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Title: Scotland Yard - The methods and organisation of the Metropolitan Police
Author: Dilnot, George
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SCOTLAND YARD.


_Copyright in the United States of America, 1915._



SCOTLAND YARD

THE METHODS AND ORGANISATION OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE.

BY

GEORGE DILNOT.

[Illustration: Logo]

LONDON:
PERCIVAL MARSHALL & CO.,
66, FARRINGDON STREET, E.C.



CONTENTS.

                                PAGE
CHAPTER I.

THE SILENT MACHINE                 9

CHAPTER II.

MATTERS OF ORGANISATION           16

CHAPTER III.

THE REAL DETECTIVE                22

CHAPTER IV.

ON THE TRAIL                      32

CHAPTER V.

MAKING A DETECTIVE                41

CHAPTER VI.

MORE ABOUT INVESTIGATION          48

CHAPTER VII.

THE "CROOKS'" CLEARING-HOUSE      54

CHAPTER VIII.

FINGER-PRINTS                     65

CHAPTER IX.

THE SCHOOL OF POLICE              76

CHAPTER X.

IN A POLICE STATION               87

CHAPTER XI.

THE RIDDLE DEPARTMENT             98

CHAPTER XII.

THE SAILOR POLICE                109

CHAPTER XIII.

THE BLACK MUSEUM                 118

CHAPTER XIV.

PUBLIC CARRIAGES                 123

CHAPTER XV.

LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED         132



PREFACE.


TO ROBERT.

MY DEAR ROBERT,

It is more than probable that since this book was written you have
changed your uniform and your beat. You are in the North Sea, in
Flanders, in Gallipoli. Nowhere can admiral or general wish a better
man.

I have known you long. I have for many years been thrown among you in
all circumstances, and at all times. I have known you trudging your
beat, have known you more especially as a detective, have known you in
high administrative and executive positions. I have seen you arrest
armed murderers, have seen you tactfully reproving a drunkard, have seen
you solving tangled problems of crime, have seen you charging a mob,
have seen you playing with a lost baby. I do not think there is any
phase of your work which I have not seen. And I want the public to know
you.

You, whether you be Commissioner or constable, occupy a position of
delicate and peculiar responsibility. You are poised between the trust
and suspicion of those you serve, and you are never quite sure whether
you will be blessed or blamed. I, who realise something of your
temptations and your qualities, know how seldom you fail in an
emergency, how rarely you abuse your powers.

You will forgive me when I say you are not perfect. You have your little
failings, and at times the defect of one man recoils on 20,000. There
are matters I should like to see changed. But, on the whole, you are
admittedly still the best policeman in the world.

The war has claimed you and others of your profession. Astute commanding
officers have recognised you as "men who are handled and made," and many
a constable of a year ago now wears an officer's stars. There are those
of you who have gained other distinctions.

There is no branch of the service here dealt with that has not sent of
its best to the fighting line. None will recognise more willingly than
you in the trenches that the luck has been yours. We know (you and I)
that others have been, by no will of their own, left behind. It is to
these, in no small degree, that the safety and equanimity of London have
been due. And it is as well that here tribute should be paid to those
who have endured without retort the sneers of the malicious and
ill-informed as well as the multiplicity of extra duties the war has
entailed upon them.

One advantage, at least, the war has conferred on you. It has exploded
the ignorance of your profession to those thousands of citizens who have
elected to share something of your responsibilities. They at least know
something of your work; they at least know that the special constable
can never replace, though he may assist, the experienced police-officer.
You always understood the Londoner; now the Londoner is coming to
understand you.

I have attempted no more than a sketch of the great machine of which you
form part. But if it enlightens the public in some degree as to the way
they are served by you it will have achieved its purpose.

Yours sincerely,

GEORGE DILNOT.

London,
October, 1915.



SCOTLAND YARD.

By GEORGE DILNOT.

     "By all means let us abuse the police, but let us see what the poor
     wretches have to do."--KIPLING.



CHAPTER I.

THE SILENT MACHINE.


