A Thousand Arrests

On Saturday the 22nd of August, 1903, The Falkirk Herald looked back on the career of Metropolitan police officer Andrew Bates, who was just about to retire from the force after twenty six years of service:-

A THOUSAND ARRESTS

AN OFFFICER WHO HAS TRAVELLED 12,000 Miles

A whole budget of reminiscences are the result of the 26 years’ experiences of Warrant Officer Andrew Bates, who has just retired from the Metropolitan Police.

During the nine years he has been warrant officer Bow Street Mr Bates has served nearly 20,000 summonses and has made over 1,000 arrests. At a modest computation he has travelled 12,000 miles in pursuance of his duty, and it is no wonder that he claims a wide and varied knowledge the Metropolis.

“I guarantee that I know name every court and alley within a two-mile radius of Bow Street Police Court,” he says.

The front of Bow Street Police Station.
The Bow Street Fa├žade Of The Former Police Station. September 2016.

SOME DIFFICULT QUESTIONS

At the same time he confessed that there have been times when questioners have made him think twice.

“On one occasion, I was on duty in Chancery Lane,” he said, when a man asked me the nearest way Leeds.” And queries as to what time the next train from Charing Cross started have worried him more than once.

HIS TIME IN THE POLICE

Bates joined the Metropolitan Force 1877, and a few years after came the dynamiters’ scare caused by the explosion at the Tower.

I was in plain clothes watching for suspected persons entering the Law Courts, Somerset House, and the British Museum,'” he said. “Dozens of the suspects pasted me, but they were always followed.”

Afterwards, dressed as a clerk in uniform, he examined packages in the cloak room, at Charing Cross.

“Once or twice, hearing a mysterious ticking, we opened trunks in search of machines, but never founds anything but American clocks.”

THE TRAFALGAR SQUARE RIOTS

Then he assisted quelling the Trafalgar Square riot – “Bloody Sunday,” as it was called.

“The Socialists meetings in the square became such a nuisance that the Home Secretary and Sir Charles Warren decided to stop them.”

“One thousand five hundred policemen were placed in square that Sunday, and at four in the afternoon the Socialists came on the scene.

Blows were freely struck by both sides, and eventually the Foot Guards and the Life Guards had to assist us, and last the police were left in possession. We took seventy-five prisoners, but several constables were injured.

An Illustration showing the Bloody Sunday riot in Trafalgar Square.
The Bloody Sunday Clash Between Police and Socialists in Trafalgar Square, November 1887.

THE JACK THE RIPPER SCARE

Mr Bates was also among the special body of police officers told off to patrol Whitechapel during the “Jack the Ripper” scare.

“I can safely say that I never saw a woman in the streets after eleven o’clock,” he went on, “unless she was in a great hurry to get home.”

THE POLICE THEN AND NOW

When Bates joined the force, Sir E. Henderson was at the head of the Metropolitan Police, and, in addition, he has served under Sir Charles Warren, Mr Monro, Sir E. Bradford, and Mr Henry.

During that time the force has been increased by about 6,000 men.

“The discipline was as good when I joined as it is now,” he observed, “but seems to me that the men of the present day are better educated and have more knowledge of things in general.

But, it takes the sharpest-witted man about five years to learn the ordinary business of the constable.”