4 September 1888
The Police Commissioners, we are informed, "have sanctioned the erection of police alarm posts in Islington as an experiment in notifying the police of accidents, disturbances, &c." The new alarm-post is made on much the same plan as the present fire-alarm posts, with the difference that they can only be set in motion by some one who has a key. Keys will be supplied to shopkeepers and others residing near the alarm, and when a policeman is wanted in a hurry all that will be necessary is to find a shopkeeper who has a key, to wake him up, if asleep, to wait while he looks for the key on his ring, in the safe, in the family chest of drawers, behind the piano, in the pockets of the trousers he wore last week, in his wife's work-box, and elsewhere until his quest is successful.
When, all this has been done, and when the shopkeeper has assured himself, by documentary evidence and otherwise, that the applicant is a responsible person, and not a practical joker, there will only be the further delay of getting the sleepy custodian of the key into his clothes and bringing him to the alarm, of which the working is, we are glad to hear, "extremely simple." It is a pity that the working of the system for getting at the working of the alarm is not a bit more complex, in which case it might take a prize as a champion suggestion for "how not to do it."
The woman assaulted on Clapham Common, on Saturday night last, gives a somewhat vague account of her proceedings prior to the outrage of which she was the victim, and can only guess that she must have been drugged and then led on to the Common in a state of semi-unconsciousness. The police, we are informed, "hardly seem to believe the woman's story." Why? Well, "because no suspicious persons were observed by them on Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday morning, special men being put on duty on Saturday nights in the locality." This is a good thing in the way of reasons. We shall hear next that the police decline to believe in the Whitechapel murder, because the constable on duty did not see any murderers knocking about loose.
A POLICE REASON.
IS NOT DISCOVERED.
A POLICE REASON.
There is a pretty unanimous opinion amongst most of the members of the Metropolitan Police Force that the reason of the want of success, or, as the public have it, the want of energy and intelligence on the part of the detective force, in discovering the perpetrators of great crimes is not far to seek. According to them, in the first place the order prohibiting a constable to participate in any reward offered by the authorities for the capture of a criminal has worked a twofold evil-it lessens the inducement to extra exertion on the part of the men, and, what is worse, breeds a system of deception, as in many instances a third party is put forward as the giver of the information, and after the conviction of the offender the detective and his friend divide the reward, in the case of a reward offered by a private individual even after permission to receive is granted, toll is taken by the "chiefs" before the remainder is handed over to the recipient. With regard to the "inquiry" expenses, which come from a secret service fund practically unlimited, the men complain that whilst the heads of the department-who, by the way, pass their own accounts-spend any sum they choose, the expenses of the men are so rigidly cut down that they are compelled to pay the informers out of their own pockets if they wish to gain a clue, or otherwise risk a bullying for their extravagance. The worst case of all, however, is the cruelly unjust and unfair manner to which divisional (uniform) constables, and more especially young constables, are treated. No matter how cleverly one of them may affect a capture, discover or prevent a robbery, or recover stolen property, the moment the charge is booked at the police-station-that moment the case is taken out of his hands and a detective (plain clothes man) is told off to take charge of the case, find out previous convictions, and, if necessary, prove them, and in the end get all the credit and praise for the manner in which the arrest has been made, and whilst the real discoverer has to content himself with a back seat, or if he does, when in the witness box, give a true account of his share in the transaction, receives a severe reprimand-this begets a sense of injustice, followed by inevitable carelessness. Lastly, of late, fears of the military system of reporting in writing every trivial circumstance, which reports are seldom read, has been insisted on and a fine inflicted for neglect; whilst in many instances such reports have been handed over to favourites, thus depriving men of the credit of their labour. This has begotten a want of confidence, which has been increased by the prohibition of the men taking any particular line of their own without first submitting it to the "chief". Until these evils are remedied, there is little hope of an intelligent, energetic, and combined action on the part of the Scotland-yard officers-at least, so say the men themselves.
A correspondent, writing in answer to "A.D.V.," whose article, "A Plea for a Central Mortuary," appeared in our issue of yesterday, says: "Having seen an observation respecting the senseless action of the police inspector of Bethnal Green Division, I made an application to see the body for identification. After a considerable deal of trouble I was admitted, I having lost sight of my sister for seven years. The said intelligent Inspector asked me if the above was a prostitute. How very kind!"
The Manchester Courier says: We learn that Sir Charles Warren has decided to resign the position of Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, which he accepted on the retirement of Sir Edmund Henderson after the West-end Socialist riots. The salary attaching to the office is £1,500 a year. It is exceedingly profitable that the appointment will be offered to Mr. Malcolm Wood, the Chief Constable of Manchester. Mr. Wood was an applicant when Sir Charles Warren was selected, and his admirers and qualifications were recognised in very influential quarters, but it was thought desirable that the Chief Commissioner should be a military man. We believe that a departure is likely to be made from this practice, in filling the vacancy which is soon expected to occur.