We who live in London are rather apt to take our police for granted.
Occasionally, in a mood of complacency, we boast of the finest police
force in the world; at other times, we hint darkly at corruption and
brutality among a gang of men too clever, too unscrupulous to be found
out. We associate Scotland Yard with detectives--miraculous creations of
imaginative writers--forgetting that the Criminal Investigation
Department is but one branch in a wondrously complex organisation. Of
that organisation itself, we know little. And in spite of--or perhaps
because of--the mass of writing that has made its name familiar all over
the world, there exists but the haziest notion as to how it performs its
functions.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this ignorance is that Scotland Yard
never defends itself, never explains, never extenuates. Praise or blame
it accepts in equal silence. It goes on its way, ignoring everything
that does not concern it, acting swiftly, impartially, caring nothing
save for duty to be done.

There is romance in Scotland Yard--a romance that has never been
written, that may never be written. It concerns the building up, in the
face of incredible obstacles, of a vast, ingenious machine which has
become one of the greatest instruments of civilisation the world has
ever seen.

Imagine an army of 20,000 men encamped over seven hundred square miles,
with its outposts in every quarter of the globe--an army engaged in
never-ceasing warfare with the guerillas of crime and disorder. Imagine
something of the work it does.

In a city of seven million souls, crammed with incalculable wealth,
there are less than a thousand habitual thieves--the exact number is
706--and 161 receivers of stolen goods. In spite of all its temptations,
there are but seventeen thousand serious crimes in a year, while the
number of more trivial offences is only one hundred and seventy
thousand. Few of the perpetrators escape justice. Compare this record
with that of any city in the world. Ask Paris, ask New York, ask
Petrograd, and you will begin to realise how well protected London is.

In a large soft-carpeted room, its big double windows open to catch the
breezes that blow from the river, sits the man upon whom the ultimate
responsibility for all this devolves, a slim-built, erect man of sixty
odd, with moustache once auburn but now grey, grey hair and shrewd hazel
eyes--Sir Edward Henry.

Imperturbable, quiet-voiced, quiet-mannered, he sits planning the peace
of London. He is playing a perpetual game of chess on the great board of
the metropolis with twenty thousand men as his pieces against a
cosmopolitan fraternity of evil-doers who never rest. He is the one man
in the service who must never make a mistake.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police sleeps on no bed of roses.
He must be as supple as willow, as rigid as steel, must possess the tact
of a diplomatist, with the impartiality of a judge.

Since the days when Sir Richard Mayne built up the police organisation
in its infancy, there has been no Commissioner who so nearly fulfils the
ideal of a great police administrator as Sir Edward Henry. Unlike most
of his predecessors, practically his whole life has been spent in the
study of police science.

It is something more than forty years ago since he entered the Indian
Civil Service as assistant magistrate collector. He became ultimately
Inspector-General of the Bengal Police, and then commissioner of a
division.

It was there that he first established the finger-print system of
identification, as a police device for the registration of habitual
criminals which he was to introduce later at Scotland Yard, and which
has tightened the meshes round many a criminal who would otherwise have
escaped justice.

The man in the street knows little of the silent man who is undoubtedly
the greatest police organiser in the world. Even on this very matter of
finger-prints there is a general confusion with Bertillonage--a totally
different thing. The Henry system has practically ousted Bertillonage in
every civilised country. If Sir Edward had done nothing but that he
would have ranked as one of the greatest reformers in criminal
detection. But he has done more--much more.

Fourteen years ago he resigned his Indian post to become
Assistant-Commissioner in charge of the Criminal Investigation
Department. Even then the intention was to "try" him for Commissioner.
He spent a period in South Africa during the war reorganising the civil
police of Johannesburg and Pretoria. In 1903, when Sir Edward Bradford
retired, he was appointed Commissioner.

He found that the vast complex machinery of which he assumed control was
running a little less freely than it should. The police force was like
an old established business--still sound, but inclined to work in a
groove. It needed a chief with courage, individuality, ideas,
initiative, and the organising powers of a Kitchener. These qualities
were almost at once revealed in Sir Edward Henry.

