This is the territorial police force responsible for Greater London, excluding the ‘square mile’ of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police.
The area policed by the Metropolitan Police Service is known as the Metropolitan Police District (MPD). The MPS is divided into a number of Borough Operational Command Units which directly align with the 32 London boroughs covered. The City of London (which is not a London borough) is a separate police area and is the responsibility of the separate City of London Police.
The Metropolitan Police Service was founded in 1829, under the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, and at that time merged with the River Thames Marine Police Force, which had been formed in 1798.
Following the murders of Jack the Ripper there were many hoax letters, claiming to come from the serial killer. Many researchers argue however, that the ‘From Hell” letter is one of a handful of possibly authentic writings, and the reason for this is that it was delivered with a small box containing half of a human kidney.
The text of the letter is as follows:
I send you half the
Kidne I took from one women
prasarved it for you tother piece
I fried and ate it was very nise. I
may send you the bloody knif that
took it out if you only wate a whil
Catch me when
The author of the letter did not sign it with the pseudonym ‘Jack the Ripper’, distinguishing it from the earlier “Dear Boss” letter, the “Saucy Jacky” postcard, and their imitations. The ‘From Hell’ letter is also written at a much lower literacy level than the other two, though scholars debate whether this is deliberate.
The original letter, as well as the kidney that accompanied it, have been lost along with other items that were originally contained within the Ripper police files.
The surviving police files on the Whitechapel murders allow a detailed view of investigative procedure in the Victorian era. A large team of policemen conducted house-to-house inquiries throughout Whitechapel. Forensic material was collected and examined. Suspects were identified, traced and either examined more closely or eliminated from the inquiry. Over 2000 people were interviewed, the alibis of 300 people were investigated, and 80 people were detained.
The investigation was initially conducted by the Metropolitan Police Whitechapel Division Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headed by Detective Inspector Edmund Reid. After the murder of Nichols, Detective Inspectors Frederick Abberline, Henry Moore, and Walter Andrews were sent from Central Office at Scotland Yard to assist. After the Eddowes murder, which occurred within the City of London, the City Police under Detective Inspector James McWilliam were involved. However, overall direction of the murder enquiries was hampered by the fact that the newly appointed head of the CID, Robert Anderson, was on leave in Switzerland between 7 September and 6 October, during the time Chapman, Stride and Eddowes were killed. This prompted the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren, to appoint Chief Inspector Donald Swanson to coordinate the enquiry from Scotland Yard.
Partly because of dissatisfaction with the police effort, a group of volunteer citizens in London’s East End, called the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, patrolled the streets looking for suspicious characters. The committee petitioned the government to raise a reward for information about the killer, and hired private detectives to question witnesses independently. It was led by George Lusk, a local builder who was elected chairman during the committee’s first meeting on 10 September 1888.
The Daily Telegraph reported on 5 October 1888 that the leading members of the committee were ‘drawn principally from the trading class, and include a builder, a cigar-manufacturer, a tailor, a picture-frame maker, a licensed victualler, and ‘an actor’.”
As chairman of the committee, Lusk’s name appeared in the national newspapers and on posters in Whitechapel appealing for information concerning the identity of Jack the Ripper and complaining about the lack of a reward for such information from the government. Due to this publicity, Lusk received threatening letters through the post, allegedly from the murderer. Lusk is also mentioned in a letter dated 17 September 1888, reportedly discovered among archive materials in the late 20th century; however, most experts dismiss this as a modern hoax.
On 30 September 1888 the committee members wrote to the government under Lord Salisbury in an attempt to persuade them to offer a reward for information leading to the apprehension of the killer. When the Home Secretary Henry Matthews refused, the committee offered its own reward. The committee also employed two private detectives, Mr. Le Grand (or Grand) and Mr. J. H. Batchelor, to investigate the murders without the involvement of the local police.
The committee was unhappy with the level of protection that the community was receiving from the police, so it introduced its own system of local patrols, using hand-picked unemployed men to patrol the streets of the East End every evening from midnight to between four and five the next morning. Each of these men received a small wage from the Committee, and patrolled a particular beat, being armed with a police whistle, a pair of galoshes and a strong stick. The committee itself met each evening at nine in the Crown public house, and once the public house closed at 12:30 a.m. the committee members would inspect and join the patrols.
At the end of October, Robert Anderson asked police surgeon Thomas Bond to give his opinion on the extent of the murderer’s surgical skill and knowledge. The opinion offered by Bond on the character of the ‘Whitechapel murderer’ is the earliest surviving offender profile. Bond’s assessment was based on his own examination of the most extensively mutilated victim and the post mortem notes from the four previous canonical murders.
Bond was strongly opposed to the idea that the murderer possessed any kind of scientific or anatomical knowledge, or even ‘the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer’. In his opinion the killer must have been a man of solitary habits, subject to ‘periodical attacks of homicidal and erotic mania’, with the character of the mutilations possibly indicating ‘satyriasis’. Bond also stated that ‘the homicidal impulse may have developed from a revengeful or brooding condition of the mind, or that religious mania may have been the original disease but I do not think either hypothesis is likely’.
While there is no evidence of any sexual activity with any of the victims, psychologists suppose that the penetration of the victims with a knife and ‘leaving them on display in sexually degrading positions with the wounds exposed’ indicates that the perpetrator derived sexual pleasure from the attacks. This view is challenged by others who dismiss such hypotheses as insupportable supposition.
