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jackrippercourseworkQ5

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Introduction

Q5. Use all the sources and your own knowledge to explain whether you agree with this view, 'The police were to blame for not capturing Jack the Ripper.' From some of the sources, you can infer that the police were to blame for not capturing Jack the Ripper, whilst from others you can infer that they weren't. One reason that the police were to blame for not capturing Jack the Ripper is that there were two police forces in operation in London during the 19th Century, the City of London and Metropolitan Police. The Ripper murders overlapped into the territory of both police forces but they didn't co-operate with each other to catch him because they were competing against each other. They didn't disclose information to each other. The two forces may have had two pieces of the puzzle but they didn't join it together. The police took very little notice of the first murder and it wasn't investigated thoroughly. Source E says that an informant wasn't taken seriously when he warned that murder would ensue. 'He warned that murder would ensue if matters were left as they were. He was referred from one police office to another, but without making any impression. Then came the first murder.' The disregard that the police showed to this man could have further alienated the public into not helping with the murder. ...read more.

Middle

"The body must not be moved, nor anything about it or in the room or place interfered with, and the public must be excluded." They had never encountered a serial murderer before and there were no precedents to follow in investigating it. Another problem for the police is that witness statements contradicted each other. On the night of Elizabeth Strides' murder, five witnesses claim to have seen the Ripper. The problem for the police is that whilst two witnesses seem to be describing the same person, another witness is describing a person who has similar characteristics but a certain feature that is different. J. Best and John Gardner describe a man who is "weak" and has a "black moustache," whilst William Marshall describes a "stout" man with the "appearance of a clerk" with "no moustache." Matthew Packer supports William Marshall's statement and not J. Best and John Gardner's. Packer describes a man with "broad shoulders" and "maybe a young clerk." It is difficult for the police to follow up on these statements as they all contradict each other. Not only were these descriptions contradictory, they also weren't very accurate. Elizabeth Longs' evidence in Source D doesn't help the police greatly. "I think he was wearing a dark coat but I cannot be sure." She wouldn't have the chance to look at pictures of potential suspects on a computer which are available today. ...read more.

Conclusion

The police at the time of the Ripper murders were thought of as incompetent by the public and people were less inclined to testify against one another, particularly members of the same religion or race. A big factor in criminal convictions in the 21st Century is due to forensic evidence or CCTV cameras placing criminals at the scene of the crime. These technologies are a main line of enquiry for police nowadays but these methods were not available to detectives at the time. The only feasible way of catching the Ripper was to catch him red-handed. This would have been impossible to do considering the number of police officers and resources available to the police at this time. With the use of mobile phones, cars and helicopters, officers these days can move around to track a criminal and intercept him on his escape from another officer. In 1888, a police officer didn't know if a criminal was coming towards him until they saw him/her. The logistics of an operation to catch the Ripper would have been impossible with the network of alleyways that ran through the East End. The police had no idea who they were dealing with because there had never been a serial murderer of this kind before. Police investigations these days are carried out in the way that they investigated previous crimes. Due to the fact that there had never been a serial killer before, there were no precedents or guidelines to follow. ...read more.

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