Tuesday, 13 November 1888.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
MONDAY, Nov. 12.
THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT.
Mr. PICKERSGILL asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department who was at present the head of the Criminal Investigation Department; whether the Home Office communicated with him directly, or through the Chief Commissioners of Metropolitan Police; and whether arrangements had been made at the Home Office for the investigation of crime apart from Scotland-yard.
Mr. MATTHEWS. - Mr. Anderson is, at present, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department. The practice at the Home Office has been to communicate directly with him on matters relating specially to his department. Where more than departmental interests are involved, communications are made through the Commissioner. The answer to the third question is in the negative. The investigation of crimes committed in the metropolis is entirely in the hands of the department in Scotland Yard.
Mr. PICKERSGILL asked whether the right hon. gentleman would now take the opportunity of giving the House some definite information with regard to the position of Mr. Monro. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. GENT-DAVIS asked whether the reason given by Mr. Monro for resigning the Assistant-Commissionership of the Police was that under the system pursued by the Chief Commissioner he could no longer be responsible for the administration of the Criminal Investigation Department; and whether papers upon the subject could be laid upon the table. (Cheers.)
Mr. MATTHEWS said that he had given the hon. member for Bethnal-green information upon the subject, on which he had clearly put a question to him with regard to the functions of Mr. Monro. He had informed the hon. member that he was deriving the benefit of the advice of Mr. Monro on matters relating to crime. Among these matters he might mention that he had had consultations with Mr. Monro on the whole subject of the organization of the Criminal Investigation Department with which he was more familiar than anybody else in the country. He need hardly say that that advice was most valuable upon the subject. As to the question but by his hon. friend the member for Kennington, he had stated to the hon. member for Bethnal-green that Mr. Monro had resigned because differences of opinion had arisen between himself and the Commissioner on questions of police administrations.
Mr. GENT-DAVIS asked whether the Home Secretary was in a position to lay the documents upon the table which would exactly show to the House the position in which Mr. Monro at present stood, and the absolute reasons which caused his resignation from a most important public office. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. MATTHEWS said that he had quoted with literal accuracy the reason assigned for the resignation. It was not customary to lay papers of this sort on the table of the House.
Mr. GENT-DAVIS. - Then I am afraid, Sir, we must get them to-night. (Cheers.)
RESIGNATION OF SIR CHARLES WARREN.
Mr. CONYBEARE asked the Home Secretary whether he could state the exact reason why the late head of the Detective Department in the Metropolitan Police resigned his position; whether Sir C. Warren had practically the direct control of the Detective Department; and whether, in view of the constant recurrence of atrocious murders, and the failure of the new organization and methods to detect the murderer, he would consider the propriety of making some change in the arrangements of Scotland-yard. Supplementing the question of which he had given notice, the hon. member further asked whether it was true that Sir Charles Warren had tendered his resignation, and whether it had been accepted. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. MATTHEWS. - I have already stated the reason why Mr. Monro resigned in answer to a question from the hon. member for Bethnal-green on the 6th inst., to which I beg to refer the hon. member. Mr. Anderson has now the direct control of the Criminal Investigation Department, but under the superintendence and control of the Chief Commissioner, as provided by statute. The failure, so far, to detect the persons guilty of the Whitechapel murders is due, not to any new organization, or to any defect in the existing system, but to the extraordinary cunning and secrecy which characterize these atrocious crimes. I have already, for some time, had under consideration the whole system of the Criminal Investigation Department, with a view to introducing any improvement, that experience may suggest. With regard to the final question of the hon. member for Camborne, I have to say that Sir Charles Warren did, on the 8th inst., tender his resignation to Her Majesty's Government, and that it has been accepted. (Loud Opposition cheers.)
THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS.
Mr. GRAHAM asked the Home Secretary whether he contemplated offering any additional reward for the capture of the Whitechapel murderer.
Mr. MATTHEWS. - I hope the House will allow me, at greater length than is usual in answering a question, to state why I have refrained from offering a reward in the Whitechapel cases. Before 1884 it was the frequent practice of the Home Office to offer rewards, sometimes of large amount, in serious cases. In 1883, in particular, several rewards, ranging from £200 to £2,000, were offered in such cases as the murder of Police-constable Boans and the dynamite explosions in Charles-street and at various railway stations. These rewards, like the reward of £10,000 in the Phoenix Park murders proved ineffectual, and produced no evidence of any value. In 1884 there was a change of policy. Early in that year a remarkable case occurred. A conspiracy was formed to effect an explosion at the German Embassy; to "plant" papers upon an innocent person; and to accuse him of the crime in order to obtain the reward which was expected. The revelation of this conspiracy led the then Secretary of State (the right hon. gentleman the member for Derby) to consider the whole question. He consulted the police authorities both in England and in Ireland, and the conclusions he arrived at were - that the practice of offering large and sensational rewards in cases of serious crime is not only ineffectual, but mischievous (hear, hear); that rewards produced, generally speaking, no practical result beyond satisfying a public demand for conspicuous action; that they operate prejudicially by relaxing the exertions of the police; and that they tend to produce false rather than reliable testimony. He decided, therefore, in all cases to abandon the practice of offering rewards, as they had been found by experience to be a hindrance rather than an aid in the detection of crime. These conclusions were publicly announced, and acted upon in two important cases in 1884 - one, a shocking murder and violation of a little girl at Middlesbrough; the other, the dynamite outrage at London-bridge, in which case the City offered a reward of £5,000. The principle thus established has since been adhered to, I believe, without exception at the Home Office. The whole subject was reconsidered in 1885 by Sir Richard Cross in a remarkable case of infanticide at Plymouth; and again in 1886 by the right hon. member for Edinburgh in the notorious case of Louisa Hart. On both occasions, after careful consideration, and with the concurrence of the best authorities, the principle was maintained, and rewards were refused. Since I have been at the Home Office I have followed the rule thus deliberately laid down and steadily adhered to by my predecessors. I do not mean that the rule may not be subject to exceptions, as, for instance, where it is known who the criminal is, and information is wanted only as to his hiding place, or on account of other circumstances of the crime itself. In the Whitechapel murders, not only are these conditions wanting at present, but the danger of a false charge is intensified by the excited state of public feeling. I know how desirable it is to allay that public feeling, and I should have been glad if the circumstances had justified me in giving visible proof that the authorities are not heedless or indifferent. I beg to assure the hon. member and the House that neither the Home Office nor Scotland-yard will leave a stone unturned in order to bring to justice the perpetrator of these abominable crimes, which have outraged the feelings of the entire community. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. HUNTER asked whether the Home Secretary had taken into consideration the propriety of extending the offer of pardon to an accomplice to the murders preceding the last, having regard to the fact that in the case of the first murder committed last Christmas, according to the dying woman, several persons were concerned in the murder.
Mr. MATTHEWS said it would not be proper that he should give an answer on the instant, but he would consider the suggestion.