Crime and Punishment in Whitechapel
Crime and Punishment in Whitechapel
Context: Policing the nation
How police forces were organised
Many counties has their own force, and within counties many cities and towns had separate forces.
The home secretary had little control over police forces outside London.
The Metropolitan Police reported directly to the home secretary.
By 1885 the Met was made up of 13,319 men among a population of around 5 million.
Using sources for an enquiry into policing
The National Archive has statistics for crime and policing.
The detective force in London grew from 216 in 1878 to 294 in 1883.
The number of arrests rose from 13,000 in 1878 to 18,000 in 1883.
Police and court records
During the 1860s a Middlebrough policeman could expect to be assualted twice a year.
Freedom licenses- official release papers for prisoners, not covered by police station records.
There are extensive archives of records from court cases, e.g. those in Whitechapel that were tried at the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court in London).
Memoirs and reports
Need to be treated with care as people tend to present their lives in a positive way.
Usually more truthful with the facts than the press.
Seemed to value getting a good story ahead of the facts.
Illustrated Police News
sounds official but was a sensationalist 'penny dreadful' and very anti-police.
Police newspapers appeared from the 1860s to combat the negativity of the press.
The Criminal Investigation Department
A detective department in the Met.
Added in 1842.
Aimed to clear up confusions between crime prevention and detection and prevent corruption.
Ultimately, detection standards didn't improve and corruption continued.
Commissioner Charles Warren
A former general appointed as Metropolitan Police Commissioner in 1886.
Probably intended as a warning to 'troublemaking opponents' of the government.
Contribute to the idea that the police were simply government in uniform.
Called in the army to control protesters on 'Bloody Sunday' which added to the growing feeling that the police favoured the middle and upper classes against the poor.
Forced out as Commissioner after the failure of the police in the Ripper case.
Criticised by all sides for appearing to enjoy the action on 'Bloody Sunday'.
The local context of Whitechapel
Pollution and poor sanitation
London was a heavily polluted industrial city.
The wind from the West carried smoke and gas fumes into Whitechapel.
There was little healthy drinking water and sewers ran into the streets.
The majority of housing was in overcrowded slum areas known as 'rookeries'.
There could be up to 30 people in one apartment.
The 1881 census showed a population of around 30,000 in Whitechapel but only around 4000 occupied houses.
Some lodging houses had three eight hour sleeping shifts a day.
There were over 200 lodging houses in Whitechapel where more than 8,000 people lived.
The Peabody Estate
In 1875 Parliament passed the Artisans Dwellings Act as part of a slum clearance programme.
The Estate was 11 new blocks of flats paid for by George Peabody.
Opened in 1881.
Weekly rents started at 3 shillings for a one room flat while the average wage was 22 shillings and 6 pence.
Work in Whitechapel
Famous 'Bell Foundry' factory.
Most workers were in 'sweated' trades like tailoring and shoe-making.
Work premises were cramped and dusty with little natural light.
Others worked in unstable jobs in railway construction or on the docks.
The economy became severely depressed in the 1870s and unemployment was widespread.
Workhouses and orphanages
Set up in the early 19th century as part of a poor relief system.
Run by Poor Law administrators.
Offered food and shelter to those too poor to survive in the general community.
Conditions were deliberately made worse than could be provided by a worker to his family to keep costs down by discouraging people to enter.
Expected to do tough manual labour and wear a uniform.
Families were split up and could be punished for talking to each other.
Vagrants were held separately to prevent them from being a bad influence on the others.
Dr Thomas Barnado's first project was a school for children whose parents had died in an outbreak of infectious disease.
One of his pupils, Jim Jarvis, took him to a secret rooftop where hundreds of children gathered to avoid going to a workhouse.
In 1870 he opened an orphanage for boys and later opened a girls' home.
When he died in 1905 there were nearly 100 Barnado's homes nationally, caring for an average 85 children each.
One night an 11-year-old boy was turned away from one of the orphanages as it was full and was later found dead. From then on the home's motto was 'No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission'.
Tensions in Whitechapel