Jack The Ripper – Law and Order in the late 19th century Essay

1) A regular police force was established in 1829 for a number of reasons. Before 1829 large disturbances could not be handled, such as riots. There were only special constables and watchmen, who knew the area well as they were locals. However, they had other jobs so only worked part time. The army would have to be sent in for large disturbances, which the public loathed, as they had ed coats. The Navy, seen as the national heroes, had blue coats, which the Metropolitan Police adopted. These new policemen were not sectioned out as the previous police so worked coherently. The new police were brought in to deter crime and drunkenness as well as control large demonstrations and riots.

2) The new police force did not bring about radical changes in law and order as many of the new recruits were dismissed for drunkenness etc. The new police started to become unpopular due to their crowd control methods. The Bow Street Runners continued for years afterwards, so the force did not work together completely. Many areas in Britain did not have a Metropolitan Police Force. Many policemen were unskilled and earned less than skilled workers (95p a week). A policeman could not take time off, take in a lodger, sell vegetables from his garden, have a dog, chicken or more than two pigs.

A policeman could not even vote. Class based prejudice emerged as policemen favoured the middle and upper class and discriminated against the lower classes. The Bow Street Runners refused to co-operate with the Manchester police force. This was common as people argued who was in charge, showing poor structure of the system. This, combined with their draconian actions, caused them to be viewed as people who “stalks along, an institution rather than a man.”

3) The setup of the CID, or Criminal Intelligence Department made a considerable improvement to the police. This is shown by the number of detectives and arrests rising substantially. Previously, detectives could become too friendly with criminals and become corrupt. In 1877 it as discovered 3 out of 4 inspectors in the Detective Department were guilty of corruption. The CID also started to revamp procedures for dealing with murder cases and forensic science started to progress slowly.

4) The reputation of the police during the 19th Century increased steadily in some ways, yet it could be argued that it did not. There is much evidence suggesting that the police force did improve, as a complete reform was made in 1829, and the introduction of blue ‘Navy’ uniform did indeed contrast with the hated Army redshirts. The introduction of the CID also helped in catching the criminals and hence improved the appearance of the police. The police were not as brutal as the army and to the middle class were seen as similar people. In this respect, there can be no doubt that with the reform the police force was given, there must have been an increase in the respect for the police from the abysmal situation around 1800. This is shown in Source 5, in punch as the police are “beginning to take that place in the affections of the people” and are “becoming national favourites”.

However, there is much evidence to suggest otherwise. Despite this situation, most of the police were incompetent drunkards, and were greatly prejudiced against the lower class, who made up the bulk of the population. Many saw them as “prowling” men and Sources 1 to 4 show them as incompetent, evil, draconian men. Many became corrupt and had little regard for what they did, and the type of people that were employed reflect their pittance of a wage at 95p. It is for this reason that the statement could be argued against.

In conclusion I believe that the reputation of the police did improve, but only because the original levels at the beginning of the 19th century were so low, and something desperately needed to be done. Many blunders were made, but in the century more was gained than lost.

Whitechapel

1) The sort of evidence shown on the sheet regarding Whitechapel are not particularly reliable; the last two pieces are written after the Jack the Ripper killings, and hence are likely to be very biased and sensationalised. The third source tells us little about the condition of Whitechapel and concentrates on the public houses, while the first two sources are not given dates. The first two sources emphasise the squalid conditions, “evil collection of slums” and “rotten and reeking tenements”, which reiterate the stereotype of a grim, squalid region filled with lowlifes. This may be true to an extent, but we have little more evidence regarding the background of the two sources to substantiate this. However, since both sources tend to show the same view (and is supported by many other views) we can take the information given as relatively useful. The last source, written after the Whitechapel murders, shows similar views with more violent overtones, telling us “police used to make a point of going through this only in couples” and “fighting and screaming” in the area, which again is unreliable as, being a published source, could have been used to whip up hysteria. The weekly newspaper after the murders also shows signs of hyperbole, as it is described as “an apocalypse of evil” and that “there would be more mischief”.

