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Jack the ripper - What can you learn from source A about the murder of Polly Nicholls?

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Introduction

Jack the Ripper Coursework Assignment 1- What can you learn from source A about the murder of Polly Nicholls? Source A tells us a lot about the murder of Polly Nicholls. It says the murders have startled London with their 'extraordinary violence'. It tells us the murder was very violent and could only have been the work of a 'demented being' or a madman. It also tells us that the victims were the 'poorest of the poor' i.e. prostitutes. Source A tries to create a link between the two murders by describing them in the same article and saying they are both the work of a 'demented being'. The article tells us that no plunder could be traced or basically nothing had been taken from the women. This shows that there was no motive for the murders such as theft or robbery. What the source doesn't tell us is details of the actual murder of Polly, just a vague description; peculiar, extraordinary violence, excess of effort in each murder. Also, it doesn't tell us where the murders took place or on what date so the actual information in the source is quite limited. Because this source is for a newspaper, this is not 100 percent reliable. This is because newspapers at the time sensationalised stories in order to get more sales. This is the reason why the source links the two murders, to emphasise that it was a serial killer. The newspaper wouldn't have known at the time that it was in fact a serial killer and the murders had been committed by the same person but they made out they did to sensationalise the story. In summary, the source is unreliable and the information in it is limited and vague. You can't learn very much from it. 2- Does the evidence of Source C support the evidence of Sources A and B about the Ripper murders? Source A is part of an article describing the murders of Polly Nicholls and Martha Tabram. ...read more.

Middle

You can understand the Home Secretary's point, that rewards would do more harm than good, because people would plant false evidence etc just to get a reward. Leaflets asking for information would have helped the police try to catch the Ripper but the lack of a reward might have put people off. After the murder of Polly Nicholls, one of the police techniques for trying to catch the Ripper was house to house enquiries. This meant going round to all the houses in the local area and asking the residents if they had seen anything unusual or suspicious. This would have been quite effective, as someone in the local area must have seen something unusual. On the other hand, the police did not make notes on all inquests and interviews for later comparison so this method may not have worked very well. The police at the time did not carry a pencil and paper and could not make a note of what the residents had to say. By the time an officer had been to twenty or thirty houses he would not be able to remember what most of them had said, so this method was not very reliable. After the murder of Annie Chapman, a police surgeon made a detailed report on the state and position of the body and the murder weapon. This wouldn't have really helped the police to find the Ripper but might have given them an insight into his motive. The police also had a study of all the evidence found nearby. This included a comb, a piece of cloth, a leather apron and a nail box. This would have helped the police try to catch the Ripper because they would know that the murderer might have worn a leather apron. On the other hand as no forensic techniques had been developed the information they could get from the evidence was fairly limited. ...read more.

Conclusion

After the murders of Nicholls and Chapman there were hundreds of letters to newspapers claiming to be from the murderer. This made work for the police harder because if there was a genuine letter from the Ripper then the police would be unable to distinguish it from the fake letters. The Home Secretary was asked to provide a reward to help catch the Ripper after only a couple of murders but he refused, as he didn't know the seriousness of the situation. This wasn't the fault of the police, but it could have saved a lot of time and maybe even prevented further murders. The police were to blame for not catching the Ripper because of bad public relations and a poor reputation at the time. Many people did not regard the police as friendly because they gained a reputation for being violent and heavy handed. Because of this the police had to go into poorer areas with cutlasses to protect themselves, as attacks on policemen were common. Some of this bad reputation was caused by charges by the police, often killing demonstrators and rioters. This bad reputation caused a general belief that the police were favouring the middle and upper classes. This made the work of police in poor areas quite difficult because the public were reluctant to co-operate. Also, when the public did come forwards to talk to the police they were often ignored like the informant in source E. This made people less likely to speak to the police. The police wasted time, were disorganised and didn't make use of all the available evidence. However, when they realised how serious the situation was they tried much harder to apprehend the killer. You can't really blame the police totally for not catching him, as he was the first serial killer the London police had ever come across. They had no experience with this type of criminal, and the lack of modern techniques made it very difficult for them. In summary, the police were partially to blame for not catching the Ripper. James Campbell ...read more.

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