Whitechapel – National organisation of policing

There had been significant changes and government intervention in law enforcement during the 19th century. Read the timeline below to find out about them.

1829 Sir Robert Peel established a central police force for London, called the Metropolitan Police. It was paid for by local London authorities and controlled by the Home Secretary.

1842 A criminal detective branch of policing created.

1870 Edmund Henderson appointed Police Commissioner. He introduced new rules about the quality of recruits and raised standards of expected literacy.

1878 Criminal Investigation Division (CID) created. It was led by Howard Vincent.

1884 A special Irish Branch established to monitor Fenian’s actions in England.

1885 Irish Fenian terrorists set off bombs at the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London.

1886 Protests at Trafalgar Square led to the resignation of the Police Commissioner Henderson. During the protest local houses were damaged. Sir Charles Warren replaced him.

1887 Bloody Sunday.

1888 Warren resigned as Police Commissioner in November following Bloody Sunday. James Monro replaced him.

1889 First Police Code. Set out guideline for collecting evidence adn detecting criminals.

Home Secretary: a senior member of the government who is part of the cabinet. They are in charge of internal affairs of the country, this includes policing.

Fenian: An Irish group that wanted home rule for Ireland. This means Ireland to be controlled by Ireland.

Police Commissioner: Highest ranking police officer.


Answer the following questions on the organisation of the police.
First time you answer try not to refer to the timeline.

Click to reveal the answers.
1. Which year was the Metropolitan Police established?
2. How did the Fenians pose a risk in London?
3. Which Police Commissioner resigned in 1886?
4. Which Police Commissioner resigned following Bloody Sunday?
5. Who was the Police Commissioner during the Jack Ripper murders in 1888?
6. Which events would have led to a lose of public confidence in the police?
  1. 1829
  2. Set off bombs
  3. Henderson
  4. Warren
  5. Warren
  6. Failure to prevent Fenian bombings, Bloody Sunday, quick turnover of Police Commissioners.

Police Commissioners: A Closer look

Edmund Henderson,
Police Commissioner 1870 – 1886

Commissioner Edmund Henderson made several reforms that were seen as positive:
* Policemen allowed to vote in elections
* Charity for widows and orphans of police officers killed in service.
* Reduced military drills officers had to complete
* Allowed officers to grow breads.
* Increased literacy rates of officers
* Expanded the Detective Branch and created the CID.
* Established a register to record repeat offenders

Henderson was forced to resign in 1886 following a series of incidents:
* 1877 ‘Trial of the Detectives’. During the trial corruption within the Detective Branch was revealed. The detectives had accepted bribes in return for protecting a gang.
* 1880 during the trial of Thomas Titley the jury asked for his sentence to be reduced because of the actions of the police.
*1884 -1885 Irish Fenian terrorists exploded bombs in London.
* 1886 riot in Trafalgar Square.

Sir Charles Warren.
Police Commissioner 1886 – 1888

Warren also made reforms to policing:

* Tried to raise standards
* Increased military drill practice
* Improved recruitment rules

Warren’s actions led to concerns that he was not capable of the role and changing the focus of the police to make it more military based:

* Warren became Police Commissioner in 1888 and shortly afterwards the Home Secretary changed. The new Home Secretary Henry Matthews did not like Warren.
* Henry Matthews told people he would prefer Warren’s deputy, James Monro, to be the Police Commissioner.
* Monro undermined Warren by complaining that Warren did not support the CID with enough money or men.
* Warren was a difficult man to work for, did not like to ask or take advice.
* Increased military drill practice and discipline
* Used force during riots in Trafalgar Square
* Failure to catch Jack the Ripper
* November 1888 wrote wrote an article criticising the government – he was forced to resign following it.

James Munro
Police Commissioner 1888 – 1890

* Monro was extremely popular within the force, and his appointment was welcomed.

Monro also faced problems:
* He complained that he had a shortage of men and the uniform was not of a standard needed.
* Monro immediately clashed with the Home Office over his deputy’s replacement.
* Monro supported police officers complainants about pay which angered the Home Secretary.
* Monro was a difficult man to work for, did not like to ask or take advice.
* He was to be the shortest-serving Commissioner in the Metropolitan’s history.


6. How did each Commissioner’s actions cause problems for the reputation of the police?
Include specific examples for each individual.
7. Which individual caused the greatest harm to the Metropolitan’s Police reputation? How?

Well done, you have completed today’s learning

Want to learn more?
Grade 9 – 7

Investigate Police Commissioners Henderson and Warren in more detail and answer the following question:
Was there are crisis at the most senior levels of policing between 1870 and 1890?

Research the events of Bloody Sunday in 1887.