16 November 1888
On the report of supply,
Mr. PICKERSGILL moved that the House disagree with the report so far as it related to 3,000£., being the salaries of chief constables and assistant chief constables of the metropolitan police force. Five of the six officers in question were ex-officers of the army. There were four chief constables, and the maximum salary of each was 800£. He wished to be perfectly frank with the House, and was not to lay upon the shoulders of Sir Charles Warren anything for which that officer was not responsible. He would remind the House that after the disturbances in Trafalgar-square in 1886 a committee was appointed to consider whether the metropolitan police force should be reorganized, and that committee recommended the appointment of four chief constables, each to have charge of one-fourth of the metropolitan area, and they also further recommended that the persons selected for the office should be gentlemen of good social standing, and who had seen good service in the army or the navy. Sir Charles Warren acted finally upon the recommendation of this report, and himself a military man, filling the position of chief commissioner, appointed military men to fill subordinate positions under him. The position of superintendents of police, he argued, ought to be improved by raising the maximum salary to which these officers could attain, and he protested against the militaryism of the mounted men in riding down the public.
Mr. CONYBEARE seconded the amendment.
Commander BETHELL said they were told that Sir Charles Warren’s resignation had been accepted because the authority of the Home Secretary must be paramount. This implied that Sir Charles Warren had in some way questioned the superior authority of the Home Secretary, but he denied that the late chief commissioner had verbally or in any other way challenged the authority in question. When the instructions with regard to the chief commissioner’s entering into a public discussion of duties connected with his office were formulated in 1879, they would have been sent to the then chief commissioner under a covering letter. He should like that letter read, because it might in some way modify or explain the instructions. The contention of Sir Charles Warren simply resolved itself into this - that no power had any authority to issue orders to the police excepting through the Chief Commissioner. Sir Charles Warren was undoubtedly a rigid disciplinarian, and, rightly or wrongly, he was under the impression that whether it was the Home Secretary or anyone else, someone had been issuing orders without his knowledge to those under his authority. The article in Murray’s Magazine was the ostensible cause, though not the real cause, of Sir Charles Warren’s resignation. Why was that article considered a greater dereliction of duty than any of the other articles which Sir Charles Warren had published? Why was there that disagreeable tone which pervaded the correspondence between the Home secretary and Sir Charles Warren? They had heard of previous tenders of resignation, and he should like to know how it had come about that the relations between Home secretary and Sir Charles Warren had become so strained? There were many who disliked the late Chief Commissioner’s views of discipline; but all admitted that some kind of discipline was necessary. If the conduct of the Chief Commissioner was to be criticized behind his back by his own officials, that would be absolutely destructive of all discipline. He was informed that complaints existed in correspondence made by Sir Charles warren to the Home Secretary that his subordinates, or some of them, had taken upon themselves to issue orders to the police generally under cover of the Home Secretary’s signature, but not always. Was this so? They heard a great deal about the relations between Sir Charles Warren and the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, and it had been asserted that the department had suffered by the action of Sir Charles Warren. He believed it was a fact which would not be disputed, that Sir Charles warren did bring to the notice of the Home Secretary a correspondence that the Criminal Investigation Department was suffering owing to the fact that the head of that department was not able to devote his time to his legitimate duties because he was employed elsewhere. If that was true, it was only an illustration of what he had been calling the attention of the House to, viz., the difficulty experienced by Sir Charles Warren owing to orders and criticisms being made about his force by his officials without his knowledge. - (Hear, hear.)
Mr. CHILDERS said that when Sir Charles Warren was appointed there was no other idea than that the police should continue to be a civil force, and should be governed on a civil and not military principle. When the appointment was made there was a large number of applications; these were reduced to six, three of them being officers of the Army or Navy, and three of them civilians. The Special Committee that sat to consider the organization of the force was composed of four civilians and one military officer (Sir Charles Warren), and the idea of militaryism was entirely excluded from their consideration. - (Hear.) The committee of 1886, confirming the recommendations of the committee of 1869, came to the conclusion that it was necessary to interpose between the commissioner and the superintendents officers of superior rank. They did not recommend the exclusive selection from the ranks of the army or navy. If the recommendations had been carried out, matters would have been placed on a more proper footing. He could not support the view of his hon. friend (Mr. Pickersgill). The doctrine laid down in the letter of Sir Charles Warren, in reply to that of the Secretary of State, was one which, if accepted, would be fatal to the Secretary of State’s authority, and he was extremely sorry thas it had been put forward. He felt certain from the approval which the Home Secretary had expressed of the speech of Sir W. Harcourt that the Government were of the same opinion as his right hon. friend, and he hoped the Home Secretary would be very careful in making a selection of Sir Charles Warren’s successor, and also that in any steps which might be taken the police might be treated as a civilian, and not as a military force. - (Hear, hear.)
