The Press And The Police

On Monday the 10th of September, 1888, with the East End of London still reeling from the shock of the murder of Annie Chapman, which had taken place two days previous, The Pall Mall Gazette published a roundup of what other newspapers were saying about the state of crime in London:-


The Daily Chronicle says:-

“The Metropolitan Police are simply letting the first city of the world lapse into primeval savagery.

In the space of a year and a half, despite the protests of the press and of local authorities, they have permitted district after district to fall under the terrorism of the youthful rowdy.

Marylebone was recently scourged by tribal warfare.


Whitechapel, according to their own admission, has for a year or two been swarming with gangs of blackguards, who live by extorting, under threats of brutal torture, blackmail from the unfortunate women who flit through its alleys like midnight birds of prey.

There is now reason to think that they have finally handed over this afflicted neighbourhood to the tender mercies of an assassin, who butchers his victims almost within earshot of the street patrols.

The Punch Cartoon Blind Mans Buff showing a blind-folded police officer being taunted by criminals.
Blind Mans Buff – A Punch Cartoon From 1888.


One good result, we believe, will spring from this outbreak of crime in Whitechapel.

The people of London will tolerate no longer the crotchets of Scotland-yard, which sacrifices the efficiency of the preventive and detective for the sake of developing the fine military side of the police force.”


The Morning Advertiser says:-

“Should these deeds go ‘unwhipt of justice,’ and remain in the long catalogue of undiscovered crimes, there will be substantial ground for public distrust, and ample reason for that reorganization of the London police system which, in the opinion of many people, has long been an importunate necessity.”


The Standard says:-

“The affair is one which should put the police authorities on their mettle, for if they bungle it their credit will be disastrously impaired and a serious blow given to the public confidence in their abilities.

This, of course, is well understood at headquarters. Every nerve will be strained in the chase of this bloodthirsty scoundrel, and we trust that the pursuit will be short, sharp, and speedily successful.”


The Daily News says:-

The police have a good deal of lost ground to recover.

In the past year or two they have failed to bring many terrible offenders to justice.

The Kentish Town murder is still one of the mysteries of crime, and so is the murder at Canonbury. A lady was murdered near Bloomsbury Square last year – the murderer has not been found. At about the same time a solicitor’s clerk was murdered in Arthur Street with precisely the same result.

It is certain that no effort will be spared; but the public will hardly be satisfied with an assurance of that sort.

The police must somehow contrive to win this time.”