In conclusion, I believe that there are few very reliable sources here that talk of Whitechapel in detail, so we cannot come to a conclusion apart from the fact that Whitechapel was indeed very poor and dilapidated area in bad condition.

2) The nature of Whitechapel suggests a number of things; since it was filled with prostitutes as it was a poor area. This meant that there were lots of potential victims for the Jack the Ripper as well as many potential suspects as they were the clients. There were many dark streets and alleyways that the Ripper could easily escape down and it was not easy to track down a killer as few people were around and the lack of street lighting means that a killer could disappear as quickly as he appeared. Many did not lock their doors.

Victim

Where found

Date and Time

Description of body

Description of killer

Police Action

Media

Martha Tabram

George Yard, off the Whitechapel Road

Found at 4.45am, Tuesday 8th August 1888. Time of death estimated at 2.30am

39 stab wounds, possibly made with penknife the final one made with a bayonet or dagger in sternum

Seen last with a soldier as a client, although thought soldier may have also been killed.

Little done, two soldiers were identified by Tabram’s acquaintance, but were cleared of murder.

Little publicity, seen as a one-off murder.

Mary Annie Nichols

Bucks Row, outside a stable yard.

Found at 3.40am, 31st August, death estimated at 3am.

Throat and abdomen had been slashed, exposing the intestines. Clothes soaked in blood. Examined by Dr Llewellyn

Not seen or no witnesses.

Investigated but could not find any clues. 3 horse slaughterers charged but then acquitted when it was found they were working at the time.

Linked to Martha Tabram murder (by East London Observer). Media sensationalism begins.

Annie Chapman

29 Hanbury Street

Found at 6am on 8th September. Seen last at 5.30am saying “I won’t be long”

Throat was cut and very mutilated. Abdomen had been laid open and her intestines had been had been placed on her shoulder.

Elizabeth Long describes a man with Annie Chapman at 5.20 as “dark complexioned man wearing a deerstalker hat” Looked like “a foreigner” and a “shabby genteel”

Police followed evidence of Dr Phillips, police surgeon, that Chapman died before 5.30. Therefore they did not follow up the evidence of the three witnesses. Police flooded the area with policemen thus afterwards there was a lull in killings.

The Star whipped up anti Semitism by describing “leather apron” as Jewish. It also publishes a description and inflamed public opinion.

Elizabeth Stride

Berner Street

Found at 1am on Sunday 30th September

Throat cut, but she was not mutilated. Examined by Dr Phillips and Dr Blackwell.

Four witnesses – Constable said he saw her talking to a dark haired man with a dark deerstalker hat, and Israel Schwartz saw a man pulling and then pushing a woman away from him. Marshall saw her talking to a man at 11.45 with a round cap and appeared to be educated. Ripper had been disturbed and fled.

The witnesses conflicted slightly in their views and questionings took place but little else. The police surgeon believed that the time of death was between 12.36 and 12.56.

As this was treated as a ‘double killing’ the case was treated as the same, and the Dear Boss and From Hell letters were released regardless of their authenticity. Hysteria was whipped up further as the media proclaimed that Jack the Ripper was still ‘out there’

Catherine Eddoes

Mitre Square

Between 1.42 and 1.44am, Sunday 30th September

Throat cut and her abdomen was exposed and the intestines were placed over her right shoulder. Many wounds in her face and the left kidney was removed. The right ear had also been removed.

Joseph Lawande saw Kate Eddoes at around 1.35 with a man and woman talking. “The Juwes are The men That Will not be Blamed For Nothing”.

The writing on the wall was rubbed off as it may have incited riots, according to Warren. Found a part of a womans apron at 2.55 next to the writing on the wall. Police put up signs asking for help or evidence to 80,000 homes.

Mary Jane Kelly

No. 13 Millers Court

Around 3.45am on Friday 9th November

The most horrific of the killings. Extremely mutilated, left naked, all abdomen and thighs had been cut off and organs removed, breasts cut off, face beyond recognition, neck slashed to the bone and uterus, kidneys and one breast found under head, liver between feet, intestines by her right side. Heart was taken.

