The Times (London)
3 February 1891
Colonel Sir Edward R. C. Bradford, the Commissioner of Police of the metropolis, has presented his report for the year 1889 to the Secretary of State, and this now published in the form of a Blue-book.
The authorized strength of the force at the end of 1889 was 30 superintendents, 847 inspectors, 1452 sergeants, 12,396 constables, a total of 14,725, being an increase of ten inspectors, 83 sergeants, and 371 constables since the end of 1888. Of these four superintendents, 55 inspectors, 193 sergeants, and 1409 constables were employed on special duties and the number actually available for service in the metropolis, exclusive of those specially employed and those who services were paid for, was 13,064. About 60 per cent of this number are required for night duty from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The remaining 40 per cent are detailed for duty in four reliefs in town districts and two reliefs in country districts from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The district guarded by the metropolitan police extends over a circle with a radius of 15 miles from Charing-cross, exclusive of the City of London, and contains an area of 688 square miles, The rateable value of the area in the year 1889 was set down as £35,089,558, but Sir Edward Bradford says that it is impossible to form any estimate of the enormous actual value of the property in charge of the police. The police rate is now fixed at 9d. in the pound, of which 4d. in the pound is payable out of the local taxation account under the Local Government Act, 1888. The total amount levied on the parishes for the year ended March 31, 1890, was £734,931, and the local taxation account contributed £584,826 for the police fund, while the actual pay of the force, including all grades, was £1,130,570. Four new stations were completed and opened in the course of the year, and the large house in Shaftesbury-avenue was also taken over and occupied. Five new stations were in progress in outlying districts, of which four are now complete, and several alterations were made in existing stations. Since the close of the year 1889 an augmentation of 1,000 men has been sanctioned, and this, Sir Edward Bradford says, will tend in some degree to lighten the strain which has been put upon the police.
The criminal returns for the year (which are given in a table in the appendix) show a marked improvement upon the statistics of 1888. It is noticed that 17 murders were recorded without a single conviction having been obtained. The explanation given of this may be interesting:--
“In eight of these cases the person actually causing deaths were made amendable, but escaped the capital penalty; two of them on the ground of insanity, and the others because the homicides were held not to amount to murder. In four of the nine remaining cases the persons against whom coroners’ juries found verdicts of willful murder had committed suicide before their crimes were discovered. In one the murderer was tracked to New York and arrested there, but committed suicide in prison. There are four cases only, therefore, to be accounted for. One of these was the case of a prostitute who was found lying in Algernon-road, Lewisham, on the 10th of Febuary, and who died on the 14th from a fracture of the skull, suppose to have been caused by a blow. The second was the case of Elizabeth Jackson, also a prostitute, portions of whose dismembered body were found, some in Chelsea, some in Battersea, and some in the Thames. The next was the case of Alice M’Kenzie, whose death in Castle-alley, on the 17th of July, was the last of the crimes known as the Whitechapel murders. And the last was a case where a portion of the woman’s body was found in a railway arch in Pinchin-street, St. Georges East, on the 10th of September.”
The number of burglaries recorded in 1889 was 463, as against 499 in the previous year; the cases of housebreaking numbered 1,319, as against 1,408, and of shopbreaking 517, as against 590. The value of the property stolen in the 463 burglaries was £3,199, and of this £541 was recovered by the police. In the majority of cases the burglars gained entrance by windows or doors left open or insecurely fastened. In the cases of housebreaking the value of the stolen property was £10,957, of which only £739 was recovered by the police. Both robbery and larceny from the person or picking pockets showed a considerable diminution on the statistics of the previous year. The report states the offences against property are encouraged by the facility with which stolen articles can be disposed of, and the difficulty of bringing the receivers to justice even when they are well known to the police. It is added that that such offenses would be appreciably checked if habitual criminals were dealt with more severely than is usual at present. In proof of this reference is made to the impression produced upon the criminal classes of London by the exemplary sentence which followed the conviction of the Muswell-hill housebreakers. Special efforts were made in the year for the suppression of gaming houses in the metropolis. Much poverty and crime are caused by houses of this kind among certain sections of the poorer classes in London, and the police promise to direct their attention to such establishments in the future. The total number of habitual criminals under police supervision was 19,925.
Several of the less important items in the report are of interest. During the year 58 new houses were registered as common lodging-houses, 87 reopened, and 152 closed, leaving 988 registered houses under control at the end of the year, apportioned to accommodate 33,964 lodgers. In 68 cases proceedings were taken under the Smoke Nuisance Abatement Acts, and in 60 cases conviction was obtained. At the Lost Property Office 25,179 articles, which had been left in vehicles, were deposited, and of these 13,791 were restored to the owners. During the year proprietors’ licenses were issued in respect of 14,437 public carriages—namely, 7,409 Hansoms, 3,966 Clarences, 2,092 omnibuses, and 970 tramway cars; and the drivers and conductors were 28,715 in number.