In the force it was soon felt that a new power had arisen. The
Commissioner was not only a name but an actuality. Nothing was so
trivial as to escape his attention; nothing too wide for him to grasp.
He knew his men--it is said that he knows every man in the force, an
exaggeration with a great deal of truth in it--and they soon knew him.

Quick to observe, quick to commend or punish, whether it be high
official or ordinary constable, he has come to be regarded with
unswerving devotion by those under him. The police force as he took it
over and as it is now may seem the same thing to the ordinary observer.
To those who knew something of its working it is a vastly different
thing.

I have passed many years among police officers of all grades and all
departments. Many of these have been veterans of from twenty to thirty
years' service. They have told me of things done for the well-being of
the force, the convenience of the public, and the confusion of the
criminal.

Telephone and telegraphic communication have been perfected between
stations, head-quarters and provincial police, the system of
identification has been revised, young constables are taught their trade
with care and thoroughness, higher pay has been granted to all ranks,
men are housed in greater comfort, red tape has been ruthlessly cut
through, the relations between police and Press have been improved;
there is a wider, broader spirit in all. A clean esprit de corps, very
different to that which at times long gone by has threatened the
interests of the public, has sprung up.

In all these things is to be seen the hand of Sir Edward Henry. Scotland
Yard is not yet perfect; there still linger relics of the old
conservative spirit in certain directions; but the new method has made
itself felt. Initiative is encouraged in all ranks. Suggestions and
criticism from without are welcomed.

The Commissioner is a man of instant decision. Let anyone make a
suggestion, and he ponders it for a second or so. Then he reaches for a
pen. "Yes, that's a good idea. We'll have an order on that." And in a
little the suggestion has become an official fact.

Little escapes his eye, but he is a man who makes sure. Every morning a
bundle of newspapers and periodicals is delivered at Scotland Yard to be
carefully scrutinised and to have every reference to the force marked
with blue pencil. Where there is an accusation against a particular man,
or a criticism of methods in general, special attention is directed to
it. But there is rarely any need for this. The Commissioner has probably
read it at breakfast. The point, whatever it is, is usually in a fair
way to being dealt with before lunch.

From the moment a constable has been sworn in he is watched and selected
for the post that best suits him. A man may do well in a semi-rural
district who would be a failure in Commercial Road, E. He may be
selected for office work, regulation of traffic, for the Criminal
Investigation Department, for the Thames Division, or for routine duty
in the street. Wherever he is he is the best man who can be found for
the work, and so from top to bottom of the ladder of promotion.

Many romances have been written of Scotland Yard, but imagination has
supplied the place of facts, for the tongues of those who have taken
part in dramatic episodes, more stirring than any in fiction, are
locked.

Yet, in spite of all its cold, business-like atmosphere, the story of
the Metropolitan Police is in itself a vivid romance which only a
Kipling could write as it should be written. Imagine the Commissioner,
whose power is almost autocratic, weaving a net that is spread broadcast
to catch within its meshes any person who breaks the King's peace or the
King's laws.

And, although now and again the personal factor is discernible in some
piece of work, it is mainly cold, precise, business-like organisation
which holds the net so close. Telephones, telegraphs, and motor cars
link the police stations of London closely--so closely that within less
than half an hour 20,000 men can be informed of the particulars of a
crime.

As an instance of organisation, it may be interesting to recall that
during the Coronation procession, when close on 600 detectives were on
duty mingling with the crowds, it was possible for Mr. Frank Froest, the
then Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department, in his
office, to get a message to or from any one of them within ten minutes.
A large proportion of the whole body could have been concentrated on one
spot within twenty minutes.

It is organisation that makes Scotland Yard able to carry out its myriad
duties, from testing motor omnibuses to plucking a murderer from his
hiding place at the ends of the earth, from guarding the persons of
Emperors and Kings to preventing a Whitechapel bully from knocking his
wife about. The work must go on smoothly, silently, every department
harmonising, every man working in one common effort.

The administrative and financial sides of the police are divided, the
former being under the Commissioner, the latter under the Receiver, Mr.
G. H. Tripp. The maintenance of the Metropolitan Police is naturally
expensive, the average cost of each constable annually being £102. The
gross expenditure during 1913-14 was £2,830,796; of this, £886,307 was
received from the Exchequer, £244,383 was from sums paid for the
services of constables lent to other districts, £1,512,072 from London
ratepayers, and the remainder from various sources.