At around 2am George Huchinson heard a client with Mary Kelly saying “you will be alright, for what I have told you” and going to her house. He was described as “about thirty-four, dark eyes…slight moustache… Jewish appearance”. At around 3.45am three residents at Miller’s Court all heard Mary Kelly scream “Oh, Murder!”. The three were Sarah Lewis, Mrs Kennedy and Elizabeth Prater.

Police doctors disagreed on time of death. Evidence was not used well due to this. Bloodhounds were set out by Sir Charles Warren, but were of no use due to the squalid conditions in Whitechapel. More police patrols started.

Much media hysteria as the most gruesome of the killings, which eventually died down as time went on and Ripper killings ended. Most witness reports were published and increased panic within the public.

2) The investigations undertaken of the murder were relatively hopeless in catching the killer, to the point where police would go door to door asking who the Ripper was. They did ask many suspects and arrested a number, although many were released on bail afterwards. Post mortems were done on the body, photos were taken and notes were recorded. After the murder of Polly Nicholls the police started serious investigation, and backgrounds were found into the victims. However, the police still found it difficult to catch the killer, as they had never dealt with such people before.

3) Letters started appearing in the last 3 murders, which could have been hoaxed but some confirmed some details of murders. This led the police to believe they could have been from Jack The Ripper himself, although on further examination this is less likely. Policemen started to find more witnesses describing the suspect as foreign with dark features. The features of mutilation also became more prevalent with the last murders and perhaps gave the police more leads. Clues such as writing on the wall were found which added more evidence.

4) The letters did not have a particularly massive impact on the investigation, as the there was a massive flood of letters and few were sure whether to believe the “from hell” letters or “Jack the Ripper” letters. Hysteria was whipped up in all ranks however as Jack The Ripper was seen as a inhuman cannibal.

5) The Ripper chose prostitutes as they had no choice but to wander the streets very late and alone, waiting for potential clients who could have actually been the Ripper. They were also desperate for a bed for the night and therefore would trust anyone. It is for this reason alone it is suspected the Ripper chose prostitutes, not because of any grudge he had against them.

Conclusion

1)

Factors in the control of police

Factors out of control of police

Lack of cooperation between police units

Police not used

Lack of well trained policemen

Lack of previous experience with such cases

Not enough policemen

Whitechapel was a poorly lit area with many side streets

Evidence was leaked

Media exaggerated incident

Evidence was destroyed

Lack of technology, eg computers, fingerprinting, etc

Lack of morale due to pay and expectations

Poverty stricken area with high levels of victims (prostitutes)

Poor methods such as decoys, etc

Not enough government funding

High publicity meant investigation did not go as smoothly as hoped

Public hysteria and fake letters

Coursework Questions

1) Describe law and order in London in the late 19th Century

In 1829, the country was on the brink of civil war, so in a last attempt the government passed ‘The Great Reform Act’ to reduce the corruption in the force. A sweeping reform of electoral procedure was made. The police became the keepers of peace, as previously the red coated army, who were hated by the public. For this reason the police wore blue uniform, a similar colour to the Navy, who were national heroes.

The primary methods employed by the police were to deter crime and keep order, which involved combating drunkenness and catching criminals ‘in the act’ while committing crimes. Also, the job of police was to tackle major disturbances, for which some officers were armed with cutlasses, while all had truncheons. This leads to the question of whether or not police can take the law into their own hands. The methods used by police were basic, with no DNA or fingerprinting discovered till 1894 and used much later, and was more focused on the prevention of small crimes rather than solving crime. Most investigations were crude, with photography used very little.

Police earned very little, less than an unskilled job, at around 95p. This meant that the type of people who were attracted to such a job sometimes lacked very basic levels of intelligence which meant such complex crimes as those of Jack the Ripper could never have been hoped to have been solved. Jobs varied throughout the country, depending on whether the policeman was in the village or town. There was no training required so many police officers were incompetent, and there were too few police officers for the population; in London in 1885, there was a population of 5.3 million, with a police force of 13,319, of who only 1,383 were on the street at one time. The only conditions for entry were a height above 5’9, and be able to read and perform simple arithmetic. Long hours meant police were tired and people could be murdered yards from a policeman without him noticing. Police were forced to wear uniform constantly and were not allowed to be seen with women.

