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The Secrets of the Special Reports

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  • The Secrets of the Special Reports

    Part 1 - Spratling's Report

    I didnít want to disrupt the Lechmere thread more than it already has been so I thought I would start a new one (and I hope this is the most appropriate place). Further to the discussion in that thread about Inspector Spratlingís report dated 31.08.88, I have taken a look at the microfilmed copy of the original at the National Archives (MEPO 3/140) and have noticed a few small things which I thought I would report to the board.

    There is a date-stamp on the cover of Spratling's report (f 241), the contents of which are too faint from the microfilm copy to be able to see in full but the word "AUG" is clearly visible so it must be date-stamped "31 AUG 1888". Interestingly, and unusually, there also appears to be a time of receipt written in manuscript within the stamp but it is a little hard to decipher. My best attempt is that it reads 11.50pm (however it initially looked to me like it read 17.50pm which canít be right so there is a small chance that it says 12.50pm).

    This date-stamp has a very different shape to the normal C.I.D. received stamp. At the bottom, one can just make out the letters "EX" so I deduce from this (and from the fact that, at the top of page it says the report was "submitted through Executive"), that the stamp bears the word "EXECUTIVE". It would appear, therefore, that the report was stamped as received by the Executive Branch at Central Office on 31 August 1888 (and possibly the time of receipt noted too, perhaps because it arrived so late).

    So I think what has happened is that Superintendent Keating has forwarded the report to the Executive Branch which would normally have meant that it went to Superintendent Cutbush (whose name and comments appear on the Martha Tabram reports) but he was apparently on leave of absence at the time. There are initials on the cover which I cannot entirely decipher (but quite possibly they are the initials of Inspector William Davis) followed by the words "for Supt" so this individual was evidently covering at CO for Cutbush on 31 August. Below this, two different individuals have written "To AC (CID)/" and "To Col Pearson for information" respectively. There then appears to be a signature beneath this which has been cut off on the microfilm copy. So an individual at the Executive appears to have forwarded the report to the ACC.

    The fact that Supt Keating forwarded the report to the superintendent at the Executive (or more correctly his stand in) rather than the ACC, is consistent with P.O. of 9 February 1888 (referred to on the cover) - MEPO 7/50 - which states that in all cases of serious crime:

    "A special report, containing the fullest obtainable information and the steps taken by Police, with the names of officers engaged in the inquiry, is to be sent to the Executive Branch immediately on the occurrence of a Crime of such importance as to require the submission of special reports".

    I assume that the superintendent at Executive would have decided whether such report would be forwarded to ACC. However, it is interesting to note that this rather cumbersome procedure appears to have been changed soon afterwards. The General Orders of 1893 (MEPO 8/4) state that:

    "A special report, containing the fullest available information and the steps taken by Police, with the names of officers engaged in the inquiry, is to be sent to Assistant Commissioner, C.I. Department, immediately on the occurrence of a Crime of such importance as to require the submission of special reports".

    So the Executive Branch has been removed from the picture here and reports were now to be submitted direct to the ACC. This could have happened any time between 1888 and 1893 (which can no doubt be established from the Police Orders). For me, it explains why a different procedure was followed in later cases.

    I hope this is found to be helpful. In respect of my interpretation of the annotations written on the cover of Spratling's report please bear in mind that I have not seen the original and was doing my best from a microfilm copy.

  • #2
    Secrets of the Special Reports

    Part 3 Ė A missing report?

    No, the title of this post is not an error. It is a deliberate mistake! You will see why I have done it.

    In MEPO 3/140 we have the first special report dated 31.08.08 (by Inspector Spratling) then we have the "third" special report dated 07.09.88 by (Inspector Helson). So where is the second special report?

    One would naturally have assumed that the report dated 7 Sept was the second special report.

    P.O. of 9 Feb 1888 (MEPO 7/50) states that after submission of the initial special report:

    "A further report of the progress of the inquiry is to be sent in at not longer intervals than a week".

    So a second report being submitted a week after the first makes perfect sense. And, on the face of it, there is nothing amiss. When the first special report was submitted, the police had not identified the dead woman but they did so the following morning. The report of 7 Sept states that the body has been identified as Mary Ann Nichols. This would naturally lead us to assume that there were only two reports as of 7 Sept. But if there was an unknown "second" report, why was this information not included in it?

    That the two reports in the MEPO file are stated on their face to be the first and third reports is unquestionable. The cover of the first (f 241) says it is "No. 327" and states "1st Special Report" while the cover of the second (f 238) says it is "No. 327/3" and "3rd Special Report". But there is no second report on the microfilmed file.

    So what has happened here?

    One possibility is a police error. Can it be that simple? Can the second report really have been believed to have been the third? I wouldnít want to rule it out but itís a little hard to believe.

    Another possibility is that there was a second report which has been lost or destroyed. Could it have contained information embarrassing to the police? Was it related to the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the body and Mizenís encounter with Cross and Mizen? If so, was it submitted before the police knew the identity of the dead woman (i.e. very early on 1 September), thus explaining why they did not include this information, or was it written when they knew it was Mary Nichols but they just wanted to focus on a discrete point in the second report and left the question of identity to the third report?

    Another possibility Ė which can be ruled out if any researchers have inspected the original file Ė is that there was an administrative error made when the file was microfilmed so that the second report exists but was not filmed. This is not quite such an outlandish thought because the file is particularly disorganised at this point. There are two copies of page/folio 238 and the page/folio between 237 and 238 is unnumbered. The possibility of a "missing" report sitting undiscovered in the MEPO file is intriguing but, one assumes, unlikely.

