Victorian Policing Failures

DATED: 24.11.16

Just who was Jack the Ripper? A question that has been asked time and time again since the Victorian times, yet we are still waiting for someone to come up with a definitive response.

There are theories and presumptions about the killer, of course, but with no facts, figures and evidence to support them, these speculations are just that: talk. While little is known about Jack the Ripper himself, his actions in 1888 seemed to have caused a ripple of fear and terror that is firmly implanted in our very history. Jack the ripper has become synonymous to inhumane deeds and horrifying morals thanks to his gruesome acts of mutilations and murder.

Still, the question remains, “Who was the Ripper and how did he manage to dodge the Victorian police so effectively?” And above all, if such a specimen is to emerge again, are the modern day police force skilled enough to handle him and would they be able to send him to the gallows where he rightfully belongs?

There is only one way to find out.

 Who was Jack the Ripper and what did he do?

Who was Jack the Ripper? There are many words that can be used to describe him; a murderer is the least of them. Jack the Ripper was a torturer, a body mutilator, a butcher and an inhumane animal. In 1888, at least five female prostitutes were found dead in East End London, with the Ripper believed to have been the perpetrator. To this day, no one knows the exact number of murders he committed – some believe the body count at his hands to be as few at 3 but others say it is more in the region on 11!

The victims were all female; some were found strangled while others had their throats slit. They all were found disfigured with a mangled body and with numerous organs removed. The organs of his victims were removed with such accuracy that Victorian investigators believed that he has some sort of surgical or medical experience.

How the Victorian Police handled the Case?

In the Victorian days, there was no way to catch a murderer by using his fingerprints or matching it to a database of criminal records. The only way to catch a serial killer like Jack was to catch him red-handed, in the act but Jack the Ripper (also known as the Whitechapel butcher) was too smart for that.

It is reported that at the time the first murder was committed, neither the commissioner or the assistant commissioner were on duty. When investigations did begin, it looked as though the media and press had access to every intimate detail of the crimes he committed.

The biggest mistake the police made was when made the decision to remove a message scrawled in blood close by one of the victims, believing it would have caused riots amongst the Jewish community at the time.

The next mistake was the letters: the original writer was never determined, nor was their authenticity. The press got hold of the letters and subsequently, more victims appeared as described in the letters. Was this the work of the Ripper or a copy cat?

How would Police today handle the Case?

 The modern day crime scene investigation involves locking down the area and collecting all evidence with careful precision. This evidence is then examined and scrutinised by scientists and cross-referenced against databases of existing data and records of known criminals to help track down the suspects in question.

As well as this, we have psychological profiling to assist with investigations, directing the police towards characteristics and mannerisms they should be looking for throughout their investigations.

Secondly, crime scene details and information is highly confidential, with only useful facts and details being released to the media, in an attempt to find witnesses and track down the perpetrator in question.

It is fair to say that the modern police force has had years of experience in dealing with these cases, and a lot of scientific and technological assets to assist them. Victorian police were largely inexperienced, and there had been very few cases like the Ripper murders to learn processes and proceedings from.

What do you think?

You can learn more about the police investigation, as well as discover more about the victims, suspects and the case as a whole by joining us on our daily tour. You can book your tickets here!


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Tour Duration

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The Jack the Ripper Casebook