CHAPTER II.

MATTERS OF ORGANISATION.


The great deterrent against crime is not vindictive punishment; the more
certain you make detection, the less severe your punishment may be. The
brilliant sleuth-hound work of which we read so often is a less
important factor in police work than organisation. Organisation it is
which holds the peace of London. It is organisation that plucks the
murderer from his fancied security at the ends of the earth, that
prevents the drunkard from making himself a nuisance to the public, that
prevents the defective motor-bus from becoming a danger or an annoyance
to the community.

Inside the building of red brick and grey stone that faces the river,
and a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament, there are men who sit
planning, planning, planning. The problems of the peace of London change
from day to day, from hour to hour, almost from minute to minute. Every
emergency must be met, instantly, as it arises--often by diplomacy,
sometimes by force. A hundred men must be thrown here, a thousand there,
and trained detectives picked for special work. With swift, smooth
precision, the well-oiled machinery works, and we, who only see the
results, never guess at the disaster that might have befallen if a
sudden strain had thrown things out of gear.

In the tangle of departments and sub-departments, bewildering to the
casual observer, there is an elastic order which welds the whole
together. Not a man but knows his work. The top-notch of efficiency is
good enough for Scotland Yard. Its men are engaged in business pure and
simple, not in making shrewd detective deductions. The lime-light which
occasionally bursts upon them distorts their ways and their duties.
Really, they have little love for the dramatic. Newspaper notoriety is
not sought, and men cannot "work the Press," as in times gone by, to
attain a fictitious reputation.

It is through well-chosen lieutenants that Sir Edward Henry works. There
are four Assistant-Commissioners upon each of whom special work
devolves. Sir Frederick Wodehouse, for instance, is the "Administrative
Assistant-Commissioner." He deals with all matters relating to
discipline, promotion, and routine so far as the uniformed force is
concerned.

The Criminal Investigation Department is under Mr. Basil Thompson, a
comparatively young man who came from the Prison Commission to succeed
Sir Melville Macnaghten, and who has successfully experimented with some
new ideas to make the path of the criminal more difficult. Mr. Frank
Elliott, who was formerly at the Home Office, holds sway over the Public
Carriage Office; and the Hon. F. T. Bigham, a barrister--and a son of
Lord Mersey, who gained his experience as a Chief Constable of the
Criminal Investigation Department--deals with and investigates the
innumerable complaints and enquiries that would occur even in a police
force manned by archangels. Mr. Bigham is also the Central Authority
under the terms of the international agreement for the suppression of
the white slave traffic.

There are six Chief Constables, mostly ex-military officers. One of
these assists in the administration of the Criminal Investigation
Department, the remainder control districts of four or five adjoining
divisions. To adopt a military simile, they may be compared to
major-generals in command of brigades, with each division representing a
battalion, and the superintendents, colonels.

Only once in the whole history of the Metropolitan Police has a man
risen from the ranks to the post of Chief Constable, though many, like
Mr. Gentle at Brighton, and Mr. Williams at Cardiff, have become the
heads of important provincial forces. The post of superintendent in
London is at least equivalent in its responsibilities to the average
chief-constableship of the provinces. There are metropolitan section
sergeants who have as many men under their control as some chief
constables of small boroughs.

The unit of the Metropolitan Police is a division which averages about a
thousand men. Each is under a superintendent, with a chief-inspector as
second in command. Thereafter the ranks run:


         UNIFORM BRANCH.              DETECTIVE BRANCH.

                                { Divisional Detective-Inspectors.
     Sub-divisional Inspectors  { Central Detective-Inspectors.

     Inspectors                   Detective-Inspectors

     Station-Sergeants            First Class Detective Sergeants.

