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Were the police to blame for Jack the Ripper not being caught Assignment

Question 1

In source A, an article published in a local newspaper, we learn about the deaths of Tabram and Nichols. We learn about how it is already believed that both murders were committed by the same person; ‘in each murder’ and ‘both crimes’, these quotes tell us the journalist has linked the two murders, then carries on the link by saying, ‘a demented being’, implying it was one person. This link would have been made to sell issues, as this was the first serial killer recorded, so it would have been big news to have similar deaths close in time to each other. The quote ‘the two murders…are singular’ supports this, by simply meaning nothing like this has happened before.

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However, this article is from a local paper, and therefore may not be reliable, as it will be exaggerated to frighten more, so it can sell more copies. Also we know now that the two murders were almost defiantly not linked, as Tabram’s murderer was more frenzied.

Question 2

Source C is the report of Dr. Frederick Blackwell, written about the body of Elizabeth Stride; it was intended for the police.

We can tell it’s factual information, ‘Her face was looking towards…’, this is very precise, and must be accurate as the doctor would gain nothing from lying.

Source A is part of an article published in the East End Observer, it was written to inform the public about the murders of Martha Tabram and Polly Nicholls. Source C is more reliable than A, as it was written by a doctor, not a journalist who cares more for money than the doctor. So the doctor should be trusted more out of the two. Although C supports A as they both talk about ‘extraordinary violence’, and ‘cutting the windpipe completely in two’, suggesting they were both badly mutilated, and very unsightly.

Source B is a Coroner’s report on the body of Polly Nicholls, it was written to inform the police of the way Nicholls died.

Sources B and C have a few similarities, they are both doctors reports, so will be concise. Dr Blackwell mentions a ‘long incision’, and the coroner talks of how ‘there are no meaning less cuts’, both reports suggesting an intentional murder.

However, source B comments on the Rippers gender ‘he’ and how he would need anatomical knowledge ‘no mere slaughter of animals’, while source C talks about the body, ‘the deceased…’ meaning both reporters are slightly different in what they are reporting.

In conclusion source C only supports A in the way they both mention, there is no finical gain, but with that aside, source A is contradictive to C. Yet source C in accord to B that they were both controlled murders. Also C supports B in the suggestion that the murderer knew what he wanted to do.

Question 3

Source D and E are useful in the explanation of why Jack the Ripper was able to, and did avoid capture.

Source D is a witness statement by Elizabeth Long. It describes a man she saw with Annie Chapman before her death. To the police, Long was their key witness, claming to see him, yet her statement is very vague, and could have been misleading, for example, ‘but I cannot be sure.’ This indicates that none of the witness statements could have been reliable if their best was so inexact. So without modern day CCTV, and no reliable witnesses, the police were unlikely to catch the Ripper, as they wouldn’t be able to identify him.

Source E, an article from a local newspaper gives us an insight into life in Whitechapel and how the Ripper could avoid capture, by describing Whitechapel as; ‘connected by a network of narrow, dark and crooked lanes,’ this tells us two things; firstly the Ripper had an easy way to avoid capture which was to use these lanes; and secondly the Ripper must have known the area, otherwise would have got lost, and most probably caught.

Both sources are useful in telling us how the Ripper avoided capture. Although both could be doubted (E more than D), as source D could be bias for unknown reasons, such as she could have been threatened or bribed to say this, yet it still shows us how the Ripper avoided capture, which was by not been seen. However, source E could be bias to sell papers, and it is only part of an article. All together though, both sources explain ways which the Ripper used to avoid capture.

Question 4

The police did what they could to solve this series of murders: they explored every street and avenue around Whitechapel looking around for clues; they interviewed thousands of lodgers and house keepers. They tried training bloodhounds to trace the steps of Jack the Ripper, and they even had male officers dress up as prostitutes.

Source F was a police leaflet, sent out to request any information the public may have. They do this by mentioning the dates ‘Friday 31st August…’, by doing this, they are hoping to encourage any witnesses to come forward. Clearly the police have researched and collected information about the murderer, and are informing the public of what they know, ‘in or near Whitechapel… residing in the immediate neighbourhood’, this shows that the police are trying different methods of getting statements, which is supported by the quote ‘you are earnestly requested to communicate at once with the nearest police station’.

Source G is reply to George Lusk from the ‘Home Secretary’ who is in charge of the police force. The letter is to notify Lusk why ‘offering reward for the discovery criminals was discontinued.’ This probably would have been sent because George Lusk was head of the Mile End Vigilance Committee, and might of asked why they weren’t using a reward system. We also learn why the system was discontinued, ‘such offers tended to produce more harm than good’, which indicates that the police just end up with more problems.

This source also shows that they are listening to the publics suggestions, and considering them carefully thus indicating they are trying as much as they can, (or that they aren’t, but want the public to think they are’. However, if the police used the advice of one letter which was to use fingerprints, they could’ve found his prints on a crime scene, then search for him. This would have almost defiantly caught him.

The police tried catching the Ripper by using rubber soles on their shoes to sneak up on him silently; they dressed up as prostitutes on a night in hope to catch him out. They used bloodhounds, which they trained to pick up the scent of the Ripper. They sent out leaflets and over 80,000 handbills in attempt to get more witness statements.

In conclusion, the police did everything humanly possible to catch the Ripper, but they just weren’t equipped enough to catch him, as he managed to outsmart them in almost everyway.

Question 5

The Jack the Ripper case has puzzled historians for years, many now think that he police weren’t to blame for not capturing the Ripper, I also agree with this. However in 1888 the police were criticised and blamed for not succeeding in catching the Ripper.

The police force at the time was quite small, and in desperate need of structure ‘police force…should be strengthened’ and ‘some order created’. Also the police seemed to be just moments away from the Ripper, ‘neck and chest were still warm’, this all indicates that with the police had more men and were more aware of the Whitechapel alleyways, thus they may have had a chance to catch him.

The two police forces involved in catching the Ripper needed to be kept in better contact with each other so they both knew everything, ‘referred from one police officer to another’, because they didn’t, one of the officers may not have had a vital piece of information they needed.

The police started to think all they could do was catch the Ripper in act as they were getting nowhere with there leads, ‘all the police can hope… circumstances… successful conclusion’, indicating even they thought they should have done more.

The police had hundreds of letters sent to them with suggestions on ways to catch the Ripper and letters supposedly from the Ripper himself. Like the fingerprint letter, or a letter about ears, ‘the next job I do, I shall cut the ladys ear off’, (they then did find the lady’s ear cut of). However both of these and many others were ignored or not traced, leading them to less suspects.

Also the police had few leads to follow, as all there eye witnesses were so vague, ‘cannot be sure’ but the police couldn’t help this unreliability as they did try to get more statements from the public, ‘requested to communicate’. And with no guess on who he might be and from what class ‘no adequate motif’ the police had little chance at catching the Ripper.

The police also tried things that had not been done before, they trained bloodhounds to try and follow the scent of the ripper, but this failed, as two got lost. They tried inventing noiseless boots to sneak up on the Ripper, but the rubber soled shoes also didn’t work, as they never really got close enough to follow him. They had officers dress up as prostitutes, this would have been very humiliating, and dangerous, but none of them got approached by anyone. They question over 2,000 people, put more men on the beat, and handed out thousands of leaflets, but nothing came up.

Overall, in my opinion, the police were not to blame as they did their best, considering this was the first serial killing recorded, and the police force was quite new, so we can’t expect them to have done brilliantly in this case. The police did what they could by warning prostitutes not to go out, so it was down to them to stop doing their job to prevent another murder.

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