29 November 1888
For the terrible murder of a child at Havant the police have arrested not the "tall man in a black coat," but the boy who gave the alarm when the outrage was committed. This development of the story is described by our Correspondent as not unexpected. There were indeed in the narrative which we published yesterday some peculiar features which would exonerate the police from blame for suspecting the child. It is none the less startling, however, to be face to face with the fact that suspicion has become so strong as to lead to the arrest of a boy of eleven years for murder. Should a crime of this kind be brought home to the child, how could such horror be accounted for? If it can be conceived that the Whitechapel murders may act upon the imagination of children in this manner, the public anxiety on the subject of the impunity of the East end criminal will be intensified to a most distressing degree.
If Mr. Monro is to be congratulated on his appointment as Commissioner of Police, he must also be condoled with on the whole circumstances of his promotion. They do not tend to restore confidence in the wisdom of the Home Office, where, unfortunately, the ultimate control of the Metropolitan Police still resides. Sir Charles Warren was certainly not a brilliant success at Scotland yard; but if anything is likely to bring about a reaction in his favour, and to create the impression that he has not had fair play from Mr. Matthews, it is the manner in which Mr. Monro's triumph over his late chief has been brought about. Nobody has been allowed to ascertain the nature of the duties allotted to Mr. Monro since the notorious breach between him and Sir Charles Warren. The public will not be to blame if they ask whether the new Commissioner was not destined for the post from the moment he entered the Home Office. In such circumstances the position of Sir Charles Warren may well have been intolerable. Clearly if a choice was to have been made between Sir Charles Warren and Mr. Monro it ought to have been made when the original quarrel, whatever it was, arose. Mr. Monro, we are sorry to say, does not begin his new duties to advantage in thus starting as a conspicuous protégé of the Home Secretary. It has already been felt that Mr. Monro's Indian training predisposed him in favour of the methods rather of the political agent than of the English citizen policeman. He will now have to guard against the adoption of any policy that would proclaim him the agent of the Home Secretary, especially in matters connected with Irish policy. It is bad enough to have the Attorney General associated with private parties in an endeavour to bring home guilt to politicians whom he should prosecute in the name of the State if he thinks he has a case. To have the head of the Metropolitan Police also privately assisting the Times could not be tolerated. No one will grudge Mr. Monro any further laurels he may gain in tracing out dynamite conspiracies and bringing to punishment the plotters of diabolical crime. We hope he will make short work of dynamiters, if any are left, and of Whitechapel murderers too. But if he wishes to retain a difficult post, it will be necessary for him to remember that his work is not political; that in this cosmopolitan metropolis he must have no anti Irish prejudice even if he finds the Government have; and, above all, that he will, sooner or later, be made directly responsible to the free people of London, whose servant he virtually is, and ought actually to be.