|A Ripperoo Article
|This article originally appeared in Ripperoo, the flagship magazine of the Australian Cloak and Dagger Club. For more information, view our Ripperoo page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperoo for permission to reprint this article.
By Julian Rosenthal.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, (1837 - 1901), the population of England doubled and the Industrial Revolution put new pressures on her society. This caused an increase in the crime rate and the problem of where to house these criminals worsened. On top of that the transportation of convicts to Australia had been abolished in 1868, due to increasing opposition.
In 1829, seeing the need to reform the police force of England, the Home Secretary Robert Peel developed what was a crude but partially effective police force. It was mainly in an effort to stem the activities of criminals, who had in fact taken over whole suburbs and made them their own. He formed 'The Metropolitan Police Force', and two men he put in charge of the force of 1000 men, were Charles Rown and Richard Mayne. It was responsible for all of London except the city, were it was refused. The area it covered was later to become the County of London, divided into seventeen districts, with a superintendent in charge of each.
It made English Common Law more humane and effiient. Over half of 200 or more crimes that carried the death penalty, were removed from the list. In 1837, the number was reduced to 16, and by 1861 this list comprised of just 4 crimes: murder, treason, piracy and destruction of arsenals.
What there was of a police force before this time, comprised of elderly members of the community who were susceptible to bribes and other forms of corruption, like accepting financial rewards or turning a blind eye on future misdiscretion. Magistrates, lawyers and pseudo legal eagles all had their 'hand in the pot'. Given this knowledge it is easy to understand why successful burglars and other theives had little difficulty in escaping justice.
Robert Peel, later Sir Robert Peel, set up a force to change all this which soon grew to 5500 men, so he became a household name. This increased number of men, was divided into 22 'Boroughs' that was each responsible for policing different districts. 'Headquarters' was a building at 4 Whitehall Place, the back of which opened onto a courtyard that was once owned by the Kings of Scotland. This became known as 'Scotland Yard'. The creation of these new police groups, was met with objection from the local communities. The policemen were called "Bobbies" and "Peelers" and are affectionately known as "Bobbies" today.
To avoid military appearance, the uniform selected was a bl;ue high-collared frock-coat, with 8 large brass buttons, leather belt, blue trousers, top hat, gloves and a strong baton. A "Bobby" carried a bull's eye lantern for night work, a whistle to summon assistance and a truncheon was tucked into a special pocket in his trousers. A recruit had to stand 5ft 9ins tall and be able to read and perform basic arithmetic. 52 new prisons were built, of which most still opperate today. Crime prevention was not the only business of the new police force. They took over many of the functions of the watchmen, such as the lighting of gas lamps, calling out the time, watching for fires and providing other public services.
Not only did this new police force come under ridicule from the locals but also from the magistrates, who felt their monopoly of authority was being taken from them. However, after a short period in the service, the new police force began producing results which indicated it's methods were working and offered hope for a law abiding and safe community.
In 1836, the 'Bow St. Horse Patrol' was incorporated into to the Metropolitan Police Divisions. In 1839, a second Metropolitan Police Act converted the 'River Thames Force' into the Thames Division, which took in the 'Bow Street Foot Patrol'. By now the territory covered by the force covered as fifteen mile radius.
One particularly brutal murder in 1842, by Daniel Good, caused widespread alarm from the public, so a seperate 'Detective Department' was formed. This comprised of 2 Inspectors and 6 Sergeants and became known as the 'C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Department). There was arapid decline in previously accepted crime, and people started feeling safe about walking around the streets at night.
The 1860s, 70s and 80s proved a particularly troublesome time for the force who combated much public unrest and political criticism whenever disorder occured. In 1866 they had to police a massed demonstration of the 'Reform League'. Then in 1867 and in 1883 during campaigns for Home Rule for Ireland, they coped with bomb threats from the 'Fenian Movement' In 1883 the 'Special Irish Branch' was formed.
On November 13 1887, a pitched battle took place between police and many unskilled, unemployed workers at an open-air meeting. 'Bloody Sunday' resulted in 2 deaths and over 100 injuries. The press attacked the 'Met' force and frequently compared it's work unfavourably with that of the 'City of London Police'.
In 1888, the 'Metropolitan Police' were responsible for the investigation of all the Ripper murders, except that of Catharine Eddowes, which occured in the area of jurisdiction of the 'City of London Police'. As the Whitechapel murders became too much for Whitechapel's 'H Division' alone, assistance was sought from the 'Home Office' at Scotland Yard. At the time 'H Division' had a force numbering some 548 men, comprising of Superintendant Arnold, 30 Inspectors, 44 Sergeants and 473 Constables.
The 'Metropolitan Police Commissioner' at the Home Office at Scotland Yard at the time, was Sir Charles Warren, who was unpopular with the press since he led police troops in November 1887 on 'Bloody Sunday'.
'Assistant Commissioners' were Lieutenant Colonel R.L.O. Pearson, A.C. Bruce Esq. and J. Monro Esq.
Following the murder of Mary Nichols, 'Assistant Commissioner C.I.D.' at Scotland Yard was Dr. Robert Anderson.
On the day of Annie Chapman's murder, he left for Switzerland on sick-leave. Cheif Inspector Donald Swanson was commanded to take charge.
'Superintendant in Charge of H Division' was Thomas Arnold, until he too went on sick-leave after the double murders. At which time Cheif Inspector West took his title.
'Inspector In Charge Of Detectives On The Ground' was Frederick George Abberline, who was amoung those drafted into the area from the Home Office.
'Legal Adviser' was J.E. Davis Esq.
When Sir Charles Warren's resignation was announced and accepted on the 9th of November 1888, he was replaced by James Monro, who officially took up his position as Commissioner on the 3rd of December 1888. Monro was not even a member of the police force during the time of the Ripper murders, even though he did investigate the murder of Alice McKenzie in 1889. At the time, her murder was considered to be in the Ripper series. Monro's very last report on the Ripper case is dated 1896. He resigned 2 years before the Ripper file was closed and his handwritten memoirs make no mention of the Ripper case. Although we have no record of what his theories on Jack the Ripper were, we know that he told his grandson: "Jack the Ripper should have been caught". Monro left his eldest son, Charles, some written papers on the case. Charles told his younger brother that their father's theory was "a very hot potato!" We can only guess what James Monro's 'hot potato' was all about!
*'Law & Order' - Brian Ashley, *'The Jack the Ripper A-Z' - Fido, Begg, Skinner, *'The Many Faces Of Jack the Ripper' - M.J. Trow, *Website: 'The Metropolitan Police' http://landow.stg.brown.edu/victorian/history/police.html *'The Wonderful Story of London' - Harold Wheeler, *'Dictionary of London 1888' - Carles Dickens, *Home Office Files, *Scotland Yard Files, *Website: 'Casebook, Jack the Ripper' http://www.casebook.org