Jack the Ripper: The Investigating Officers

DATED: 30.08.14

During the investigation of the Ripper case, there were actually two separate police forces investigating the crimes, the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police; which force investigated what murders was largely down to where the body was found in London.

Regardless of who had jurisdiction, there were some notable characters overseeing the whole processes and while some were beloved by the rank and fil officers and the public, others were vilified and slammed in the media for their perceived incompetence.

Sir Charles Warren

Though often depicted as little more than a blundering blowhard, this old colonel was in fact a very capable officer. Appointed Commissioner in 1886, Warren already had an impressive service record behind him. He had a well-established military career, having served with the Royal Engineers in Palestine and fighting in the Kaffir War; he hoped that his martial bearing would inject some much needed discipline into Met Police. Though his stern, militaristic manner earned him the respect of his fellow officers and the rank and file Bobbies, the press lavished him with nothing but scandal and accusation, especially after some notable riots where police brutality was rampant. When Jack the Ripper started plying his brutal trade and it seemed the police were unable to catch the culprit, the papers hounded him. He resigned as Commissioner in November 1888 only to be replaced by his subordinate James Monro…

James Monro

Before becoming Commissioner, Monro Assistant Commissioner and a member of the infamous ‘Section D’ – a secret branch of the police force which reported directly to the home secretary rather than the Sir Charles Warren. Needless to say, this caused a rift between the two and their fiery arguments were legendary. Though he was not technically a member of the police, his appointment was welcomed by the press and the force. He pursued the Ripper case with vigour, he visited the murder scenes personally and was said to have a number of leads and sources of information. Though he rarely gave interviews, and left no memoirs, many ‘Ripperologists’ believe that Monro, though unsuccessful in solving the murders, knew more than he let on… He would later resign in 1890 following a row with the Home Office about the Police Pensions Bill. He left the force a hero who stood up for the rights of officers.

Donald Sutherland Swanson

Having started out as a teacher, Swanson soon grew weary of that profession and decided instead to join the police. Over the years he would work his way through the ranks, finally becoming super intendant in 1896. While investigating the Whitechapel murders, he was put in charge of the case between September and October 1888 by Dr Robert Anderson, the then Assistant Commissioner. As part of the investigation Swanson was given access to absolutely every piece of evidence related to the case; documents, reports, telegrams, everything. Because of this, it is argued that Swanson had perhaps the best all round knowledge of the case and according to the Ripper Casebook ‘a newspaper article reported that “…Mr Swanson believed the crimes to be the work of a man who is now dead.”’ Whether he knew the truth or not, we shall never know…

These are just three of the most prominent figures involved in tracking down the infamous Jack the Ripper. To learn more about this gruesome killing spree and see the evidence and locations for yourself, join us on one of our Jack the Ripper tours! Full details, including booking information, can be found on our website.


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The Jack the Ripper Casebook