     Section-Sergeants            Second Class Detective-Sergeants

     Constables (reserve)         Third Class Detective-Sergeants

     Constables (according to      Detective-Patrols
     seniority)


These are distributed among close on two hundred police stations in the
metropolis, and in twenty-two divisions. Some are detailed for the
special work with which London as London has nothing to do. Thus there
are: the King's Household Police; divisions guarding the dockyards and
military stations at Woolwich, Portsmouth, Devonport, Chatham, and
Pembroke; detachments on special duty at the Admiralty and War Office
and the Houses of Parliament and Government Departments; and men
specially employed, as at the Royal Academy, the Army and Navy Stores,
and so on. In all, there are 1,932 men so engaged.[1] Their services are
charged for by the Receiver, and the cost does not fall upon the
ratepayers.

Scotland Yard is run on the lines of a big business. To the intimate
observer it is strangely similar in many of its aspects to a great
newspaper office, with its diverse and highly specialised duties all
tending to one common end. The headquarters staff is a big one. There
are superintendents in charge of the departments, men whom no emergency
can ruffle--calm, methodical and alert, ready to act in the time one can
make a telephone call.

There are McCarthy, of the Central Criminal Investigation Department;
Quinn, of the Special Branch which concerns itself with political
offences and the care of Royalty; Bassom, of the Public Carriage
Department; Gooding, of the Peel House Training School; West and White,
of the Executive and Statistical Departments.

Nothing but fine, careful organisation could weld together these
multitudinous departments with their myriad duties. It is an
organisation more difficult to handle than that of any army in the
field. The public takes it all for granted until something goes wrong,
some weak link in the chain fails. Then there is trouble.

The Metropolitan Police is the only force in England which is
independent of local control. The Commissioner--often wrongly described
as the Chief Commissioner--is appointed by the Crown on the
recommendation of the Home Secretary, and has wide, almost autocratic
powers. It is an Imperial force which has duties apart from the care of
London. It has divisions at the great dockyards; it is the adviser and
helper of multifarious smaller zones in case of difficulty. It has
charge of the river from Dartford Creek to Teddington, and its confines
extend far beyond the boundaries of the London County Council.

In one year its printing and stationery bill alone amounts to over
£10,000; its postage, telegrams, and telephone charges to another
£13,000. Its gross cost is nearly three millions a year. That is the
insurance paid for the keeping of the peace. What do we get for it?

We have taught the world that a body of police can be none the less
efficient although their hands are clean; that honesty is not
necessarily a synonym for stupidity; that law and order can be enforced
without brutality. There are no _agents provocateur_ in the London
police, and the grafter has little opportunity to exercise his talent.

In one year 17,910 indictable offences were committed within the
boundaries of the Metropolitan Police district. For these 14,525 people
were proceeded against, and as some of them were probably responsible
for two or more of the offences the margin of those who escaped is very
low. There were 178,495 minor offenders, all of whom were dealt with.

The machinery of Scotland Yard misses little. How many crimes have been
prevented by the knowledge of swift and almost inevitable punishment it
is impossible to say, but they have been many.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] This was before the War.



CHAPTER III.

THE REAL DETECTIVE.


Through a little back door, up a stone flight of stairs, into a broad
corridor one passes to the offices where are quartered the heads of the
most important branch of Scotland Yard--the Criminal Investigation
Department, with its wide-reaching organisation stretching beyond the
confines of London over the whole world.

It is its business to keep its fingers on the pulse of crime, to watch
vigilantly the comings and goings of thousands of men and women, and to
bring to justice all those whose acts have made them a menace to
society.

No department of Scotland Yard has been more written around; none has
been more misunderstood. It does its duty effectually, unswervingly, in
the same unemotional spirit that marks the other departments of the
service, but with perhaps even a keener eye to its own reputation. The
C.I.D. knows how high is the reputation it has won among international
police forces, and is very properly jealous of its maintenance.

There have been critics of the C.I.D. Many have held that the system of
recruiting from the uniformed police is wrong in essence--that educated
men employed direct from civilian life would be more effective. There is
no bar against anyone being appointed direct if the authorities
chose--but it has been tried.

