In August 1888 a killer who became known as Jack the Ripper committed the first of a series of murders. To this day the identity of the killer remains a mystery. Five women were brutally killed in the East End of London, by a maniac who appeared to kill without warning and with no remorse.
Why was the Ripper able to get away with his murders? Why were the police powerless to stop him? These are some of the questions that still puzzle Ripperologists who search for Jack the Rippers identity till this day, looking in old archives and books.
Research and gain knowledge on:
> The development of the police forces in Britain in the nineteenth century.
> Law and order in London in the late nineteenth century.
> Whitechapel in the nineteenth century.
With this knowledge you should be able to answer the following questions:
1. Describe law and order in London in the late nineteenth century. (15 Marks)
2. Why did the Whitechapel murders attract so much attention in 1888 (15 Marks)
3. Why were police unable to catch Jack the Ripper? (20 Marks)
DESCRIBE LAW AND ORDER IN LONDON IN THE
Law and order in London in the late nineteenth century was at a developing level, with new acts introduced this century, the way law and order was dealt with changed as the century was coming to an end.
During the early and mid nineteenth century, watchmen patrolled the streets of London and special constables- this was ineffective as the number of civilians living in London outnumbered those watchmen and constables to a great level. However, the introduction of the new Metropolitan Police Force in 1829 was set up to change the situation.
The new police force put in place by Robert Peel, was first constructed of 3200 men, 17 divisions, 4 inspectors and 144 constables. As with any major introduction of something, there were many early problems for the police force.
However, as the years past on, the Metropolitan Police force gained more experience, and was able to deal more effectively with defections of law and order. To gain the peoples popularity, the Police Force carefully chose the uniform for its constables. The force was given a blue uniform, with a tailcoat and a helmet, which replaced the tall hat in 1870. The blue colour of the uniform was chosen because Londoners disliked seeing the redcoats of the army, as this was associated with violence. Blue was the colour of the navy, which was given hero status because of their contribution to the British war effort. This, I believe was a good first step for the Met as it made the people appreciate and favour them.
During the 1880s, the training of new police officers was unsatisfactory, much of the training was on the job and constables could often start their duty the following day. Ill training meant some police officers were inexperienced and couldnt deal efficiently with crime. This led to many incidents as the police disobeyed instructions. Ill policing also led to the serious incident named Bloody Sunday on the 13th November 1887. Above all, towards the end of the century, the police were seen as discriminating against Londoners of the lower classes and favouring people in the middle and upper class- this damaged their reputation.
Detective work was also improved as the nineteenth century progressed. At first, there were only two inspectors and six sergeants. It was feared that detectives would sympathize and become too lenient with criminals and as a result of this- become corrupt. The late nineteenth century bought radical changes to detective work. In 1869, the National Criminal Record was set up and dealt with infamous criminals, thereby reducing the number of crimes. The Detective Department in London was revised in the late nineteenth century- this led to the creation of a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in 1877. In a space of 5 years, the number of detectives increased by 78, as did the number of arrests made.
Increasing the number of detectives alone was not enough, as this didnt increase the efficiency of their work. The detectives had to change the methods which they used in the early and mid nineteenth century in dealing with disreputable crimes. The detective methods did however change in 1879 in dealing with murder cases. Now, the body of a victim was not removed from its murder site, or anything else to do with it. These changes in the detective department showed that law and order was being enforced more efficiently and more criminals were being put to justice than before.
Another aspect that increased the competence of detective work in the late nineteenth century was the introduction of forensics, finger printing and the Alphonse Bertillon method of identification. With these methods, detectives were able to examine primary or secondary sources got to with a murderer or victim in order to gather up evidence and find out who the murderer is. This was an important change because murderers could be identified not only by an obvious clue lying in the murder site- this consequently meant that murderers became more intimidated and frightened to carry out a killing.
Overall, the development of the police force in London in the late nineteenth century can be described as improving but unsatisfactory. I believe that the improvements made to restore law and order was still insufficient. With the population of London at that time being 5,255,069- I think having only 1383 police officers on duty was ineffective. Regular patrols could not stop a determined criminal. The police force would need to increase its size by many times so as to provide resistance and intimidate criminals. Being in its infant years, I think only time will solve this matter; because as time passes, there will be improvements in technology, the police will gain more experience and improve their methods of dealing with crime. With the Jack the Ripper murders round the corner, a crime like this will be enough to show the police force what they are lacking, how they are lacking and what things need to be taken into consideration.
WHY DID THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS ATTRACT SO
MUCH ATTENTION IN 1888?
