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The Times (London).
23 November 1894

THE WHITECHAPEL MURDER CASE
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES

Sir,
The Whitechapel murder case furnishes a suitable opportunity for calling public attention to the frequent non-compliance on the part of the police with the duty imposed on them by the regulations made under the authority of the Prosecution of Offences Acts, 1879 and 1884. Those regulations provide that where an offence is punishable with death it shall be the duty of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute, and that the police shall furnish him with information as soon as practicable after it is committed.

In the Whitechapel case the murder was discovered about 1 a.m. on Saturday, and it was not until a late hour in the afternoon that a person was brought up at the Worship street Police court charged with the offence. There had thus been ample time to communicate with the Public Prosecutor. But a superintendent of police conducted the prosecution, and at the close of the hearing he asked the magistrate to "certify for legal aid," thus disclosing his ignorance of the statutory obligation alike of the police and of the Public Prosecutor. I need hardly point out how important it is that this officer's department should be informed of a murder at the earliest possible moment, inasmuch as if the police start off on a false scent time is given for the escape of the real criminal. This was certainly the view of a strong Parliamentary committee in 1884, who contemplated that their recommendations (on which the existing regulations are founded) would embrace the chief merit of the Scotch system for public prosecutions - viz., provide for a report of each offence immediately on its discovery to a competent public officer.

I may add that I have seldom known of an important prosecution conducted at any stage by the police without some irregularity in criminal law or procedure being committed, and the Whitechapel case certainly does not form an exception to this experience.

Yours truly,
E.H. Pickersgill.
House of Commons, Nov. 12.


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