Tuesday, 23 July 1889
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - When the series of murders occurred last year you allowed me to point out that the act of some maniac was a less evil than the state of life shown to be common in this neighbourhood.
At the time I was encouraged to hope that the freeholders of a large property which is the heart of this criminal quarter might have applied, or have put it in the powers of others to apply, some radical remedy, by closing as leases fell in the houses in which men and women live as beasts, where crime is protected, and where children or country people are led on to ruin, or by employing watchmen to enforce order and make the neighbourhood distasteful to the wicked, or by getting Parliamentary powers to clear the district as one morally insanitary.
Nothing has been done, though many were ready with time and money, if the freeholders would have moved. The houses in the hands of the same occupants are put to the same base uses, and the streets still offer almost every night scenes of brutality and degradation. A body of inhabitants – residents at Toynbee-hall and others – have patrolled the neighbourhood during the last nine months on many nights every week between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Their record tells of rows in which stabbing is common, but on which the police are able to get no charges; of fights between women stripped to the waist, of which boys and children are spectators; of the protection afforded to thieves, and of such things as could only occur where opinion favours vice. The district in which all this happens is comparatively small; it forms, indeed, a black spot, three or four acres in extent, in the midst of a neighbourhood which in no way deserves the reputation for ill-conduct.
A district so limited might be easily dealt with, and its reform is more important than even the capture of a murderer, who would have no victims if they were not prepared by degradation. Its reform will be possible when public opinion will condemn as offenders whose who directly or indirectly live on the profits of vice.
I am truly yours, SAMUEL A. BARNETT.
St. Jude’s, Whitechapel, July 20.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - Now that public feeling is raised to red hot pitch with regard to the atrocities which are constantly recurring in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel, a suggestion which, if acted upon, would greatly increase the difficulties of the murderer, may perhaps find favour with the police authorities. In Liverpool for some time past the policemen on night duty have worn rubber-soled boots, and are able to move about without advertising their whereabouts by the heavy tramp which announces the approach of our London policemen. The system has been found to work well, and week by week burglars and other criminals have been caught red-handed, who, if the officers had worn regulation police boots, would most probably have escaped. If London condescends to take a leaf from Liverpool in this respect as an experiment, I feel certain that numbers of criminals would be brought to light, who hitherto have escaped simply by possessing a pair of sharp ears with which they can detect the tramp, tramp, tramp of an approaching officer in the silence of the night.
Yours, &c., THOS. BENNETT PARKINSON.
Sutton, Surrey, July 20.