In the space of two months or so, the residents of Whitechapel were horrified at the five murders that occurred in their area by a somewhat unremorseful sexual serial murderer that was unknown and could not be found. The mysterious murderer, who came to name himself Jack the Ripper became the focus of the press and media in late 1888, and attracted so much attention as he committed his rather graphic killings to prostitutes who lived on a day-to-day basis.
In each of the five murders that the Ripper carried out; he brutally mutilated the prostitutes, taking out what ever organs out of their bodies using his debatable anatomical skill. In my opinion, I believe the Ripper did possess anatomical/surgical skill, as he was able to take out certain organs like the kidneys out of his victims bodies without causing meaningless cuts.
He also used a long bladed knife similar to those used by surgeons while carrying out amputations. The Ripper used this skill while mutilating the bodies of Annie Chapman who had her small intestines withdrawn of her abdomen. Mary Kelly also had her internal organs removed because the Ripper had a lot of time to commit the mutilations as he was alone in a room and could have his privacy; away from public sight. I believe it was because of this reason- the ghastly mutilations on the prostitutes- that attracted the most attention to the people and police force as it showed what a determined murderer was capable of doing.
Another aspect of the Jack the Ripper case that attracted so much attention in 1888 was Jack the Ripper himself. People were eager to know who the Ripper was, his identity, his background, and simply; why he targeted prostitutes and slashed, sliced and severed them the way he did. The letters that he sent to the police caused people and the police themselves to grow even more suspicious about the Ripper. For example, the Dear Boss letter made people think that he was American. He portrayed himself as a psychopath through this letter; informing the police of what he will do in the future, I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. All these queries were supposed to be answered by the Metropolitan Police Force; however, they werent able to catch the Ripper. This is the reason why the world press degraded them.
British newspaper business were eager to sell more and more newspapers these days as the Education Act 1870 made it compulsory for everyone to attend school, meaning that now most of the British population was literate. The Fleet Street newspapers competed by writing articles, that more likely were incorrect and unreliable. However, the only thing that mattered to the newspapers at the time was selling, and as the British population was enthusiastic about the murders carried out by Jack the Ripper, they published incorrect material. This shows how much attention Jack the Ripper attracted, as to keep him in the minds of the British population, the very source that everyone depended on telling the truth, told a lie!
The world press also played a big role in attracting attention to the murders. They deeply investigated the murders and at times produced false information and rumours that made the populace even more fearful and intimidated to stroll through the alleys of Whitechapel at night. Offering rewards was a tactic that the police used later on, which it previously thought was insufficient to collect evidence about Jack the Ripper and his whereabouts. By this, many people were attracted to the case and produced false evidence solely to get a reward in the end. This afterwards proved to be totally unsatisfactory as the police found the investigation harder as many people brought forward different and inconclusive information with regard to the identity of the Ripper.
The double murders that took place in the night of the 30th of September 1888 also caused people to grow fearful and attentive in the East End of London. The first victim of the double murders was Elizabeth Stride who was found to have several cuts in the neck and windpipe. It was supposed that the horse and cart of Louis Diemschutz who worked near to the scene of the murder disturbed the Ripper. Because of this, the Ripper went and murdered a fourth prostitute named Catherine Eddowes less than half a mile away.
What was peculiar about the Eddowes murder was not only that she had her intestines, left kidney and womb removed; but that written in chalk above the dead womans apron were the words: The Juwes are The men That Will not be Blamed For nothing. This could have been a genuine clue for the MPF as to who the Ripper was; as they could have seen whether the handwriting of this matched the handwriting of the letters he sent to the police. But before they could do so, Sir Charles Warren, Commissioner of the MPF ordered the writing to be removed immediately to prevent any anti-Semitic tension.
Another reason why Jack the Ripper attracted so much attention, was because of the tension between political parties. A serial killer was out in the streets of London, killing innocent women, and sitting in Parliament were politicians who looked to be doing nothing about this. As a result of the Jack the Ripper murders, the poverty stricken area of Whitechapel was well known, and so was the poverty that the residents suffered. Opposition parties in the Government saw this as an opportunity, to attack the Government, in saying that the poverty that they (the government) had not solved was to blame for these murders. If there were no poverty in Whitechapel, then single women would not have had to result to prostitution, and Jack the Ripper would have had no prostitutes to murder. Jack the Ripper attracted so much attention, that even the politicians in Parliament were talking about his actions.
