22 September 1888
BALMORAL, Sept. 21.
The Queen went out yesterday morning accompanied by Princess Beatrice and Princess Alice of Hesse, and in the afternoon Her Majesty drove through Braemaer round the Lion's Face, accompanied by Princess Alice of Hesse, and attended by the Dowager Churchill.
Princess Beatrice drove out, attended by Miss Bauer.
His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor of Wales left the Castle for York, attended by Major Miles.
In its present form the London Detective Police is the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry appointed in consequence of the "great detective scandal" in 1877, when three members of the force were proved beyond all doubt to have been in league with a gang of swindlers. The Report of that Commission was never made public, but it was generally understood that all its recommendations for the reorganization of this branch of the metropolitan police were adopted. Under the vigorous hand of Mr. Howard Vincent, at that time a comparatively unknown man, a hard worker, and an earnest Liberal, every detail of the department was subject to some degree of alteration and adjustment. There was scarcely a book or a printed form used in the service that was not subject to some sort of change, and not an office or an officer that did not come under close scrutiny. The investigation was generally held by those who know about such matters to have resulted in the adoption of many improvements on the working of the detective department; but any such alterations as could be taken to indicate that in the opinion of the Commission of Inquiry there had been in the past prevalent corruption or gross maladministration were certainly not made; and it may be said, in round terms, that the London plain clothes police of today are pretty much what they were when the were initiated in August 1842. Perhaps the most important change consisted in an attempt to weld the whole detective force into one body. Formerly every superintendent had a few men in plain clothes under his own immediate control. The number varied according to the extent and character of the division. They were selected by the superintendent from among his own uniformed men, and acted entirely under his direction, and of course only within the limits of his jurisdiction. They were under the command of the superintendent, and were directly controlled by him and not by the central authorities at Scotland yard, where there was a separate force of 30 men. These constituted a part of the A Division in theory, but in fact were entirely directed by a superintendent of their own. There were this 18 or 20 separate detachments of detectives under as many different chiefs, and, it was sometimes felt, not invariably working as harmoniously or advantageously as could be desired.
From the 8th of April, 1878, all this was changed, in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission, and the control of all plain clothes officers placed in the hands of the new Criminal Investigation Department. As now constituted, the ordinary detective force of the metropolis consists of somewhere about 400 men, distributed among the various divisions as before. Added to these, however, there are in the winter season a further force of about 300 plain clothes men. These are known as the "winter patrol," and they are of course drawn from the uniformed ranks. Men who show themselves especially smart and intelligent at ordinary police duty are selected for the winter patrol, and if in this capacity of temporary detective officers they are found exceptionally efficient they are marked for permanent service as vacancies may arise. This is how then detectives are recruited. They are all men who have originally been in the uniformed branch of the service, and have been selected for their peculiar aptitude for detective work. In each division there are a small number of them under the immediate control of a "local inspector," who, though of course subordinate to the divisional superintendent and amenable to his authority, is specially charged with the personal management of the plain clothes men, and, according at least to the original scheme, was supposed to be the divisional representative of the Director of Criminal Investigations, and to be in immediate communication with the central office. He was supposed to take all his instructions from Scotland yard, and thus it was expected that the entire Metropolitan detective force would be welded into one whole harmonious body, working without any clashing or waste of energy, and under the guidance of a complete knowledge of all that was going on all over the police area. Practically this scheme has broken down. In theory it looked very promising, but actual experience showed that it would not work. Criminal investigation could not be thus centralized, and to a very large extent detective work has got back to a divisional basis. One feature of the original arrangement has, however, remained. The local inspectors from all the divisions meet from time to time at Scotland yard for conference. The object of this is to promote harmonious working, and to afford to every inspector the means of making himself acquainted with all that is going on in the way of criminal enterprise all over the police district, and the doings of officers with whom he is assumed to be co-operating. Every morning at ten o'clock a "morning report" is sent in to Scotland yard by each divisional superintendent, stating the particulars of all crimes within his territory during the preceding twenty four hours. These reports - representing perhaps from sixty to a hundred crimes every morning - are laid before the Assistant Commissioner who has now taken control of the Criminal Department instead of the "Director." The Assistant Commissioner carefully scrutinises every item, and forthwith issues such instructions as may seem to be required for the investigation of any case, when necessary setting to work the divisional detectives. Usually of course this devolves upon the divisional superintendent or the local inspector. It can rarely happen that the Central Office can know more about a crime than the officers actually on the spot, and, as it has been said, the necessary work of criminal detection is practically divisional, and directed and supervised by the local inspector. The duties of the men in a general way lie within their own divisional boundaries, though in the pursuit of a criminal or in the investigation of a crime circumstances may take them beyond the limit.