    None of the above explanations seem to be entirely satisfactory but I canít think of any others so one of them surely must be right. Perhaps I have overlooked something very obvious?

    Comment


    • #3
      pilfered

      Hello David. Thanks for posting that.

      Could the file have been pilfered? Seems many were.

      Cheers.
      LC

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lynn cates View Post
        Hello David. Thanks for posting that.

        Could the file have been pilfered? Seems many were.
        Hi Lynn - I guess so, but I wonder what would have been so special about the second report that the thief would have taken it but left the first and third untouched??!

        Comment


        • #5
          Again....in the book David ;-)

          Monty
          Monty

          https://forum.casebook.org/core/imag...t/evilgrin.gif

          Author of Capturing Jack the Ripper.

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1445621622

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Monty View Post
            Again....in the book David ;-)

            Monty
            Can you give me a page reference Monty? I am towards the end of the book and am not sure what you mean. You certainly do mention that the special reports were submitted to the Executive if that's what you are referring to.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
              Can you give me a page reference Monty? I am towards the end of the book and am not sure what you mean. You certainly do mention that the special reports were submitted to the Executive if that's what you are referring to.
              He means "naming the jack ripper". Everyone you need to know you can find in there.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RockySullivan View Post
                He means "naming the jack ripper". Everyone you need to know you can find in there.
                I assume you are making a little joke. But I'm serious, I don't know what he means.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                  I assume you are making a little joke. But I'm serious, I don't know what he means.
                  Lol sorry this forum is full of advertisements. In nearly every other post you will find "and the damning evidence will be revealed on my new book!". Monty' doesn't do thatn but maybe he'll give u a page number

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RockySullivan View Post
                    Lol sorry this forum is full of advertisements. In nearly every other post you will find "and the damning evidence will be revealed on my new book!". Monty' doesn't do thatn but maybe he'll give u a page number
                    In fairness to him, his book is excellent on police procedure but at the same time, in fairness to me, I don't think it does contain most of the matters I have raised in this thread.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I thought the "smiling winking face' made it clear I was teasing.

                      Spratling compiles the first special report, outlining the known facts as on the 31st. Local Inspector Helson compiles the second special report outlining CID investigations and acting Supt Davies compiles the third special report outlines the suspect situation at the time, specifically Pizer. These latter reports are dated the 7th.

                      Davis, covering Arnold, report was the only H division report amongst the three, this due to the fact H, and specifically Thick, were given the task of running Pizer to group, most likely due to the fact Thick stated he knew him as Leather Apron.

                      Monty
                      Monty

                      https://forum.casebook.org/core/imag...t/evilgrin.gif

                      Author of Capturing Jack the Ripper.

                      http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1445621622

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        thieves

                        Hello David. thanks.

                        Well, sometimes a thief will bypass one item for another.

                        Cheers.
                        LC

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Monty View Post
                          I thought the "smiling winking face' made it clear I was teasing.

                          Spratling compiles the first special report, outlining the known facts as on the 31st. Local Inspector Helson compiles the second special report outlining CID investigations and acting Supt Davies compiles the third special report outlines the suspect situation at the time, specifically Pizer. These latter reports are dated the 7th.

                          Davis, covering Arnold, report was the only H division report amongst the three, this due to the fact H, and specifically Thick, were given the task of running Pizer to group, most likely due to the fact Thick stated he knew him as Leather Apron.
                          Apologies Monty, the humour was a little too sophisticated for me!

                          But I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that I don't think your analysis is correct. Are you relying on the Ultimate JTR Sourcebook? If so, then I can understand the confusion. If, however, you are basing what you say on a viewing of the MEPO file then fine but I still don't agree with you.

                          What you call the report of acting Supt Davis is not his report at all. It is the cover sheet of Inspector Helson's report. I believe that Inspector William Davis was of A Division and based at Central Office in the Executive Branch. It was to him that Helson's report was being submitted in the absence of Superintendent Cutbush, on leave. What you are referring to as Davis's report is no more than his summary (for the AC) of what Helson has told him in his report. You will note that Helson includes reference to Pizer as Leather Apron in his report.

                          In short, the file contains only one report dated 7 Sept 1888 which is labelled on the cover as the "3rd report".

                          Evidently my post was not very clear on the point but that was basically what I was trying to explain from my reading of the MEPO file.
                          Last edited by David Orsam; 12-07-2014, 11:07 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I was actually going on my notes David, made a little while back.

                            I've re-read your posts and now 'get' what you are trying to say. The February 9th PO was, I suspect, laid down due incorrect, or rather poor, referencing, which looked to me, when I conducted my research, to have continued in the Nichols case.

                            I must confess, that was an assumption on my part. However, as I say, I see what you mean now. When I get the chance, I shall review my notes again.

                            Cheers
                            Monty
                            Monty

                            https://forum.casebook.org/core/imag...t/evilgrin.gif

                            Author of Capturing Jack the Ripper.

                            http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1445621622

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                              [B] Interestingly, and unusually, there also appears to be a time of receipt written in manuscript within the stamp but it is a little hard to decipher. My best attempt is that it reads 11.50pm (however it initially looked to me like it read 17.50pm which canít be right so there is a small chance that it says 12.50pm).
                              I have been looking at this again and I now think it is most likely to be 12:50pm. Having said this, if Spratling was searching for a weapon (and bloodstains) around Buck's Row between 11am and 12pm on that day, as he says he was, then it was quite an achievement for him to complete his report (which includes details of this search), have it approved by his superintendent and then get it to Whitehall by ten minutes to one.

                              Comment

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