Fingerprints, Photos and Sketches

DATED: 22.09.15

The Modern Day Crime Scene

Sad though it may be, in today’s world, you are highly unlikely to witness a murder or gruesome crime that doesn’t have a white tent erected in quick succession post-discovery. This is shortly followed by those covered in white overalls, masks and shoe covers, as they comb the surrounding area for clues; from an actual weapon to fibres and strands of hair. Let break it down for you.

Today’s Technology

The level of expertise that our detectives and crime units now hold is little short of unbelievable. Technological advancements now mean we can solve crimes that otherwise, for lack of a better phrase, would have been dead-ends.

With the use of photography, DNA matching software and other testing beyond our imagination, villains in the 21st century are faced with the very likely and real chance that they will be caught, with undisputable evidence against them.

Victorian Era Techniques

When you scroll back through history and reach the mid-to-late-1800s though, it is surprising how, despite the Victorian efficiency in inventions, they were not using the identification method of fingerprinting; even after the discovery from Englishman Sir William Herschel in 1858.

Despite photography (not as we know it today) being available, it was only the late Mary Kelly, the last Ripper victim, who was photographed at the scene. Initially,  there were pictures of the victims’ eyes, in the hope that there may be an etching of Jack in their retinas. This method, of course,  was largely flawed and not at all useful.

Upon finding the bodies, police wanted rid of them ASAP, to dampen any low morale or impending panic that may begin to rear its head.

What Could Have Been Gained?

There is no question about the usefulness of accurate depictions of a crime scene, as whilst investigating officers try their best, they are not equipped with super-powered memories. Photographing or sketching the scene at the time of the murder can greatly increase the chance of officers and other investigators being able to see the exact scene and surroundings.

Clues or debris left at the scene can be better identified if there is evidence of it being at the scene, and where it may have been relevant.

Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing,  and it is likely that if the Victorians had had a more thorough and observant approach, Jack the Ripper may have been caught. But, as with all things, if the technology wasn’t there at the time, then there is little to be done now.

Apart from coming to London that is, and taking a tour with us to see what took place in those dark days at Whitechapel.


 7 Days a Week

AT 5:00PM & 7:30PM

Tour Duration

1 hr 45 mins


The Jack the Ripper Casebook