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History Sources Question : Murder in the East End

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Introduction

History Sources Question : Murder in the East End Question 1. Study Source A What can you learn from source A about the murder of Polly Nicholls? There is not much that we can infer from source A. It tells us that Polly Nicholls was a prostitute and that her murder was not the first killing of a prostitute in the East End. We also find out that she was very poor as stated in the extract, 'poorest of the poor'. Source A also informs us of the scale of the shock throughout London after the murder of Polly Nicholls and also Martha Tabram. This widespread shock tells us that these murders were probably the first of their kind in city like London. In source A, surprise is expressed because the murders seemed very irrational because there was no apparent motive especially one connected to money ('in the shape of plunder'). Although there are things that we can learn from source A of the murder of Polly Nicholls, it does have its limitations. It is part of a newspaper article taken from the East End Observer, this means that it would have been sensationalised in order to sell, so the journalists would have written material that would appeal to the consumer public. ...read more.

Middle

The only way that they could catch the killer and convict him was to have an eyewitness, in particular a police eyewitness. Source F is a police leaflet that was published after the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Kate Eddowes, asking for any information regarding suspicious persons. Whitechapel in the late 19th century had a very transient population, there were many foreign immigrants coming in from all over the place and then leaving again, this meant that the police relied on locals to give them information on the people that passed through. Source G is part of the letter from the Home Secretary to the Mile End Vigilance Committee explaining why the police were not offering rewards for information on the Ripper. Many did not understand why the police were not offering a reward and so the letter was sent out to justify the actions of the police. By not offering a reward, the police were reducing the amount of false or irrelevant information that they would receive, making their job easier. The police tried many ways to try and increase their chances of catching the Ripper; for example there was the invention on the 'Sneaker'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The heads of the two police forces, City of London and Metropolitan, did not particularly like each other and this meant that the two police forces did not share information, which may have helped the other side. This is demonstrated in source F, anyone with information is directed to contact the nearest Metropolitan police station rather than any of the two. The police also did not offer a reward for information, which would have encouraged people to come to the police although it may be argued that offering a reward would do more harm than good, as mentioned in source G. In many ways the force also neglected the area of Whitechapel before the murders began to get serious, they did not concentrate sufficient resources in the area killings, if they had there the Ripper may never have gotten the chance to murder his victims. With everything considered I think that the police were only partially at fault. Even though they did not carry out the most thorough investigation that they could have or do enough to prevent the murders, there were many things going against them especially that it was the first investigation of its kind as there had never been sexually-motivated serial killings in a modern city prior to the Ripper murders and so they were not quite sure of how to handle it. ...read more.

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