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Eastern Argus & Borough of Hackney Times.
Saturday, 13 October 1888.

Police Work in Bethnal Green.

Now there is such a sensation in the East end, and more particularly in this parish, owing to the dastardly and most extraordinary series of murders committed, it may be interesting to give a resumé of the police work in this, the J Division of the Metropolitan Police. The number of the force stationed at Bethnal Green and controlled by Supt. Keating, is made up by 38 inspectors, 55 sergeants, and 515 constables; total, 609. The mileage area worked is 40.01, this being nearly the largest area in the metropolis. During the past year we note they report three deaths in streets by being run over, and no less than 171 cases where the persons have been maimed or injured. From the same source we find that in the Division there are 842 licensed houses, the majority being in Bethnal Green, and this includes 358 public houses, 60 beer houses with off licenses, 265 with on and off licenses, 8 refreshment houses with on wine licenses, 63 with off licenses, and 88 shops with off license for wines and spirits. The statistics of drunkenness are 186 males and 108 females, apprehended for drunkenness; 359 males and 169 females charged with being drunk and disorderly, making a total of 822 apprehensions for drunkenness. The coffee-stall returns show that 10 night coffee stalls are in the streets of this parish every night. In connection with the Jubilee Gifts at the Bethnal Green Museum, we see that 16 members of the force were specially employed, and two at the People's Palace. The following extracts from the report of the Commissioner of Police will doubtless be interesting: "Although the burglaries, house and shop breaking have not increased, yet I am happy to say that the number of persons arrested have in a large degree increased, there being 12 arrests for burglary and 23 for house-breaking, &c. The only serious case which occurred was on 21st December when Sergeant Adams, 34 J, endeavoured to arrest two men whom he found in an area with house-breaking implements at St. Peters Road, Mile End, and when he took hold of them one stabbed him in the neck and arms, and the other struck him on the head with an iron chisel, rendering him senseless, and both escaping. One of the miscreants was, however, cleverly traced and apprehended by the Officers of the Criminal Investigation Department of Bethnal Green Station and identified as a convict at large on license, and was sentenced to 15 years penal servitude at the Central Criminal Court on 31st inst. The injuries received by the Sergeant were, however, of such a serious nature that I am doubtful if he will ever be able to resume duty. I regret to say that no further progress has been made towards supplying the inhabitants of Hackney Wick and Victoria Park with the much-needed new police station, the delay, I believe, being caused by the difficulty in finding a suitable site. The residents feel the want very much, and say that they will not rest satisfied until they can point to the building as an accomplished fact. It was with pleasure I saw the Vestry of the parish of Bethnal Green had undertaken to make regulations for determining the hours in which coffee-stalls should be allowed to stand in the streets during the night, and I am sure it would give the greatest satisfaction to the police, as well as all lovers of order, if other Vestries would follow the example. Coffee stalls in the public streets before 8 a.m. are the rendezvous of all bad characters in the neighbourhood; directly the public houses close they flock to these places pretending to be there for the purpose of refreshing themselves, and the innocent wanderer who is unfortunate enough to stop is often either insulted, assaulted, or robbed. The police are rendered powerless, for although they know many of the habitues to be thieves and their object robbery, they cannot arrest them, for the defence, which would be a plausible one, viz., simply having a cup of coffee before going home, would be given credence to. My experience is that no coffee stall is wanted in the streets of London before 3 or 4 in the morning, for the simple reason that coffee houses are open till half-past 12 a.m., and cabdrivers and others employed all night can get what they want up to that hour, and can therefore suffer no injustice in waiting till 3 o'clock, the bona fide working men commencing work before these hours are few and far between. It has been said that this regulation will prevent honest persons getting a living, but in my opinion it will bar in a great measure dishonest persons from carrying on their nefarious practices, and clear the streets much sooner of disorderly characters. 851 doors and 391(?) windows have been found open by police in this division alone during the year. The conduct of the men has been good, and 40 have been commended and rewarded by Judges and Magistrates, and 112 by the Commissioner. This, I submit, is very creditable, being nearly one quarter of the strength of the division. The members of the Central Investigation Department [sic] have been most indefatigable in the pursuit of criminals, and although their number is small, have succeeded in arresting 274 persons. 991 new houses have been built in the division during the year, and 306 are now building, making an increase of 1,297 to be looked after by police. In conclusion, I can only reiterate my wish that during the present year it will be found convenient to grant a substantial augmentation, so that the present length of the beats may be reduced.

J. Keating,

Related pages:
  Bethnal Green
       Press Reports: Eastern Post and City Chronicle - 7 December 1889 
       Victorian London: Bethnal Green 
       Victorian London: Bethnal Green Road 
       Victorian London: Dwellings of the Poor in Bethnal Green 
       Victorian London: More Revelations of Bethnal Green 
  Metropolitan Police
       Police Officials: An Introduction to the Metropolitan Police 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 15 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 16 November 1888