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Jack The Ripper - Describe Law and Order in London in the Late 19th Century

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Jack The Ripper Coursework Assignment One: Describe Law and Order in London in the Late 19th Century Evolution in crime fighting began in 1829 when the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel set up the Metropolitan Police Force, Peel's creation still exists today. The affectionately named "peelers" or "bobbies" replaced many previous and relatively ineffective forces such as the Bow Street Runners, set up in 1749 and the more recent Thames River Police, set up just two years prior. In describing law and order in London I intend to examine five main factors, these are: the public perception of 19th century policing, the failures of the Metropolitan Police, the modernisation of the force, the expected and actual use of the police and the methods of crime prevention used. The Expected and Actual use of the Police The Metropolitan Police was set up to carry out the functions of both the watchmen and the special constables. They were to patrol the streets in order to keep order and deter crime. Although they did manage to reduce street crime, the way in which they did this was relatively harsh. The Public Perception of 19th Century Policing How the public perceived this new police force was an important factor to consider in order to sustaining the force for a fair duration. The Metropolitan Police Force was given a blue uniform with as few badges as possible. This allowed people to distinguish them from the distrusted army and allowed people to associate them with national heroes, The Navy. In and around the fifties the popular image of the Policeman was of the London "Bobby". Punch states the police force are "Becoming the national favourites" over the sailors and soldiers. Some members of the public began to see that the police force was favouring the middle and upper classes, The Times published an article saying "P.C.W. 59 stalks along, an institution rather than a man." ...read more.


Press Attention The main reason that Jack The Ripper became so infamous is because of the letters received by the correspondence, almost all of which claimed to be the Ripper. Many of the letters were proven forgeries. But a few are still considered credible; the "Dear Boss", "From Hell" letters and the "Saucy Jacky" postcard all give a powerful insight into the Ripper's disturbed mind. Lines such as "I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping" from the "Dear Boss" letter display a psychotic notion, in this letter he mentions that he "loves his work" again suggesting that derived vast sexual pleasure from the killings. The press reacted to the letters by public announcing them and publishing them throughout Britain; normally a murder in Whitechapel would not gain any coverage but the ferocity of the Ripper murders worried the public and The Police too such an extent that it was hard not too give the murders attention. The disturbing nature of the letters furthered the publics' interest and coupled with his elusive nature and almost mocking of the police gave people insight into the insecurities of the force, of course this engrossed them. As the above four paragraphs show, there are many reasons for the amount of attention the murders incited. It was no surprise that murders achieved such high status. The killer seemed to be above the law, the citizens were baffled by the concept of serial murder (brought about by the rising of newspaper manufacturing) and the press only accentuated this morbid curiosity. I believe the order of importance in answering this question is: 1. The nature of Crimes and the Apparent Lack of Motive 2. Press Attention 3. The Unaware Society Although it was difficult to decide, I chose this order because all of the extensive newspaper and literacy coverage of the felonies was breeded from the ferocity of the crimes, the public interest was a direct result of this and simply amplified the Ripper's wrath. ...read more.


I will now explain the other factors for the police's incapability to catch the serial killer. Lack of Motive and No Obvious Pattern of Occurrence- All obvious evidence suggested that the cold blooded, sexual psychopath struck at random. He worked so quickly and skilfully that his victims had no opportunity to aggress towards the Ripper. As an 1888 edition of the times states "The murders, so cunningly continued, are carried out with a complete ruthlessness which altogether baffles investigators... there is no purpose in the crime to afford the slightest clue." As I mentioned previously (assignment 1, part 2) more than 89% of murders are committed by persons known to the victims. The Ripper only selected his victims as a result of a chance meeting. Even today, murderers who work like this are extremely difficult to detain. I would say that the most important reason for The Police's inability to detain Jack The Ripper excluding the lack of motive and random pattern of occurrence was the Police's failure to decipher evidence in the correct way. This really restricted the likelihood of catching The Ripper. It is impossible to catch a villain if you are searching in all the wrong places. In other words, this factor is unconditional, and makes the capture impossible (except by coincidence) whereas the other factors do not restrict to the same extent. In the case of motivated murder I would have said that the limited police resources would have been the most important factor, but because of the murders' circumstances this factor is relatively ineffective, if not the least. I believe that "Lack of Motive and No Obvious Pattern of Occurrence" was the most important reason. Even in today's society it is difficult to catch criminals that work in this way, the polices inhibitions simply added to this predicament. The order of importance I would organise these factors in to is as follows: Lack of Motive and No Obvious Pattern of Occurrence Failure to Decipher Evidence Following All Leads- Press Intervention Inadequate Police Resources Tom Foot Yr.11 History - 7 - 06/03/03 \\Classlink\TFOOT$\Jack The Ripper Coursework[1].doc ...read more.

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