The Scotland yard detectives are on a different footing. Originally they were all sergeants. Now there are none of them - except those in the Convict Office - below the rank of inspector. There are altogether about 80 of all ranks attached to Scotland yard. Under the old system, though they were nominally a part of the A Division, they had superintendent of their own, and were virtually a distinct body. Like all other plain clothes officers they are now under the immediate control of an Assistant Commissioner. They are no longer even nominally attached to the Whitehall Division, but constitute a division of their own - the "C.O." or Central Office division, and their work gives them an altogether exceptional position. In very rare and special cases, these men, by immediate order of the Home Secretary, lend their assistance to provincial police. An instance of this, which will be in the memory of most newspaper readers of the past few years, was presented in the notorious Road murder, when an old officer went down and, after minute inquiries, expressed his emphatic opinion that Constance Kent was the criminal, an opinion in which nobody at that time agreed, and which drew upon the veteran officer a good deal of opprobrium and ridicule. The confession of the girl, it will be remembered, afterwards completely established the shrewdness and accuracy of this conclusion. These occasions are, however, exceedingly rare. In a general way the functions of Scotland yard officers are confined to the metropolitan area, and the gentlemen in novels who are so frequently telegraphing from all sorts of out of the way corners of the earth for the assistance of a Scotland yard detective would in real life get for an answer - if they got answered at all - that all branches of the Metropolitan Police have quite enough of their own business to attend to without scouring the country in pursuit of other people's. The men are constantly engaged in the investigation of burglaries, embezzlements, frauds and forgeries, larcenies, murders, receiving stolen property, and all offences under the Coinage Act. In addition to these and a hundred other criminal matters of less frequent occurrence, they institute inquiries within their own territory respecting offences committed outside. They have all sorts of investigations to carry on for various Government Departments, as well as for foreign Governments and police, the correspondence in connection with which, it may be here noted in passing, used to be conducted by a staff of Civil Service clerks, but it is now a part of the work of Scotland yard, which answers every foreign latter in the language in which it is written. Among other duties the detectives of the "C.O. Division" inquire into all applications of foreigners for naturalisation, and they attend all sorts of popular gatherings, where of course a personal knowledge of the criminal fraternity is a matter of great importance. At one time it was the custom for one detective from Scotland yard and one from each of the divisions to go round twice a week in an omnibus to the metropolitan prisons for the purpose of scrutinising prisoners on remand or about to be released. Remand prisoners are still visited in this way, with a view of determining whether they are known to the known; but those who have undergone their punishment and are being discharged are no longer scrutinised by detectives.
It is a mistake to suppose, as many people do apparently, that detective officers spend their pleasant days in wandering to and fro in the earth, with plenty of money in their pockets, and nothing to do but go wherever their inclination leads them. At the commencement of each month every man is provided with a diary, in which he is required to keep day by day an account of all his movements - the investigations in which he has been engaged, the results of his efforts, the journeys he has made, the expense he has incurred, and so forth. The local inspector is also required to keep an independent record of the doings of his men. All these diaries used to be sent to headquarters for scrutiny; but, as may easily be imagined, nothing much came of that, and the practice has been discontinued. Indeed here, as in almost every other point at which efforts at centralisation were made when the system were reorganized, arrangements have broken down. It has been found by long experience that the only men who can possibly exercise effective control or give useful direction to plain clothes officers in the investigation of crime are those on the spot and working with them. The idea that on a special emergency the Home Secretary or Scotland yard can issue special instructions or set at work special agencies is mere folly. All that the very best management can do it to see to it that at all times the keenest, cleverest men are systematically drafted into this branch of the service, and when exceptionally difficult cases arise to concentrate the efforts of men picked from the whole force - the creme de la creme - and let them work pretty much in their own way. All the details of the everyday work of a London detective are, as much as possible, kept under close supervision; but it is quite obvious that these men must have greater freedom of action than ordinary policemen. They have also more interest and variety in their work and they have a much higher rate of pay - advantages, all of which they may lose if they show themselves on any important occasion conspicuously lacking in shrewdness or energy; while and exceptional success means credit and possible promotion and sometimes considerable reward. It is always easy to ridicule failure, but it is not easy to suggest the means that should be taken to ensure invariable success.
The man who was arrested at Holloway on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murder, and subsequently removed and detained at the Bow Asylum, will shortly be released. His brother has given satisfactory explanation as to his whereabouts on the morning of the murder. It has transpired that the authorities of the asylum would not allow the police to interrogate the patient whilst there, as it against the rules laid down by the Lunacy Commissioners.