The reputation of the police is disputable; some saw them as heroic, blue uniformed heroes, deterring crime, whilst most saw them as prejudiced, drunkard slackers, with favouritism towards the richer and middle class, and often accepted bribes. This view was made worse by Punch magazine, who also saw the CID as corrupt, with little pay. In 1877 it was found that Scotland Yard men had been taking bribes. These low expectations led to low morale in the police force. However improvements were still made as the number of arrests in 1879 went from 13,128 to 18,349 in 1884.

The types of crime the police generally had to deal with included drunken brawls, petty theft and burglary. From 1857 to 1873 it was logged that most arrests were made for drunkenness and small theft. From this we see that most crimes stemmed from either drunkenness, or crimes for economic motives. Thus, the idea of a serial killer, such as Jack the Ripper, was unheard of. This is the reason why the crime was handled so badly; they had had little experience with such a modus operandi and hence could not deal with them. Poor methods were employed such as decoys (policemen dressed as women).

In conclusion I believe that although the police were developing over the course of the century, were well behind with the needs of the population, and was inexperienced in dealing with a range of different crime situations, and it is for this reason that the police had difficulty solving the Jack the Ripper murder.

2) Why did the Whitechapel murderers attract so much attention in 1888?

There are many reasons why the Whitechapel murders caught much attention. The murders themselves were 5 killings of prostitutes by an unknown serial killer. The murders themselves were so prolific that even Queen Victoria took an interest, capturing the attention of the nation. The primary reasons for this will be discussed below.

One of the most important aspects of the murders was the nature of the crimes. As the murders went on, they became more and more brutal, as organs were taken (implying to the public the killer was a cannibal) and the bodies left in a horrific fashion. The ‘Dear Boss’ and ‘From Hell’ letters, regardless of their authenticity, stirred hysteria as the killer was seen in a more inhumane, and very real threat. The public were only used to seeing crime for economical gain, and never witnessed a serial killer before. This caused widespread panic and hence publicity as the public witnessed the gruesome stories and accusations, which relate to the media.

The press were without a doubt one of the most important factors in the development and publicity of the crimes; as they were the ones who had control on what and how things were published to the public. Exaggeration was made by the tabloids, however, as the broadsheets tended to give more rational information. The more wild the story, the more money made by the newspapers, so hence sensationalism was common, and as the “Jack The Ripper” letters are known as false, it is very likely that Jack the Ripper himself was created by the press.

Newspapers whipped up rumours such as ‘The Star’, which claimed the Ripper was a Jewish slipper maker, creating stereotypes and hysteria with phrases like “leather apron, which he always wears”. The ‘Dear Boss’ letters and other pieces of important evidence were immediately exposed, which caused further publicity but also meant the chance of copy cat killings, meaning there may not have been a serial killer at all.

The nature of the area was also important for looking at the publicity. Whitechapel was described by most as “a shocking place, an evil collection of slums” and “rotting and reeking”. This view, which was true to an extent but severely overhyped by the media as a ‘den of vice’, further interested the public as the typical image of a cannibal killer stalking vice filled, foggy streets was created. It was heavily populated with Jews and immigrants after the 1880s which the media used to create the image of a mysterious foreigner as the Ripper. The many side alleys which gave the murderer a place to escape to relates to police failure, in the way that they kept the Ripper on the loose, hence causing further hysteria.

The fact that the police failed at their job is also a prime reason why the murders caught such attention. Not only was the police’s failure brought to light and scorned, but their failure led people to believe that the Ripper was unstoppable, which added more publicity. Also, fear was built up in the mind of the population as there was an uncertainty on who, when and where the killer would strike next.

Finally, the nature of the victims was also important, as they were seen as ‘normal’ (due to high levels of prostitution) and therefore the public felt they were all at risk. Prostitutes were easy to prey upon and would be paid around 4 to 6d; it was estimated there were around 80,000 in the East End alone. These women were portrayed as more innocent by the media rather than drunk prostitutes, especially Mary Kelly, who was portrayed as beautiful despite her appearance being unknown.

