testing their capabilities in following the scent of a man. The hounds were named Barnaby and Burgho.
Mr Brough tried Barnaby and Burgho in Regent's Park on the morning of Monday 8th October. The ground was coated with frost, but we are told by The Times that they did their work well, successfully tracking a young man, who had been given a fifteen minute start, for nearly a mile. Further trials took place on the evening of the same day in Hyde Park. It was dark, and this time the bloodhounds were hunted on the leash, as would be the case if they were employed in Whitechapel. They were again successful in performing their allotted task, and on the following morning, Tuesday 9th October, at 7 o'clock, another trial took place, this time before Sir Charles Warren.
The morning trial was reported to be a much better one for scenting purposes than had been Monday's trials. In all, half a dozen runs were made, with Sir Charles Warren himself twice acting as the hunted man. In every instance, the dogs hunted persons who were complete strangers to them. The Times for 10th October reported that Sir Charles expressed satisfaction at the result of these trials.
Edwin Brough, the owner of the hounds, was obliged to return to Scarborough but left the hounds in the care of a friend, Mr Taunton, who was considered an authority on matters appertaining to the larger breed of dog. He was entrusted with their custody whilst awaiting the conclusion of any negotiations for the purchase of the hounds by the Metropolitan Police.
Sir Charles Warren, however, it was said, would not give any definite assurance on that point; he said that he required more trials to be carried out before making the final decision. And remember, by this time, his critics were mocking him over this bloodhound venture. Thus it was that Mr Brough insisted that the hounds be returned to him at once.
Mr Taunton sent Burgho to Brighton to take part in a Dog Show as requested by Edwin Brough, but he kept Bamaby against Brough's wishes. He said that he'd decided to keep the dog for some time longer. After a while, however, Taunton had a request from the police to bring Barnaby to the Leman Street Police Station.
Upon his arrival, he was told of a burglary that had been committed at about 5 o'clock that morning in nearby Commercial Street. But by this time it was midday. Mr Taunton pointed out that too much time had passed to expect a hound to accomplish anything under such circumstances after such a length of time had elapsed. Thus it was that Mr Taunton returned to his home with Barnaby.
It has been written that the hounds, Burgho and Barnaby, went missing during a trial at Tooting Common. Mr Taunton denied this by saying:
"The origin of the tale regarding the hounds being lost in Tooting, while tracking a man, I can only account for in the following way. I had arranged to take Barnaby out to Hemel Hempstead to give the hound some practice. On that same day a sheep was killed on Tooting Common and the police wired to London, asking that the hounds might be sent down. At this time I was some miles away from London with Barnaby, and did not get the telegram until my return, and that was late in the evening. Somebody doubtless remarked that the hounds were missing, meaning that they did not arrive at Hemel Hempstead, when sent for, and this was magnified into a report that they had been lost. At that time Burgho was in Scarborough." In finishing Mr Taunton said:
"Under the circumstances in which the body of Mary Jane Kelly was found, I do not think the bloodhounds would have been any use. It was then daylight and the streets were crowded with people. The only chance the hounds would have, would be in the event of a murdered body being discovered, as were the others, in the small hours of the morning, and being put on the trail before too many people were about."
Another opinion on this theme was sent in a letter to the Editor of The Times that was published on Tuesday 2nd October. It read:
Sir, - With regard to the suggestion that bloodhounds might assist in tracking the East-end murderer, as a breeder of bloodhounds, and knowing their power, I have little doubt that, had aa hound been put on the scent of the murderer while fresh, it might have done what the police failed in. But now, when all trace of the scent has been trodden out, it would be quite useless. Meanwhile, as no means of detection should be left untried, it would be well if a couple or so trained bloodhounds, and unless trained they are worthless, were kept for a time at one of the police headquarters ready for immediate use. There are, doubtless, owners of bloodhounds willing to lend them, if any of the police, which, I fear, is improbable, know how to use them.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, Percy Lindley.
York Hill, Loughton, Essex, Oct
Well, there it is, according to two experts of those times, Mr Taunton and Mr Lindley - the use of bloodhounds in Whitechapel was feasible, providing that the body was found when the streets were not crowded. As in the cases of Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Eddowes, but unfortunately Mary Jane Kelly's body was found in the busy daylight hours, and the hounds were not immediately available anyway. Eventually Barnaby was returned to Scarborougn and Mr Brough, whom, it would appear, was concerned for the wellbeing of his animal in London. It was reported that the sale of two bloodhounds to the Metropolitan Police had taken place, but this was denied by Edwin Brough in a letter which he sent to the Editor of The Times, which was published in the newspaper on 11th October and read as follows:
Sir, - There is one statement in your otherwise very exact account of the trials of bloodhounds in Hyde Park, which I shall be glad to be allowed to correct. My hounds Barnaby and Burgho have not been purchased by Sir Charles Warren for the use of the police.
Yours truly, Edwin Brough - October
The police forces of the United Kingdom finally realised the potential of the 'Police Dog' in the 1930's but at that time, more as attack do than scent-tracking animals. This interest, however, was to fall away with the outbreak of the Second World War. The British Army, though, were to increase their use of workingdogs throughout the war period. The interest of the police forces was revived in 1954 when a working party of police officers from the UK visited Germany, for the German police had used working-dogs for some years previously. German shepherd dogs were brought into the UK and designated to various police forces, and indeed, bred for the purpose. So it was from that point on that the working police dog came into it's own in the United Kingdom.
Whilst the German shepherd is considered today as being a very suitable dog to be used by the police services, it is still acknowledged by working-dog experts, that the bloodhound and it's scent-tracking skills far outweigh those possessed by the German shepherd and many other such breeds. In this year of 1995, the Metropolitan Police not only supports the idea of dogs being used to help take the villains, they have, like every other police force throughout the UK, a Police Dog branch or section. Bloodhound or otherwise, a dog is a dog, and the modern-day police dog is trained to track by smell at ground level or by scent trails in the air. In my preparation for this article I spoke with an instructor at the Metropolitan Police Dog Training Establishment, at Keston, near Bromley, in Kent.
PC Bob Sherwood said that he would doubt very much any great success in the use of bloodhounds in Whitechapel, simply because of the number of people that would have been moving around, or, if you like, crossing a scent trail, which in itself would confuse a tracking dog. But by the same token, he followed this by saying that at best the hounds may have been able to follow the scent trail over the cobbled streets, but in truth, he doubted it. He went on to say that even to this day we are still learning about the scent-tracking skills of these animals and after all is said and done, the bloodhound is still considered the greatest tracker by scent of them all.
Well, there it is, reader. Was Sir Charles so very wrong to consider the bloodhound theory, or was he one of those who, in fact, helped to lay down the seed for the future of the police service and it's Dog Sections? A point which his critics of that time overlooked in their eagerness to pour scorn on him. Or were they themselves incapable of realising that the progress of the future is often born out of the trials and errors of the past?