East London Observer
Saturday, 24 November 1888.
The following speaks well - should I say ill? - for the morbid amusement which some folk find in viewing the site of a murder: and yet a caterer must find a good demand for such an exhibition, for I hear on good authority that Mr. McCarthy, the owner of the house in which Mary Kelly was killed, was offered £25 from a showman for the use of the room for a month! Another enterprising Barnum wished to buy, or even hire, the wretched furniture on which the dreadful crime was committed. To McCarthy's credit, both offers were rejected.
Why Mr. Montagu, M.P. Offered a Reward.
Speaking in Committee on Tuesday last week, Mr. Montagu referred to the organisation of the police in his constituency, and mentioned what passed between the police authorities and himself about a couple of months ago. On the 9th September, he read the accounts of the fourth or fifth terrible murder which had taken place in his constituency, and he thought the time had arrived when a reward should be offered for the discovery of the criminal. On Monday, the 10th of September, he came to town, saw the inspector of police at Leman-street station, and asked him whether the Government intended to offer a reward. The inspector replied that he did not know whether they did or not. He (Mr. Montagu) then said he believed the Home Secretary was absent from town at the time, and that some delay might arise in offering a reward. He, therefore, desired that the police should offer £100 reward at his own expense, but through the agency of the police. The inspector promised to submit his proposal to the Commissioners of Police, and asked him to put the offer down in writing. On the 17th September, he received a letter from Whitehall-place, stating that the Commissioners of Police had laid the offer before the Secretary of State, who did not consider that any reward should be offered in the case. On the 17th September, there having been some delay in his receiving a reply, he wrote to the Commissioner a letter, in which he said that the opinion of the Secretary of State that no reward should be offered for the discovery of the Whitechapel murderer was not in accord with the general feeling on the subject. He stated that the argument advanced by some that the possible increase in the amount of the reward might prevent prompt discovery, did not apply in this case, but nevertheless, had the decision of the Home Secretary been promptly obtained, he should not have interfered in the matter. He also stated in the letter that, under the circumstances, it was too late to withdraw his offer, and in case information was received which led to the conviction of the murderer, he must pay £100 to the person entitled to receive it, and that it remained for the police to decide whether notices of reward should be posted in Whitechapel by the police at his expense. He likewise stated in his communication that when he made his proposal he was not aware that the Government had ceased to offer rewards in cases of murder. He called the attention of the Committee to two points - first, that the Commissioner of Police did not, evidently, very much object to the reward being offered, otherwise he would have refused the offer at once, and so stopped his (Mr. Montagu's) action. Instead of doing that, however, he submitted the offer to the Home Secretary. The second point was that the police persistently refused to put up notices at his expense, although shortly before, in the case of a man who was shot, they did put up notices offering a reward of £100, which was privately offered. He still held the opinion that in such a case of horrible crimes committed, so far, with impunity, some divergence from the general rule in regard to rewards should be made. If a Government reward, accompanied by the qualifying pardon which had been published, had been promptly offered, there might have been some information received which would have led to the detection of the criminal. There was no doubt that this wild beast had a lair, and that someone must see him go to and from it. Since he had offered the reward his action had been justified by the offer of the City Corporation of a reward of £500, and also by the offer by two staunch supporters of the Home Secretary - gentlemen who represented the divisions of the Tower Hamlets - of rewards. That was his reply to the reflections cast upon him and others who had offered rewards, which were conveyed in the answer of the Home Secretary on the previous day. He had one word to say about the organization of the police in his district of Whitechapel. The residents of Whitechapel and Spitalfields felt that they had not sufficient police protection. They felt that in a district where poor people abounded in greater proportion, and in, perhaps, greater wretchedness, than elsewhere in England, adequate provision should be made for police protection there. They recognised the fact that the poverty in that district did result in vice and crime, and that although the police in Whitechapel were said to do their work very well, their number was certainly limited. He had the best authority for stating that trade, owing to the scare which the recent murders had caused, had been terribly depressed. In some cases the receipts of prominent tradesmen in Whitechapel did not now reach one half of the sum they reached at the same period last year, which was not a prosperous year. As a matter of fact, many people did not care to go now into the streets after dark. Some weeks ago he presented a petition to the Home Secretary, signed by the most respectable tradesmen of his constituency, asking for increased police protection for the district. He had received no definite reply as to what the Home Secretary intended to do; all he had received was a simple acknowledgement of the receipt of the petition. East London very rarely appealed for outside help, but when it was a case of life and death, and also of the success of the trade of the district, he trusted that the appeal made by his constituents would not be made in vain.