Investigating Why the Police Were Unable to Catch Jack the Ripper

Investigating Why the Police Were Unable to Catch Jack the Ripper

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Investigating Why the Police Were Unable to Catch Jack the Ripper

I believe the most important reason why Jack the Ripper was so hard to
catch was because of the lack of evidence. In those days they did not
have as advanced technology as we have today for instance, we have
forensics where we can tell from a strand of hair who that hair
belongs to. In those days they were only just learning the
significance of footprints to catching a villain. Another part to this
is that Jack the Ripper was so random towards who he killed the police
could not find a link between the murders except that they were all
prostitutes, which did not really help, although prostitute murders
were not terribly uncommon.

The press coverage to the case didn’t help much as they had forced the
police to investigate ‘Leather Apron’ and this wasted a significant
amount of the police time which, if spent properly, may have allowed
them to uncover more information needed to catch the Ripper.
Furthermore, the public reaction was very unhelpful, as the people in
Whitechapel did not like the police for many reasons. The police had
brought a bad reputation to their name with acts of violence. Due to
this history behind the police, the locals decided not to help the
police as much as they could have in their investigations.

The lack of policemen did not help either. They had a very small
force. In 1878 the old department was abolished and the CID was
created which helped considerably. (The table below shows the
statistics for the police force)

1879

1884

Number of detectives

216

294

Number of arrests

13,128

18,344

The police did not offer a reward for catching the Ripper because it
would have attracted too much attention. They believed this would
create several false leads and would waste police time. The ‘from
hell’ letter was a example of a possible false lead. It was very

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gruesome, but police couldn’t be sure if it was a hoax or not, so this
wasted police time the study of this letter would have taken up too
much of police time.

Scrubbing the writing off the wall would have wasted precious evidence
as they could have taken pictures so they could compare other people’s
handwriting to it. The reason the writing was scrubbed off so quickly
was because it blamed the Jew’s for the murders and the police did not
want to spark of racist attacks.

The quickness of the killings and the accuracy lead the police to
believe that the Ripper may have been in some way a man with a medical
background. Also the brutality of the murders, for instance the first
murder (Polly Nicholls) wasn’t terribly gory. She had only one cut
which was from ear to ear. The second murder (Annie Chapman) was
slightly worse as this time organs had been placed above the body such
as the small intestines but they were still attached. There was a
large quantity of blood and part of the stomach was placed above the
left shoulder. The throat was severed deeply and the incision of the
skin was jagged and reached right around the neck. These murders kept
getting increasingly worse until the fifth and final murder (Mary
Kelly) in which the whole surface of the abdomen and thighs were cut
off, the breasts were cut off, and the internal organs removed. The
tissues of the neck were slashed through to the bone. The uterus,
kidneys and one breast were found under the head, the other breast by
her right foot, the liver between her feet, the intestines by her
right side and the spleen by her left. Her heart was cut out and could
not be found, but in this last murder Dr Bond didn’t believe the
murderer had any medical knowledge. (Dr Bond was the pathologist)

Many people thought the royal family was in someway connected to this
case because the Queen’s grandson has been rumoured to have visited
several whore houses. If this was the case, some of these prostitutes
may have his children. This would need to be covered up, in which
case, the royal family would have hired assassins to kill the
prostitutes in question. Another rumour was that it was the Queen’s
surgeon. If it had have been the Queens surgeon it would have been
difficult to prove as probing into royal affairs would have been very
difficult. This could have been classed as conspiring against the
Queen, and trying to frame her for a part in the murders.

The Ripper always acted at night, so it would have been difficult for
witnesses to give detailed descriptions of him. The police couldn’t
really know who to keep close eyes on. One problem, which the police
had, was that one of the murders was committed in a part of London,
which was policed by another force. The two forces would not
co-operate by sharing information so both forces may have missed out
on vital evidence which could have helped solve the case faster and
have more men power in the needed place.
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