Mr. MATTHEWS desired to say a word in answer to his hon. and gallant friend, Commander Bethell. He did not wish to say one word in condemnation of Sir Charles Warren, although he must say some things which might not be so agreeable to him as might be desirable. The hon. and gallant member, speaking as the mouthpiece of Sir Charles Warren, expressed the opinion that the Secretary of State, in issuing the minute of 1879, had committed an illegal act.
Commander BETHELL. - That was my view, and not Sir Charles Warren’s.
Mr. MATTHEWS said that was at all events the theory which the hon. and gallant member put forward. To assert that the minute of 1879 was ultra vires was to assert a principle which her Majesty’s Government could not admit, and which they regarded as so destructive of the whole constitutional principle of the government of the police force that they could not allow the matter to pass unquestioned. The Government entirely protested against the doctrine that the Chief Commissioner and his subordinates were to be allowed to carry on a wordy war by the agency of the Press uncontrolled by the House Secretary. As to the covering letter, it could not possibly have affected the interpretation of the circular. He was totally unaware that Sir Charles Warren had previously written articles, and in this case he should not have dreamt of censuring the article itself. What he did complain of was that it should have been written in defiance of the circular of the Secretary of State, which required that the Home Secretary’s sanction should be obtained before the publication. In his letter of resignation, Sir Charles Warren said he absolutely declined to accept instructions from the Home Secretary. If this was not rejecting the authority of the Secretary of State, he did not know what would be. It was no doubt true that many times communications had been sent to the Chief Commissioner by subordinates in the Home Office, and Sir Charles Warren had over and over again protested against this, and had stated that such communications had no binding force upon him; but if such communications were to be disputed and caviled at in that way, it must be subversive of all discipline and order in official life. Sir Charles warren had frequently protested against his suggestions and proposals being submitted to the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police. The Receiver, however, was a perfectly independent officer, and was in no way under the Chief Commissioner’s authority, and he (the Home Secretary) maintained that he was the proper authority to advise upon all questions relating to expense. It was only fair to say that Sir Charles warren had always contended that he alone was supreme in all matters relating to the police. He (the Home Secretary) most frankly admitted that the Criminal Investigation Department had in no way suffered in the hands of Sir Charles Warren. The late Chief Commissioner claimed to exercise more immediate control over that department, and no doubt was quite within his right in doing so. He strongly denied that there had been any change whatever of late in the relations between the Home Office and the department of the Chief Commissioner, or that there had been the slightest desire on the part of himself to encroach upon the authority of the Chief Commissioner. - (Cheers.)
Mr. STUART asked for an explanation of the financial condition of the police force. There was an excess of expenditure over revenue of 20,000£. The cost of the force had risen 44 per cent. in the last ten years.
Mr. JAS. ROWLANDS thought that the sooner the people of London were allowed to control their own police the better. He strongly objected to the mounted police.
Mr. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM compassionated the Home Secretary on the hitherto unknown difficulties of his office during the past year. He hoped his hon. friend would go to a division on this vote in order that the people of the metropolis might see that the Liberal party were at all events sincere and anxious on one subject.
On a division the amendment was negatived by 143 to 30.
Mr. STUART moved the adjournment of the debate.
The motion was rejected by 116 to 25.
Mr. W. H. SMITH appealed to hon. gentlemen to allow the vote to be taken.
Mr. MATTHEWS said that some months ago he had appointed a committee to examine into the whole question.
The report on supply was agreed to, and the House adjourned at two o’clock.
A deputation from the metropolitan police force waited on Sir Charles Warren at his private residence, St. George’s-road, yesterday, for the purpose of expressing their regret at his resignation. The deputation was composed of the superintendents of the various divisions, the only absentees being Superintendents Shore and Steel, who are on sick leave, and Superintendent Butt, who is out of London at present.
Superintendent DRAPER, of the H division, who was deputed to act as spokesman, repudiated the idea that the discipline which prevailed in the force was in any degree distasteful to the men so long as the regulations were administered with the fairness and equity which had characterised Sir Charles Warren’s tenure of office. Speaking more especially for the superintendents, he might say that since Sir Charles had been commissioner they had been able to do their work, not only much more efficiently, but with much more comfort to themselves. They felt that he was always prepared to take the responsibility for and to uphold them in what they did, and they consequently never lost that confidence without which arduous duties could not be satisfactorily discharged. As for the men, there were only two matters which had given rise to any feeling at all since Sir Charles took office. One of these was the new set of regulations in regard to drunkenness, and the other was the question of pensions for injury received whilst on duty. The superintendents knew perfectly well that the commissioner was not responsible for these decisions, but the constables were not so well informed.