Frederick Abberline was a Chief Inspector for the London Metropolitan Police and a prominent police figure in the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888. On 26 February 1887 Abberline transferred to A Division (Whitehall), and then moved to CO Division (Central Office) at Scotland Yard on 19 November 1887, being promoted to Inspector First-Class on 9 February 1888 and to Chief Inspector on 22 December 1890.
Following the murder of Mary Ann Nichols on 31 August 1888, Abberline was seconded back to Whitechapel due to his experience in the area, and placed in charge of the various detectives investigating the case. Chief Inspector Walter Dew, while describing him as sounding and looking like a bank manager, also stated that his knowledge of the area made him one of the most important members of the Whitechapel murder investigation team. Abberline’s primary suspect was Severin Klosowski.
Henry Moore (1848 – 1918) was a British policeman from Northamptonshire. He joined the London Metropolitan Police Service on 26 April 1869, was promoted to Sergeant on 29 August 1872, and became an Inspector on 25 August 1878. On 30 April 1888, he joined the Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland Yard. He was promoted to first class inspector on 22 December 1890, and to Chief Inspector on 27 September 1895. He retired from the Metropolitan force on 9 October 1899.
In September 1888, he was seconded from Scotland Yard to Whitechapel to strengthen the investigation into the Whitechapel murders, which were blamed on a character known as ‘Jack the Ripper’. By July 1889, he had taken over from Inspector Frederick Abberline as the lead investigative officer in the case. He remained the lead detective until 1896, by which time the murderer, who was never caught, appeared to be inactive.
Walter Simon Andrews (1847 – 1899) was a British policeman and one of three inspectors (the other two being Frederick Abberline and Henry Moore) who were sent from Scotland Yard to Whitechapel in 1888 to strengthen the investigation of the Whitechapel murders.
Andrews joined the London Metropolitan Police Service on 15 November 1869. He was promoted to Detective Sergeant on 18 November 1875, and to Inspector on 6 July 1878. Walter Andrews retired in 1889. At the age of 52, he committed suicide.
Sir Robert Anderson, KCB (1841 – 1918), was the second Assistant Commissioner (Crime) of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1888 to 1901. He was also an intelligence officer, theologian and writer.
Anderson began to practise as a barrister. However, in 1865 his father showed him papers relating to the trials of Fenians and he too became involved in the operations against them, becoming the foremost expert on them and operations against them.
In May 1884 he was forced to resign his Home Office post, to be replaced by Edward Jenkinson. In 1886 he was also removed from the Prison Commission.
However, in 1887 Jenkinson resigned, and Anderson was once again the only man available with experience in anti-Fenian activities. He was asked to assist James Monro, Assistant Commissioner (Crime) at Scotland Yard, in operations related to political crime. In 1888, Monro was promoted to Commissioner, and Anderson replaced him as Assistant Commissioner, the post he was to hold for the rest of his career.
Anderson retired in 1901 and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB), having been appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1896. He died from the Spanish Influenza in 1918.
The Criminal Investigation Department was then just starting the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders, which he thought were grossly over-sensationalised. Almost immediately after being promoted, Anderson went on an extended vacation in France, leaving others in charge. He was called back after a month because of increased bad publicity over the Ripper murders.
General Sir Charles Warren (1840 – 1927) was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of Temple Mount. Much of his military service was spent in the British South Africa, but in earlier life he was Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the head of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1886 to 1888, during the period of the Jack the Ripper murders.
Warren’s biggest difficulty was the Jack the Ripper case. He was probably unfairly blamed for the failure to track down the killer and faced press accusations that were frequently baseless. He was accused of failing to offer a reward for information, although in fact he supported the idea and it was blocked by the Home Office.
He was accused of not putting enough police officers on the ground, whereas in fact Whitechapel was swamped with them. He was accused of being more interested in uniformed policing than detective work, which was true, but failed to take into consideration the fact that he allowed his experienced detective officers to conduct their own affairs and rarely interfered in their operations. He was accused of not using bloodhounds, and when he did eventually bring them in he was accused of being obsessed with them.
He responded to these criticisms by attacking his detractors in the pages of Murray’s Magazine, supporting vigilante activity, which the police on the streets knew was a bad idea, and publicly complaining about his lack of control of CID, which brought an official Home Office reprimand for discussing his office publicly without permission. Warren had had enough and resigned coincidentally right before the murder of Mary Jane Kelly on 9 November 1888. Every superintendent on the force visited him at home to express their regret.
Warren’s resignation hindered the investigation. He had given an order that if another murder occurred, nobody was to enter the scene – a strange turn of phrase as the four previous victims had all been found in the open street – until he arrived to direct the investigation. Consequently, when the murder of Kelly was discovered by a rent collector who looked in through the window of her room in a Spitalfields lodging house, the police did not enter the room for some three hours because, unaware of his resignation, they were waiting for Warren to arrive. Eventually, he returned to military duties.
Chief Inspector Donald Sutherland Swanson (1848 – 1924) was born in Thurso in Scotland, and was a senior police officer in the Metropolitan Police in London during the notorious Jack the Ripper murders of 1888.
Swanson joined the Metropolitan Police on April 1868, and was given the warrant number 50282. By November 1887 Swanson was Chief Inspector of the CID in the Commissioner’s Office at Scotland Yard. He was promoted to Superintendent in 1896. He retired in 1903.
Robert Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), placed Swanson in overall charge of the investigation into the Whitechapel Murders from 1 September to 6 October 1888. Swanson was freed from all other duties and given his own office at Scotland Yard from which he was co-ordinating inquiries. He was given permission to see ‘every paper, every document, every report and every telegram’ concerning the investigation.