In conclusion, I think that it was the way in which the prostitutes were brutally butchered, and the perplexity that the Metropolitan Police Force faced with dealing with the murders; are what engrossed so much attention in 1888. In particular, I think the murder of Mary Kelly- the last of the Ripper murders- is what attracted the majority of attention in the Ripper case as the victim was viciously mutilated. There were cuts all over her body and most internal organs had been removed. The breasts were also cut off as well as her uterus. The heart was removed and could not be located. Because of this, I think it was this murder that made people most fearful and kept the dark alleys of Whitechapel deserted at night as the people living their knew that a determined murderer could well be at their doorsteps next.
WHY WERE THE POLICE UNABLE TO CATCH JACK THE
The police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper for several major reasons. It was mainly that the police did not know who or what they were dealing with. This was due to the fact that Jack the Ripper was the first serial killer to be reported on at such a scale. The police were unaware of the fact that they were dealing with a serial killer, and more importantly did not know what a serial killer was.
Jack the Ripper was the first serial killer who had been focused on at such a scale by the newspapers or the media. This was mainly due to the fact that most of the adult population of the time were now able to read and write due to the Education Act 1870. This encouraged the newspapers to write more about the Ripper, sometimes quoting unreliable sources which were also used by the police, leading them to false leads. As more and more of the public were getting interested in the Ripper murders, newspapers felt that they had to publish something on the Ripper murders otherwise the public would loose interest and the newspaper company loose money. Hence the newspapers were forced into writing false/incorrect information in their articles.
As the methods of investigation used by the police were still developing, and forensic science just starting, the Metropolitan police were unsure about how to conduct their investigation. As a result they resulted to any means possible and even took the false words of the newspapers as being true. Despite the fact that forensics experts of the time had visited the crime scenes and had drawn certain conclusions, the Metropolitan police still followed the false information published in the newspapers, despite the fact that it contradicted the conclusions drawn by the forensics experts. This shows how undeveloped the methods of investigation of the police was at the time as police were following information given by drunken lunatics who were giving witness accounts only to earn a little easy money, and based their witness accounts on the stereotypical image of the Ripper at the time to try and catch one of the most cunning and clever serial killers of all time.
Another major factor why the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper was that their nature of investigation was too narrow and that they should have widened their scope. At first the Metropolitan police believed that Jack the Ripper was someone local, from the evidence shown from his knowledge of the layout of all the alleyways and roads of Whitechapel. This enabled him to move very quickly and freely around the Whitechapel area without the police being able to catch him. This was very important because by the time the body of Jack the Rippers next victim was discovered he would have been long gone. A rumour had been spread about a man known as Leather Apron as being the serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
The police were intrigued by this information and were quick to respond. They arrested a man called John Pizer, a butcher from the Whitechapel area. He was foreign as many of the witness accounts suggested, and wore a leather apron, giving him the name Leather Apron. However he had an alibi, which cleared him of all charges. Again the police had followed false leads and had wasted more time. This then lead the police to believe that the murder was someone who was not from the Whitechapel area but could have had a job or another sort of connection within the area, because of his knowledge of the layout of Whitechapel.
The police used many techniques to try and catch Jack the Ripper, however none of them succeeded. Firstly, the Metropolitan police increased the number of police officers and constables on the beat (on duty), each being placed within five minutes of walking distance of each other. However this did not work as the Ripper was still too quick for the Metropolitan police. Another method used by the police was to try and go undercover to catch Jack the Ripper. Some officers dressed up as prostitutes to try and lure Jack the Ripper into spending some time with them. However this did not work as there were no female officers at the time, and the men who dressed up still wore their typical police boots which were still recognisable despite the heavily polluted smog that filled the air, blowing their disguise. Again the police had wasted more time, as their method of investigation was still unreasonable.
These thoughtless actions were not kept quiet. Jack the Ripper news attracted worldwide attention. These actions were even commented on in the New York Times, the London Police must be the stupidest police force in the World. This did not give a good impression of the Metropolitan police force.
On conclusion the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper because of their lack of knowledge of serial killers and the undeveloped methods of investigation they used. When Jack the Ripper first started his campaign of murder, the police were unaware that they were dealing with a serial killer and more importantly did not know what a serial killer was.
This was to the disadvantage to the police, as they did not know how to catch Jack the Ripper. Another factor why the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper was the little knowledge of forensic science that they had at the time. The police were uneducated in forensic science, and in many occasions altered the scene of the crime. Lastly, the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper because of the methods that they used. The police at the time were uneducated in undercover work as well. They did not know how to disguise themselves into the normal population to trap Jack the Ripper.