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Why were the police unable to catch Jack the Ripper

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Introduction

Why were the police unable to catch Jack the Ripper? Catching a serial killer today is no easy job, but more than 100 years ago it was an even more difficult job. The police then had to face no forensics, little structure within the forces, people unwilling to help, and yet they were still expected to find the ripper. In 1888 there were no forensics, no DNA tests and no fingerprinting. The area in which the murders occurred was an especially abysmal place where people often walked round covered in blood due to the slaughter houses. The technology of the time wouldn't have been able to distinguish between human and animal blood. The lack of forensic tests would also make it difficult to prove conclusively if two or more crimes had been committed by the same person. These limits were partly because of the bungling police work. Normally the police did not investigate cases like this under as much pressure. They only investigated this case because the rich had become concerned over the plight of the poor, as did the press. ...read more.

Middle

There was a history of rivalry between the two forces which meant information wasn't shared properly. The forces didn't have structure or good working practice. Of course, the police's job wasn't made any easier by an unhelpful public. They expected the police to catch the Ripper but weren't prepared to help. The people of Whitechapel were so petrified that they looked for scapegoats, grasping onto the Jewish community to blame. The fact that a witness in the Annie Chapman murder pointed towards a foreigner, added to the fact that 'Leather Apron' was Jewish quickly conjured up a very anti-Semitic atmosphere. In addition, every so called witness gave a different description which meant the police were not even able to create an accurate artists impression of possible suspects. This lack of reliable witnesses slowed down the case. The public's unhelpfulness was increased by the press' interference and opinions on the case. The press of the day were sensationalist. Not only did the press publish pictures which fuelled the anti-Jewish feelings within the public, they also wrote their own hoax letters supposedly from the killer. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unless aided by competent experts and supported by law enforcement agencies, many present-day departments cannot be expected to effectively investigate and resolve such murderous incidents should they occur in their field. The Green River Killer case is an example of this. In the reports for it, you see events comparable with those of the Ripper inquiry. Unlike the Ripper hunt, women police officers were used as decoy "customers". However, it was thought too dangerous for the women officers to enter a customer's vehicle in the hope of catching the killer. In the Ripper inquiry, sufficient record keeping, and information management/co-ordination was practically absent; and in the Green River Killer case it was too late in coming. In both investigations, the relationship between the law enforcement agencies and their relationship with the public was not idyllic. In both investigations, police also did not have the right knowledge and resources to accurately measure the situation, grasp its significant factors, and immediately collect an appropriate reaction. Even if the Jack the Ripper, and Green River Killer investigations had possessed the needed means, their investigations could not have lasted the absence of key people, poor public relations, interagency conflict, bad judgments, missed opportunities, or the exclusion of women from highly dangerous police work. ...read more.

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