The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 3 February 1893.
An Eastern Post man found his way the other night to the comfortable little residence of Superintendent Arnold in Arbour Square, and, with an absence of remorse born of long practice, proceeded without more ado to interview the popular Superintendent of the H division of police.
"And so," commenced our man, "you are going to leave the service?"
"Yes," replied the Superintendent, "after having been in it for eight and thirty years."
"You've had some curious experiences during that time?" ventured the reporter.
And then the Superintendent commenced the story of his career.
Here it is.
"It was in 1855 that I first joined the force as a police-constable in the D Division. Curious-looking policemen, you would have said we were, had you seen us then, with our heavy tall hats, our frock-coat tunics, our rattles, and our batons in our pockets. But I wasn't much impressed with the police force at that time, and when the opportunity offered I volunteered for service in the Crimea, and was attached for some time to the Commissariat department at Varna. I returned to this country in 1856, and commenced my connection with the East End by becoming a police-constable in this division. A short period of service there was followed by my removal to Shadwell, where I formed one of the body of 80 men who were put on to special service during the Bryan King riots. You remember them, of course? No? Well, Bryan King was a clergyman of very High Church propensities, so much so, that he and his followers were called Puseyites. People used to flock to St. George's Church, more often for the purpose of kicking up a row than taking part in the devotional service, and at last, so riotous became the congregations, that the aid of the police had to be called in, and for something like twelve months, at every service, a body of 80 of we police was marched into the church, and had to stay there till the service was finished. Another period of service at Arbour Square, where I was promoted to the rank of sergeant, was followed by me being drafted to Bow. I was serving there during the time of the murder of Briggs by Muller on the North London Railway, and was called into the "Mitford Castle" to see the dying man, whose head was literally battered in. Muller, the murderer, fled to New York, and was subsequently captured. From Bow I was drafted to the B Division in Westminster, where I was promoted to an Inspectorship, and, after a little excitement there during the time of the Fenian scare, I was sent back to the H Division as the Chief Inspector. That was in 1874, so that I have now had a continuous association with the H Division as Chief Inspector and Superintendent for eighteen years. The first exciting event I remember, while acting in that capacity, was the explosion at the Tower, resulting in the capture of Burton and Cunningham. Detective Abberline was on special service at the time, and it was entirely owing to his prompt action in closing the gates of the Tower that Cunningham was caught - a capture which ultimately resulted in the taking of his colleague, Burton. Among the more notable events in which I have had to take an active part since then, have been the great Dock Strike of 1889, the capture of Lefroy, the murderer, the Lipski murder, the "Black Tuesday" of 1885, when, after the Trafalgar Square Riots, all the East End tradesmen expected their shops to be looted, the return of the troops from Egypt, the visits of the Queen to the London Hospital and the People's Palace, the Wainwright murder, and, of course, the Whitechapel murders.
To take the last - as it is the more important event - first, I still hold what you may consider some curious opinions on that subject. For instance, for reasons which I am sure you would consider sufficiently convincing, but which are too long to detail now, I still hold to the opinion that not more than four of those murders were committed by the same hand. They were the murders of Annie Chapman in Hanbury Street, Mrs. Nicholls in Buck's Row, Elizabeth Stride in Berner Street, and Mary Kelly in Mitre Square. We police came in for a very large share of blame at the hands of the public at that time for not acting as some people considered we ought to have acted in the matter, but I can assure you that no stone was left unturned by the police in endeavouring to detect the criminal. We were told, for instance, that we ought to have used bloodhounds. I can tell you now that we had two of the finest bloodhounds in England soon after the perpetration of the earliest of the murders; but what was the use of them after some hundreds of people had passed over the spot where the murderer would have escaped? Our detective department was very considerably augmented at that time, and so was our general force. We had some of the very finest men from all parts of London, but all their efforts were useless.
Yes. The Wainwright murder was a terrible affair. I shall never forget my introduction to Harry Wainwright, who was subsequently executed for the murder. I was called one night with the cry that the Pavilion was alight. It turned out to be Wainwright's warehouse next door to the Pavilion. I had a long chat with Wainwright afterwards. He impressed me as being about the last man on earth who was likely to do the deed of which he was afterwards convicted, and yet, according to the evidence subsequently brought forward, at the time I was talking to him, the mutilated and lime-burnt body of poor Harriet Lane must have been lying in the shop opposite - little more than 20 yards away. I was almost inclined to share in the opinion expressed by a good many people - that Harry was innocent of the crime - and that opinion is to a certain extent supported by the story I heard only the other day (I know not on what authority) that Tom, who was sent to prison and afterwards went abroad, has recently died and made a confession that he was the murderer.
Another murder in which I took an active professional interest was Lipski's. I was convinced from all the evidence I heard that he was the murderer. You remember how he was respited for a time owing to the agitation got up in his favour. I could tell you a story about the origin of that agitation - but I won't just now. In the end Lipski was hanged, as I knew from the first that he was bound to be.
Poor Lefroy! What a miserable-looking specimen of humanity he was when we traced him to Smith Street in Stepney and dragged him from his hiding place to the station. Do you know who traced him there - traced him like a bloodhound? Some people know it, but the majority don't. I can tell you now. He was tracked down by one who was formerly his bosom friend.
So much for exciting incidents. And now for hard, matter-of-fact detail. The East-end is better protected to-day than ever it has been - and, indeed, I may say, is better protected than a good many other parts of the metropolis I could name. It is now, and recollect I am speaking simply of the one and a quarter square miles covered by the H division - under the care of one superintendent of police, 29 inspectors, 45 sergeants, and 560 police constables. It has some of the smartest men attached to its criminal investigation department. I need only mention the names of Detectives Thicke and Read as an instance of that. The condition of the East End itself has very materially improved since when I knew it first. I can go back to the time when the drinking-houses and dancing-saloons were open all night, when certain public-houses in the Ratcliff Highway were the resorts of the biggest ruffians that the world contained, and when fatal fights were of almost daily occurrence. Now all that has changed. The lot of the policeman and the character of the men has also very much changed. They are now well fed, well housed, and well paid. They are not overworked, and they are trained to give their evidence clearly, truthfully, and without the slightest bias either way. The criminal community has changed too. You can still see your Fagans and your Nancys, but Bill Sykes, instead of resorting to a common lodging house in Whitechapel or a thieves kitchen, now lives in a luxurious country house, speaks two languages, and plays tennis. The clever thieves have gone from the East End.
Thanks for your good wishes. Good-night."
|Dissertations: A Mystery Play : Police Opinions on Jack the Ripper|
|Message Boards: Thomas Arnold|
|Police Officials: Thomas Arnold|
|Press Reports: East London Observer - 11 June 1892|
|Press Reports: Eastern Post - 3 February 1893|
|Press Reports: Eastern Post and City Chronicle - 11 March 1893|
|Press Reports: Times [London] - 16 March 1893|