In conclusion, I believe the primary factors which caused public interest were the media and type of murder committed, as it is highly unlikely many would have heard of the Ripper at all had these factors not been present; the murders provided the fuel and the media was the spark for the public hysteria, so to speak.

3) Why were the police unable to catch Jack the Ripper?

There are a number of reasons why the police were supposedly unable to catch the Ripper, which will be discussed below.

The primary reason why the police had no luck catching the Ripper was due to the police themselves; they were a fragmented, inexperienced organisation, being formed only in 1829. The Metropolitan and City Police forces did not work together, which is evident in information such as notes on the wall being hidden and covered up. Police themselves were untrained drunkards, so could not hope to solve a complex crime. The police were used to deterring, rather than solving, crime. Sir Charles Warren first begun to hide evidence as he rubbed the message “The Juwes are the men who will not be blamed for nothing” off the wall, in a hope to prevent racist backlash. Crude methods were used; bodies were moved and no fingerprinting was employed. There was little in the form of sophistication or advanced methods of tracking down suspects as we have today, and, to make things worse, all evidence was destroyed not long after the case, so there is no hope of finding the killer today.

Another problem was Whitechapel itself; not only were there around 1200 desperate prostitutes, all of whom were potential victims, but the many “dark alleyways” gave the killer escape routes to many places. Charles Booth’s ‘Map Of Poverty’ of Whitechapel shows most the murders took place in lower class, criminal areas, with a few in mixed areas. John Griffith London also known as Jack London published a book called ‘The People of the Abyss’, depicting it as a poorly lit foggy maze of streets. The Ripper was an opportunistic killer so he had many possible victims with few witnesses to come forward. Punch magazine described Whitechapel as ‘the Nemesis of Neglect’ on September 29, 1888. Bloodhounds could not trace blood because of the stench, making it an ideal murder area. Also, policemen there often did not see murders feet away from them, linking to the reason above.

One of the main culprits for the situation was the press; greedy for money and publicity, evidence was leaked (relating to the police section and their incompetence) and hence information released to the public caused a backlash of fake letters, such as the “Dear Boss” letters and possibly even the “From Hell” letters, which link to the fact that this confused the police further. Tabloids such as the star whipped up anti-Semitism and false identities, causing confusion to the public and police, describing the man as foreign, having a leather apron, etc which not only confused the police with fake evidence but also caused panic to the readers of the newspapers.

The crimes themselves were also important; being of a spontaneous nature it was impossible to prevent the crime, and nearly as hard to solve it. There was no motive, so the only thing police could rely on were eyewitness accounts of what the killer looked like; and eventually they were forced to go door to door asking who Ripper was. This is because in most cases, the victim knows the killer, while Jack The Ripper was opportunistic; he randomly killed his victims with no clues or warning beforehand. There was also no money motive involved, which was what the police were used to.

False leads and cover ups were also prevalent and confusing for the police; these tend to link most strongly to the letters, which were only to be discovered false later, and the links to the Polish Jewish community further confused the police, despite the fact newspapers such as ‘The Jewish Chronicle’ tried to dispel this. Many people claimed to be Jack the Ripper, and evidence was hidden between Metropolitan and City police. Added to the fact that police burnt all the evidence, we have few links remaining.

In conclusion, I believe it is primarily down to the fact that the police were not used to such crimes, as well as the media, for not catching Jack the Ripper. Since the police had never dealt with such crimes before, they were even further hampered by the media clouding the situation. However, the final theory is that perhaps Jack the Ripper was caught, in the form of Aaron Kosminski. Police senior Macnaghten describes him as “insane, owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred … of the prostitute class, & had strong homicidal tendencies; he was removed to a lunatic asylum about March 1889.” The fact that all major investigation stopped after this point, as do the killings, is a strong indicator of this. Finally, I believe that the factors contributing towards failure were the media and police, but there is also a possibility that Jack the Ripper was caught, but not publicly, as to avoid racial backlash.