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Law and order in 19th century London - Case Study: The search for "Jack the Ripper".

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History Coursework 1 - Law and order in 19th century London - Case Study: The search for "Jack the Ripper" PARAGRAPH 1 In the 19th century, poverty stricken areas such as the East-end of London were rife with murder, rape, burglary etc. The public needed a force other than the army redcoats who were disliked due to exceedingly poor riot skills which had led to many deaths (we can see this in incidents such as the Peterloo massacre). In 1829 the public outcry for a new force had become so great the home office could no longer sidestep the issue. Robert Peel the home secretary founded the Metropolitan police force. Unlike the Bow street runners and Thames river police force (vigilante groups that patrolled London in the 1800's) the Met would be official and more importantly government funded. The Met's policemen were to patrol the streets in order to keep the peace but ultimately as a deterrent. The Metropolitan police force was thrown in at the deep end as far as policing goes, their ranks were made up of ex-soldiers and people who enjoyed an air of authority, yet they had little knowledge of crime hotspots and how to deal with the public. The soldiers quickly reverted to their military training when dealing with riot crowds - using such brutal methods as the "baton charge" when dispersing crowds. In the public eye though the Met officers still looked admirable when compared with the army who regularly killed protesters. Also they were founded in a time when civil unrest was everywhere, although this fact was the reason of their existence it was also their biggest problem. Having said this the praises of the Met were being sung all over London - popular papers such as "The Times" and "Punch" magazine were applauding the "bobby on the beat" as a success. While some papers were heralding the arrival of the Met as a failure - claiming corruption and drunkenness as major contributors to a laughable attempt by Peel to halt the ever present crime problem on the streets. ...read more.


One witness named Israel Schwartz reported seeing a man push Elizabeth Stride to the floor and call a second man by the name of Lipski over. This was the only witness that reported seeing two men. This would have attracted attention because it would have given the thought to many that there was more than one man and this would increase the risk of being attacked. Most of the attention would not have been for the women themselves but because the general public would have been concerned for their own wellbeing. All of the women were in their 40's, all except the last woman killed, Mary Kelly. She was aged just 25, she was the only one out of the five that was foreign (she was from Ireland). The fact that all the victims were female prostitutes, in their 40's and lived within one square mile of each other was another reason for all the attention that the killing received. The fact that there were so many links between all of the women would have been a great worry to many. And been a great incentive for the press to go out and print more stories. One of the biggest reasons that the murders received so much attention was the fact that the killer was clever and very precise about the way in which he killed his victims. The police had no leads on the man. He had left no clues or leads at any of the scenes and he was very quick at what he did. One of the killings, Catherine Eddowes was believed to have been killed within two minutes, a police officer had walked within the place that she was found dead at 1:42am, and a separate officer was in the same place two minutes later and at 1:44am found the body. She was found laying in a pool of blood and had had her bowels removed, all within these two minutes. ...read more.


This was done by increasing the number of police officers on the 'beat' and by the use of decoys (for example police officers dressing up as prostitutes to catch Jack). Although the increased amount of police officers on the 'beat' created a lull in crime in a generally dangerous area, this, or the decoys, could have stopped Jack from committing his murders. The Metropolitan police force also tried to tie up with other police forces and vigilante groups in order to gain access to more information. This did not always work however as police forces wanted to compete with each other and vigilante groups were unwilling to cooperate. Bloodhounds were also used on some occasions to try to track down the criminal but this also failed (one time the Blood Hounds went straight back to Sir Charles Warren, the owner, and the on several occasions, due to lack of public awareness, the crime scene had been tampered with and evidence spoilt.) In conclusion, the police force did use many techniques to try to find Jack the Ripper but many of these methods were too traditional to work, this in turn meant that they were unable to catch him. At the time there was a joke in punch that showed a policeman knocking on somebody's door and saying, "Are you Jack the Ripper". This sums up the general public opinion at the time about how badly the police were treating the Ripper case. Methods that the Metropolitan police force used included questioning eyewitnesses, publishing information to the public in the form of posters, narrowing down the search to a handful of people, trying to catch the ripper 'red-handed', trying to link with other police forces and vigilante groups and using blood hounds to try and track down Jack. These all detracted from the real detective work that was needed. After the 'Ripper' case police work began to evolve. Ultimately the detective department was in its infancy and it took a case such as the Whitechapel murders to make them grow up. By Danny Turner 11 Yellow ...read more.

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