22 November 1888
The question who is to succeed Sir Charles warren as First Commissioner of Police is one to which the Government will do well to pay close heed. As soon as their decision becomes known, as it must do in a few days, it will be subjected to the severest criticism. It is certain that the Radical organs of disorder will furiously assail the new man, whoever he may be, and use all their well-known arts to discredit him in the eyes of the public; but the Government can easily afford to treat with contempt empty abuse of this kind.
Outside and apart from these attacks, however, the Government must be prepared to meet criticism which, though not necessarily hostile, will be keen and searching. The Chief Commissioner of Police exercises such an important influence upon the daily lives of the crowded millions of the metropolis that they have a real and solid interest in the question, What sort of man is he likely to be? It is impossible for the Government to please all even of the friends of law and order, and it is easily conceivable that they may seriously displease many of them. There are several clearly defined rocks ahead to which the Government will do well to give a wide berth.
In the first place the new Commissioner must not be a mere soldier. Our Metropolitan police force is in no sense a military one, and the less it tends to become one the more efficient, and what is perhaps saying the same thing, the more popular it will become. Of course, there are some soldiers whose instincts all lean to the civilian side, who are in sympathy with popular rights, and who have kept themselves in touch with the instincts of the people generally. If one of these can be found who is also possessed of the other qualifications for the important office now vacant, the fact of his being a soldier need not be an insuperable objection to his selection-indeed, it may be plausibly argued that his strict training and his being accustomed to command large bodies of men would be distinct advantages in his favour. But it cannot be too clearly laid down that if a soldier should be selected, he must be a man who is prepared to keep his military feelings in a very subordinate position. In any case, it is quite certain that if the new Chief Commissioner is a soldier the fact will tell against him with the populace, who have a healthy objection to the intrusion of anything like militarism into evil life.
Another class of men to be avoided is the mere politician. No greater or more fatal blunder could be made than the appointment of a political partisan as a reward for Party services, either rendered or to be rendered. Here again, however, as in the case of the soldier, it may be possible to find a man who has distinguished himself as a politician, and yet who would be able to bring to his new duties a perfectly free and unbiased mind. The Judicial Bench affords many striking examples of the facility with which Englishmen can free themselves from all trace of partisanship when called upon to discharge high public duties. But on the whole, knowing as we do beforehand how bitterly the new Commissioner is certain to be attacked by the disreputable newspapers, the foundation of whose creed is disorder and license, and how these attacks will be envenomed if any suggestion of political partisanship can be leveled against the new man, it will be just as well to steer clear of this particular danger altogether.
A mere "ranker." However high a position he may have attained would almost certainly be a failure. The head of the London police requires to be a man of wide sympathies and of high culture and intelligence, as well as of firm will and decision of character; and we believe it will be found quite impossible to select such a man from amongst those who have risen from the ranks.
The whole question is a difficult one, and we do not envy Ministers the task with which they are confronted. We have every confidence in their judgment, and believe that their final choice will be as good a one as the circumstances permit. But all the same, the interests involved are so great, and the consequences of a mistake will be so serious, that the residents in the metropolis may well be excused an unusual amount of anxiety, pending the publication of the Government's decision.
An indispensable qualification in the new Chief Commissioner of Police, says a contemporary this morning, is a good thick skin. "He must display that good-humoured composure under provocation, which is one of the most homourable and distinguishing features of the members of the London force." 'Tis a truly admirable quality, and even the enemies of our police force will admit the possession of it by the average constable-when the provocation comes with sufficient force behind it. The London police are very fine fellows, and we mean no disparagement to their undoubted merits when we hint that this patience under provocation is more often exhibited when the annoyance comes from a crowd some thousands strong, than when it is offered by the British tax-payer in the singular number.
A decent but poorly dressed woman, giving the name of Louisa Day, was charged, at Worship-street, with being a person of unsound mind not under proper control. Police-constable 499J, said that the prisoner entered the Bethel Green Police-station on Wednesday night, and said she was in danger of her life from "Jack the Ripper," that she was related to the Royal family, and made other curious statements, so that the inspector, after questioning her, ordered her to be charged as a wandering lunatic.
Mr. Saunders (to the prisoner): What have you to say about yourself?
Prisoner: Well, sir, I did mention the Prince of Wale's name, but that was all. I said he was my brother but, you know, we are all brothers and sisters. (Laughter.) It is true that I am in danger of my life - not, perhaps, from Jack the Ripper, but from others who follow me about. I have been lodging in Dorset-street, and was there the other night when I heard the gang threatening Mr. Charrington's life.
Mr. Saunders: Have you a husband?
Yes, sir, in the Mile-end infirmary. My daughter is with the Bishop of Bedford.
Mr. Saunders: I think if your life is in danger we had better have you looked after, and the constable shall take you to the workhouse. There they will inquire into the state of your mind.
The prisoner, who behaved very quietly, curtseyed to the magistrate before leaving the dock.
AN ARREST IN WHITECHAPEL.
THE MAN MAKES A DESPERATE RESISTANCE.
It is reported a man was arrested in the East-end early this morning under very suspicious circumstances. Between one and two o'clock, a woman, who was in company with a man in a narrow thoroughfare near Brick-lane was heard to call "Murder" and "Police" loudly. At the same moment the man was seen making off at a rapid pace. He was pursued through several streets by the police and detectives who have lately been concentrated in considerable numbers in the neighbourhood, and was captured near Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton's Brewery. The man is reported to have drawn a knife and made a desperate resistance, but he was eventually overpowered and conveyed to the Commercial-street Station.
It is stated that the man, who attempted to murder the woman in a lodging-house in George-street, yesterday, in his flight passed two policemen, who made no attempt to arrest him
At an early hour this morning the detectives engaged in the cases had completed their investigation into the affair, and from these there appears to be absolutely no foundation for supposing that the man wanted for this outrage is in any way connected with the recent series of mutilations in the same neighbourhood. The police have obtained an elaborate description of the individual from several persons to whom he is known. In fact, there are reasons to believe that they are possessed of his name, but, as regards his address, he has apparently no particular abode.
He is well known, however, and his apprehension is practically assured. It appears that the injured woman lived with her assailant for some months, but subsequently separated. They recently renewed their acquaintance, and it has been discovered that on the morning preceding the outrage they were together in a tavern in Brick-lane. From what has been gleaned, a dispute arose, when they adjourned to the registered lodging-house in George-street, in reference to some money which it is alleged the woman endeavoured to take from the man. An alteration ensued, and a conflict resulted. The man who is stated to be a sailor, is described as having received injuries to his face.
The Central News says the following is the true account of the captured effected this morning: After an exciting chase he was captured and taken to Commercial-street Station. The report that he tried to injure his pursuers with a knife is contradicted by the police.
The Central News says: The man who was taken into custody near Brick-lane early this morning was simply arrested for assaulting a prostitute, and will be charged with that offence before the magistrates this morning. The case has no connection whatever with yesterday's outrage. On later inquiries at the Commercial-street Police-station the Central News was informed that the man wanted for the murderous assault on Mrs. Farmer had not yet been apprehended.
The man arrested late last night in connection with the outrage on the woman Farmer, at George-street, Spitalfields, is still in custody at Commercial-street, Police-station, but the police decline to say whether they attach any importance to the arrest. George-street is perfectly quiet this morning, and the excitement seems to have already died out. No arrests have been made beyond the one last night.