Once upon a time--this was a long while ago--an ardent reformer held
the reins of the detective force. He made many valuable changes, and
some less valuable--among the latter the experiment of "gentlemen" as
detectives. There were six of them, and the full story of these
kid-glove amateurs would be interesting reading. They were, in the
euphemistic words of the reformer himself, "eminently unsatisfactory."
"There is," he added, "little doubt that the gentlemen who have failed
in one of the professions which they usually adopt are less trustworthy,
less reliable, and more difficult to control than those who enter a
calling such as the police in the ordinary course."[2] So the only
approach to Sherlock Holmes that Scotland Yard has ever seen was killed
for good and all, though there is still no legal bar to anyone being
appointed directly a detective.

Six hundred and fifty picked officers, all of whom have worn the blue
uniform and patrolled the streets at the regulation pace, form a mobile
army scattered over the metropolis.

Quiet and unobtrusive men for the most part, dogged, tactful, and
resourceful, they must always be ready to act at a moment's notice as
individuals or as part of a machine. For it is the machinery of Scotland
Yard that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred calls check to the
criminal's move. It is long odds on law and order every time.

The administrative work of the department is carried out by the
Assistant-Commissioner and the Chief Constable. It is on the shoulders
of two superintendents--curiously enough, both Irishmen--at the head of
the two main branches of the department that the executive work chiefly
devolves.

Superintendent John McCarthy--who for several years has held the reins
of the Central C.I.D., to which the main body of detectives are
attached--is a blue-eyed, soft-voiced man who governs with no less tact
and firmness than his predecessor, the famous Frank Froest. In a service
extending for more than thirty years he has accumulated an unequalled
experience of all classes of crime and criminals, and has travelled
widely in many countries on dangerous and difficult missions. Tall and
neat, he gives an impression of absolute competence. And competence is
needed in the organisation he has to handle.

Nothing can ruffle him. He sits at a flat-topped desk in a soft-carpeted
room, working quietly, methodically. By the window stands a big steel
safe containing hundreds of pounds in gold, at hand for any emergency.
Ranged on shelves are reference books--"Who's Who," "The Law List,"
"Medical Directory," "A.B.C. Guide," "Continental Bradshaw," and others.
Behind the office table are half a dozen speaking tubes and a telephone.

It is for Mr. McCarthy to enlist the aid of the Press on occasion. It is
sometimes necessary to give wide publicity to a description or a
photograph. Then skilful diplomacy is necessary to avoid giving facts
which, instead of helping, might hamper an investigation. Only of late
years has this co-operation been sought--and credit is due to Mr. Froest
for the manner in which he helped to initiate and apply the system.
Swift publicity has often helped to run down a criminal, notably in the
case of the murderer Crippen.

Immediately associated with Mr. McCarthy at headquarters are four Chief
Detective-Inspectors--Ward, Fowler, Hawkins, and Gough--all men of long
experience and proved qualities. Most of their names are familiar to the
public in connection with the unravelling of mysteries during the last
decade. One Chief Detective-Inspector--Mr. Wensley--has his headquarters
in the East End.

One or more of these is always available in an emergency. Is there an
epidemic of burglary at some district in London? A chief-inspector is
sent to organise a search for the culprits, taking with him a detachment
from Scotland Yard to reinforce the divisional detectives. Problems of
crime that affect London as a whole are dealt with by them.

Some have specialist knowledge of particular classes of crime or
particular districts, though each must be competent to undertake any
investigation, no matter what it may be. Or a provincial police force
may ask for expert aid in, for instance, a baffling murder mystery. One
may be sent by the authority of the Home Secretary to assist in its
solution.

To each of the twenty-two divisions into which the Metropolitan Police
is split up are assigned between twelve to thirty detectives, under a
divisional inspector. In ten of the larger divisions there is a junior
inspector to assist in the control of the staff. Except in a few of the
outlying districts there are one, two, three or more detectives to every
police station. They deal with local crime, make it their business to
know local thieves, and reinforce other divisions or are reinforced as
occasion demands. They have special duties allotted to them, and have to
keep a record in their diaries of the manner in which their time is
spent.

Yet individuality and initiative are not sacrificed by too rigid a
discipline. If a man learnt, for instance, while watching for
pickpockets in the Strand that a robbery was being planned at
Kennington, it would be his duty to make at once for the scene. He would
stay for nothing, gathering assistance, if possible, as he went, but, if
not, going alone.

