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Why Didn’t The Police Catch Jack The Ripper?

The Jack the Ripper Murders took place in the East End of London in the autumn (fall) of 1888. It is not known for certain exactly how many victims Jack the Ripper had – the police file containing the Jack the Ripper murders encompasses 11 murders, some of which were definitely the work of Jack the Ripper, some of which may have been his work, and some of which were most certainly not the work of Jack the Ripper – however, there is a general consensus amongst experts on the case that the number of murders carried out by the killer who history remembers as Jack the Ripper was five.

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One of the most frequent questions I get asked on my Jack the Ripper Tour of London – apart from the obvious and frequent – “who do you think it was?” – is “why didn’t the police catch Jack the Ripper?”

The Victorian police’s efforts to catch the Whitechapel Murderer (the official name by which Jack the Ripper was known) have resulted in many writers depicting the detectives who hunted the unknown miscreant responsible for the ripper crimes as being a bungling bunch of amateurs Rajasthan Police Constable Result 2021. This is both untrue and unfair. Admittedly the Victorian detectives made mistakes but, on the whole, and given the limited resources available to them at the time, they did a reasonable job at conducting their investigation into the crimes that shook the world in the autumn of 1888.

The crimes took place in a very small section of London and all Jack the Ripper’s victims were prostitutes who sold their bodies to passing strangers on the streets of the East End of London in order to earn the pennies needed to provide them with the basics of food and accommodation. This is one of the reasons why the police found it so difficult to catch the ripper. In the majority of murder cases the victim is known to the murderer and there is a motive for the crime. So the police will look at anyone in the victim’s immediate circle had the motive and the opportunity to carry out the killings. The Victorian Police most certainly did this but, and this would be the case even today, since the ripper almost certainly didn’t know his victims, there was nothing to link him to them and thus the police attempts to trace him through this line of enquiry ultimately failed.

Another problem that the police faced was the fact that Jack the Ripper’s victims were all common street prostitutes. They didn’t have private rooms to take their clients to but rather worked the streets and took their clients to tucked away alleyways, hidden passageways and secluded squares. From personal experience these women knew the places to take their clients to where they were unlikely to be disturbed or interrupted. In other words it wasn’t Jack the Ripper who chose the sites at which he committed his murders, but rather it was his victim’s who, from their local knowledge, inadvertently led him to the perfect spot at which to commit a murder. As one police officer on the case told a journalist “’s not as if he has to wait for his chance, those women make that chance for him.”

The Victorian Police were also hampered by several basic lacks that we would take for granted in a murder investigation such as this today. DNA profiling, forensics, even fingerprinting were not available to them. Photography was available and was used in the case, albeit only to photograph the bodies in the mortuary for purposes of identification. Indeed, the body of only one of Jack the Ripper’s victims – Mary Kelly, murdered on 9th November 1888 – was actually photographed in situ at the scene of the crime Rajasthan Patwari Admit Card 2021.

Given their limited resources, the Victorian Police could only fall back on relying on eyewitness accounts (and it must be said that eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable), door to door enquiries in the hope that someone would give up the killer or, at least, provide information that might lead to his apprehension, and increasing the number of police officers in the district in the hope that when Jack the Ripper killed again their would be a police man close by to catch him. Unfortunately, the killer seems to have had either an amazing sixth sense that enabled him to evade the police, or else he was incredibly lucky in making his escapes from the scenes of his crimes. Thus, despite the fact that several of the murders took place almost under the noses of patrolling police constables, the killer wasn’t apprehended at Jack the Ripper got away.

Finally, the police investigation was hampered by the fact that the killer wasn’t leaving any clues behind that might have helped the police to discover his identity. Dr Robert Anderson – who at the time was the head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and as such was the highest ranking police official with direct responsibility for the case – made this point in an official report. “For one murder to take place where the killer leaves no clue behind is unusual,” he wrote, “but for a series of murders to take place where the killer leaves no clues behind is unheard of….” But this was exactly what was happening and so the Victorian Police had very little to go on and thus Jack the Ripper was able to evade capture and carry out his murderous spree on the streets of the East End of London.