Crime In Whitechapel Getting Worse

In the wake of the murder of Annie Chapman, which took place in the backyard of number 29, Hanbury Street on the 8th of September 1888, newspapers began taking a close look at the district in which the murders were occurring, and what they reported was, to say the least, disturbing.

On Saturday the 15th of September, The Edinburgh Evening News published the following article which showed just how bad things were getting in Whitechapel, irrespective of the murders that were taking place there:-


The people of Whitechapel – the respectable people of Whitechapel that is – want more policemen. And not without reason. Whenever you inquire you get some fresh story of robbery and outrages, committed often in broad daylight.

A Star reporter yesterday morning made some inquiries in the streets lying between the scenes of the last two murders, and found that since the Buck’s Row crime hardly a day has passed that has been unmarked by some brutal assault and robbery by a gang.


Several such offences have happened during the last few days, while the place has been swarming with plain clothes policemen.

Last Saturday afternoon in the Whitechapel Road, while the murder excitement was at its height, a man was attacked and robbed of his watch.

A view along 19th century Whitechapel Road.
Whitechapel Road In Victorian Times.


On Wednesday a gentleman was robbed in Hanbury Street at eleven o’clock in the morning.

In the afternoon of the same day, in the same street, another old gentleman was hustled and robbed of part of his watch chain, luckily not losing his watch.

In Chicksand Street, not yards away, an old man of seventy was robbed and ill-used in a similar manner.

In Baker’s Row, within a stone’s throw, a feeble old man was badly beaten with the stick he was walking with; and at night, at 10 o’clock, in Baker’s Row, at the corner of Hanbury Street, a young man was the victim of a brutal onslaught because he looked respectable and worth robbing.

Yesterday morning, a baker named Barnett, who keeps a shop in Hanbury Street, was robbed of £19 from a till in which a key had been left only for a few seconds. He followed the thief, but couldn’t catch him, and a policeman was nowhere to be seen.


Whitechapel always has been a rough and not particularly honest neighbourhood.

Every respectable inhabitant seems to have been robbed at one time or other, but the unanimous testimony is that every day Whitechapel is getting worse.

It has come to such a pass that a tobacconist in Baker’s Row, who recently has recently been a frequent victim, has had to screw everything he possibly can to the counter.