Usually, it is found that the divisional men can deal with any matter
needing attention in their districts, but occasionally London is
startled by some great mystery. It is then that the C.I.D. moves
swiftly, with every nerve strained to achieve its ends.

There is no actual "murder commission," as there is in some foreign
countries, but every person and device likely to be of assistance is
quickly concentrated on the spot. Not a second of time is lost from the
moment the crime is discovered. First on the spot are the divisional
detective-inspector and his staff. Telephones and the chattering tape
machines tell the details in ten score of police stations.

Mr. Basil Thompson, the Assistant-Commissioner, and Mr. McCarthy will
probably motor in haste to the spot. Specialists are summoned from all
quarters. Not a thing is moved until a minute inspection has been made,
plans drawn, photographs taken, notes made, and finger-prints sought
for. It may be necessary to get certain points settled by experts, by
Dr. Wilcox, the Home Office analyst, Dr. Spilsbury, the pathologist, by
a gunsmith, an expert in handwriting, or any one of a dozen others. The
very best professional assistance is always sought.

The danger of amateur experts was exemplified some years ago, when a
woman who committed suicide tried to destroy every mark of identity on
her clothes. She missed one detail--a laundry mark worked in red thread
on her dressing jacket. The mark was read as E.U.X.A.O.Z., and these
letters were advertised far and wide. Then the President of the Laundry
Association examined the garment, and conclusively showed that the
marks really represented E.48992. It was, he declared, not a laundry
mark at all, but a dyers and cleaners' mark. And this was what it proved
to be.

While the experts are busy the divisional inspector and his men are no
less so. They are making a kind of gigantic snowball enquiry, working
backwards from the persons immediately available. A. has little to say
himself, but there are B. and C. who, he knows, were connected with the
murdered person. And B. and C. having been questioned speak of D. E. F.
and G.; and it may be that a score or more persons have been interviewed
ere one is found who can supply some vital fact. I have known a murder
investigation held up a couple of hours while search was being made for
someone to supply the address of some other person who _might_ know
something.

All very tedious this, and very different from the methods of the
detectives we read about. But then the detectives of fiction somehow
avoid the chance of the flaws in their deductions being sought out by
astute cross-examining counsel.

If a description of the suspected murderer is available a telegraphist
working at Scotland Yard will get it, with the letters "A.S." (all
stations) attached. As he taps his instrument the message is
automatically ticked out simultaneously at every station in the
metropolis.

The great railway termini are watched, and men are thrown to the
outlying stations as a second safeguard. Should the man slip through
this net he will find England locked from port to port. The C.I.D. have
their own men at many ports, and at others the co-operation of the
provincial police is enlisted. He is lucky indeed if he gets away after
the hue and cry has been raised.

There are no chances taken. Everything is put on record, whether it
appears relevant or irrelevant to the enquiry. In the Registry--a kind
of clerical bureau of the Criminal Investigation Department--every
statement, every report is neatly typed, filed in a book with all
relating to the case, and indexed. It remains available just so long as
the crime is unsolved--ten days or ten years. The progress of the case
is always shown to within an hour.

No effort is spared to get on the track of the murderer while the scent
is still warm. Scores of men work on different aspects of the case. The
Finger-print Department may be trying to identify a thumb-print from
among their records; in another part of the building the photographers
have made a lantern slide of certain charred pieces of paper, and are
throwing a magnified reproduction on a screen for closer scrutiny; a
score of men are seeking for a cabman who might have driven the murderer
away.

It may be that these steps will go on for days and weeks with dogged
persistence. This stage of investigation has been aptly likened to a
jig-saw puzzle which may fall from chaos into a composite whole at any
moment. Once the hounds have glimpsed their quarry it is almost hopeless
for him to attempt to escape. His description, his photograph, specimens
of his writing are spread broadcast for the aid of the public in
identifying him wherever he may hide. Men watch the big railway
stations, out-going ships are kept under surveillance, for the C.I.D.
has two or three staff men resident in many parts. They are also
maintained at ports like Boulogne and Calais.