Superintendent FISHER, of the A division, said that, although he was not deputed to speak, he could not resist congratulating Sir Charles on the extraordinary change he had effected in the status of the superintendents. Before his appointment superintendents had no position whatever, and were constantly in receipt of contradictory orders. Now they were entirely under the control of one person - the Commissioner - and could perform their duties in a manner never before possible.
SIR CHARLES WARREN thanked the deputation warmly for their assurances of esteem and consideration. He said it had always been his endeavour to combine discipline with justice to every member of the force, and it was gratifying to know that his efforts had not been altogether without success. With regard to the first point touched upon Mr. Draper (the new regulations respecting drunkenness in the force), he explained that although he had very strong views on the subject of intemperance, he was not responsible for the order which had been recently promulgated. The order emanated from the Home Secretary, who on several occasions called attention to the fact that the punishments for drunkenness were merely nominal, and ultimately instructed him (Sir Charles) to issue most stringent orders in reference to the offense. On the second point the was equally free from reproach. He had recommended several men on the chief surgeon’s certificate for pensions on the ground that they had received injury while on duty, but the Home Secretary had taken a different view of the matter. In conclusion, Sir Charles said he had been greatly disappointed at having found no opportunity to visit the various divisions during his tenure of office. The work of consolidating the orders, on which he had been steadily engaged, had occupied so much of his time that he had seldom been able to leave Whitehall-place. During the past few weeks, however, he had at last succeeded in clearing the decks, and he had hoped now to see the men in their respective divisions. He again thanked them for their kindness, and assured them that their willing and cordial co-operation in such reforms as he had ventured to propose would be ore of his pleasantest recollections of his commissionership.
Nothing of importance transpired yesterday respecting the Whitechapel murders. At the east-end police-station last night no one was in custody charged with complicity in the crimes, some men who had been arrested the preceding night having been discharged as soon as their identity had been established. The agitation in regard to the alleged insufficient police protection in Spitalfields is taking a different form, and it is expected that within a few days a deputation from the district will wait upon the Home Secretary. The extraordinary statement of Matthew Packer, of Berner-street, caused some sensation, but it is stated that the police do not attach much importance to it, and they have not yet discovered the man who it is alleged had the interview with Packer. Much of the time of the detectives is taken up in investigating the statements lodged by individuals who regard everybody with suspicion in the district, and report the most trivial circumstances to the police.
The police at Battersea are in search of a man who is stated to answer the description of the man wanted for the murder of Mary Jane Kelly. Yesterday he entered a coffee-house in that neighbourhood and displayed some hair, which is stated to have been human, with congealed blood attached. Singularly enough no one though fit detain him, but information was subsequently given to the police. It is understood that he left the hair behind him.
At the Marlborough-street Police Court yesterday, before Mr. Newton, Jane Hickley, 30, described as a general dealer, of Montagu-place, Blackfriars-road, was charged with being disorderly.
Constable Vaughan, 429 D, said that shortly after ten o’clock on Wednesday night there was a great commotion in the Tottenham-court-road, and a large crowd collected owing to the prisoner accusing a gentleman, who apparently she did not know, of being "Jack the Ripper." She insisted upon the gentleman being taken to the police-station, and became so violent that the witness had to remove her by force.
In defense, the prisoner said that a gentleman having a coat on his arm, and carrying a black bag, accosted her, and asked her to accompany him down a passage. When she saw his face she became so frightened that she ran as fast as she could into the Tottenham-court-road. She saw the same gentleman again, as she thought, and asked a constable to take him into custody for being "Jack the Ripper," but the officer would not do so. She, in consequence, became more excited, and scarcely knew what she was about.
Mr. Newton imposed a fine of 10s., with the alternative of seven days’ imprisonment, remarking that a stop must be put to scares being created without any foundation.
At the Lambeth Police Court yesterday, before Mr. Partridge, John Benjamin Perryman, 40, hairdresser, living in Pennethorne-road, Peckham, was charged with being disorderly in Old Kent-road.
