Whitechapel – policing of Whitechapel – H Division

All areas of London were policed by the Metropolitan Police. The Metropolitan Police Force was divided in to 20 Divisions. Each Division was known by a letter of the alphabet. Whitechapel was known as H Division.

H Division

  • Whitechapel was the H-Division of the Metropolitan Police
  • It was run by a Superintendent, a Chief Inspector, 27 Inspectors, 37 Sergeants and about 500 Constables.
  • There were 15 CID detectives attached to Whitechapel H-Division
  • The forced policed 176,000 people.


Quick fire questions – answer without looking at the information you have just read

Click to reveal the answers:
1. What letter of the alphabet was Whitechapel Division?
2. How many CID detectives did Whitechapel have?
3. Which two positions only had one person working in them?
4. Which organisation led policing in London?

1. H
2. 15
3. Superintendent and Chief Inspector
4. Metropolitan



a) Using the sources of information below create / label a perfect Whitechapel recruit.

GCSE Style Question

Give two features of policing in Whitechapel between 1880 and 1890. [4 marks]

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Grade 9 – 7


a) Explain how the following would have impacted on policing

Crime: Around 75% of all recorded crime in nineteenth century London at this time was petty theft. Violent crimes made up about 10% of recorded crime; murder was relatively rare. Despite this people in London were more worried about gruesome crimes than about minor theft.

Prostitution was not illegal but it was still a major problem in London. With no contraception available, abortion was common. However, these back street abortions often led to death and the police did little to monitor it. By 1888, it is estimated that there was 1,200 prostitutes in London alone.

Alcohol and Drugs: For many people, drink was an escape. There were pubs and gin houses on every corner, in Whitechapel alone there was 45 pubs. There was also many Opium dens (a place to get drugs). Alcohol led to many drunken brawls and crimes.

Media: Most middle-class people living in the West End believed that by the mid nineteenth century there was a crime wave that needed to be stopped. This belief had been heightened by the press. Many cheap newspapers (‘Penny Dreadfuls’) were filled with detailed descriptions of ‘’orrible crimes’. People were particularly fascinated by murders and murderers. This popular interest in ghastly stories can sometimes be described as a ‘crime scare’ or even a ‘crime wave’.