On Wednesday night Detectives Leek and Reed were in the Old Kent-road, and hearing a disturbance went to the spot. They found the prisoner surrounded by a crowd, and it was feared he would be roughly handled, as he had declared himself to be "Jack the Ripper." The officers ascertained that when making the statement he acted in a most violent manner. He flourished his arms about and exhibited a black leather bag, about which he made some remarks. He caught hold of several females and caused considerable alarm. The officers, after much difficulty, got the prisoner to the station, being followed by an excited mob. At the station the bag carried by the prisoner was searched, and in it was found two pairs of scissors, a dagger and sheath, and a life preserver.
Mr. Partridge asked if the prisoner wished to account for carrying these things about, and he said he was going to have them ground. It was further stated that the prisoner was known as the mad barber of Peckham.
A sister of the prisoner said he had been excited for along time. She knew he had a dagger, but for what purpose he kept it she was not aware.
Mr. Partridge said he should remand the prisoner, and if he was not in his right mind it would perhaps be necessary to send him to an asylum.
The prisoner, who seemed to treat the matter as a joke, then asked to be allowed out on bail, but looked rather astonished when Mr. Partridge declined to accede to his request.
At Southwark Police Court yesterday, before Mr. Wynham Slade, a respectably-dressed young man, giving the name of Collingwood Hilton Fenwick, aged 26, was placed in the dock, charged with unlawfully cutting and wounding a young woman named Ellen Worafold, with intent to do her grievous bodily harm.
The prosecutrix, aged 19, stated that about one o’clock on Thursday morning she met the prisoner in Westminster-bridge-road, and he accompanied her to her lodgings at Ann’s-place, Waterloo-road. On arriving there the prisoner stabbed her in the abdomen. She cried out for help and made for the door, but the prisoner put his back to it, and prevented her from going out by holding up a small penknife at her. She then found herself bleeding very much, and also saw blood on the prisoner’s hands. She again called out to a young man living in the next room. The prisoner then said to her, "Let me go," and she said, "Not until I fetch a policeman." Upon that the prisoner opened the door and ran down the stairs, and the witness followed him. At that moment the young man appeared on the landing and asked the witness what was the matter. She replied, "I believe he has stabbed me!" The man went down to stop him, while she went to fetch a policeman, and the prisoner pointed the knife at him in a threatening manner. She succeeded in getting out, and the prisoner followed and ran away. The young man gave him chase, and caught him in Tower-street. A plain-clothes constable came up shortly afterwards, and the witness having told him what the prisoner had done, he was taken to the Kennington-road station. On being charged the prisoner made no reply.
In answer to the prisoner, who said he had very little recollection of what happened, witness denied that she had taken any money out of his pocket.
James Peters said he lived with his wife at Ann’s-place, in the next room to the prosecutrix. About one o’clock on Thursday morning he heard his name shouted loudly twice. He jumped out of bed and went on to the landing to ascertain what was the matter. He saw the prosecutrix on the stairs and the prisoner at the street door trying to open it. The prosecutrix complained that she had been stabbed, and showed him her hands, which were covered with blood. Witness then ran back to hiss room to put his trousers on, and then ran downstairs. As he got down the door opened, and prisoner got out. On seeing witness prisoner ran away, and he gave him chase. He overtook the prisoner in Tower-street, and seeing him the latter said, "If you will let me go I will give you a sovereign." Witness said, "Yes, when a policeman comes." Prisoner then gave him up the knife - a small pearl-handled one - with a short blade about an inch long.
Mr. Nairn. - Had you seen the knife before?
Witness. - Yes, sir, when I came down the first time he held the knife out towards me and threatened to strike me with it. I was frightened to go near him, because I thought he was "Jack the Ripper." Witness, in continuation, said, after detaining the prisoner for a short time, a plain-clothes constable arrived, and prosecutrix gave the prisoner in charge. Witness went out to dress himself. He afterwards went to the station and gave up the knife produced.
Dr. Frederick W. Farr, acting surgeon to the L division of police, said he had examined the prosecutrix and found her suffering from a punctured wound half an inch long, which entered the flesh in the lower part of the abdomen. It was not a dangerous wound, but it had bled profusely and would take a considerable time in healing. He did not examine the prisoner, but he appeared to have been drinking. The wound was such as might have been caused by the knife produced. (At this stage of the proceedings the prisoner appearing to be faint was allowed to be seated in the dock, and was supplied with a glass of water by the deputy gaoler, which had the effect of reviving him.)
Constable Bettle said the prisoner was given into his charge by the witness Peters, and on the road to the station said, "I have made a great fool of myself tonight. I have made a mistake which will be a warning to me for some time to come."
Inspector Jackson told the magistrate that the prisoner gave a correct address, and was stated to be a gentleman of independent means. At his lodgings, where he had resided for three years, he bore a very good character.
Mr. Slade remanded the prisoner for a week.