The co-operation of the provincial and foreign police is obtained, and
the wide publicity of newspapers. The whole-heartedness with which the
public throws itself into a hunt of this kind has disadvantages as well
as advantages. A score of times a day people will report someone "very
like" the wanted man as seen almost simultaneously in a score of
different places. All these reports have to be immediately investigated.

And with the search for the culprit the ceaseless search for evidence
goes on. It is no use to catch a murderer if you cannot adduce proof
against him. The enthusiasm of the investigators is not called forth by
a blood-hunt. It is all a part of the mechanism. The C.I.D. and its
members are merely putting through a piece of business quite
impersonally. "A murder has been committed," they say in effect. "We
have caught the person we believe responsible, and this is the evidence.
It does not matter to us what happens now. The jury are responsible."

It once fell to the lot of the writer to see an arrest for a murder with
which the world rang. The merest novice in stage management could have
obtained a better dramatic effect; the arrest of a drunken man by an
ordinary constable would have had more thrill. It was in a street
thronged with people passing homewards from the city. A single detective
waited on each pavement. Presently one of them lifted his hat and the
other crossed over. They fell into step each side of a very ordinary
young man. "Your name is so-and-so," said one. "We are police-officers,
and we should like an explanation of one or two things. It may be
necessary to detain you." A cab stopped, the three got into it, and as
it drove away there were not two people among the thousands in the
street who knew that anything out of the ordinary had happened.

That is typical of the way arrests for great crimes are effected if
possible. Yet, sometimes circumstances force melodrama on the
detectives. Another arrest which was watched by the writer took place at
dead of night in a dirty lodging-house in an East End street. A
house-to-house search had been instituted by forty or fifty armed
detectives. They expected desperate resistance when they found their
quarry. And at last they came upon the man they sought sleeping
peacefully on a truckle bed. A giant detective lifted him bodily. A
great coat was bundled over his night shirt, and he was sent off as he
was, under escort, into the night.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] Sir Howard Vincent, first and only "Director of Criminal
Investigations," said, in 1883: "It has been urged more than once that
better and more reliable detectives might be found among the retired
officers of the army and younger sons of gentlemen than in the ranks of
the police. Willing, as I hope I shall always be, to give every
suggestion a fair trial, six such recruits have been enrolled in the
Criminal Investigation Department with a result, I am sorry to say,
eminently unsatisfactory. There is, I fear, little doubt that the
gentlemen who have failed in one of the professions which they usually
adopt are less trustworthy, less reliable, and more difficult to control
than those who enter a calling such as the police in the ordinary
course."

Sir Charles Warren, in the course of a magazine article which had
tremendous effect on his reign as Commissioner, said, referring to the
detective service: "Some few candidates have been admitted direct to a
great number examined and rejected. Of those admitted, few, if any, have
been found qualified to remain in the detective service. It seems,
therefore, that although the Criminal Investigation Branch is open to
receive any qualified person direct, as a general rule no persons, for
some years past, have presented themselves sufficiently qualified to
remain. And there are indications of the advantages of a previous police
training in the uniform branch in the fact that the most successful
private detectives at present in the country are those who have formerly
been in, and originally trained in, the uniform branch...."



CHAPTER IV.

ON THE TRAIL.


Primarily, the great function of the police is to prevent crime;
secondly, when it has happened, to bring the offender to justice. How do
they work? Not by relying on spasmodic flashes of inspiration, like the
detective of fiction, but by hard, painstaking work, and, of course,
organisation.

Crime is divided into two classes--the habitual and the casual. Every
habitual criminal is known. Numbers vary, but the latest available
figures show that there are 957 habitual criminals in London, of whom
706 are thieves and 161 receivers. Now, each of these thieves has a
distinctive method. A crime occurs. It is reported to the local police
station, and a detective is sent to the scene. Perhaps he is able to say
off-hand: "This job was done by so-and-so." Then, having fixed his man,
he sets to work to accumulate evidence. Scotland Yard is reported to,
and thence word is sent to every police station to keep a look-out for
Brown, or Jones, or Smith--that is, if he has left his usual haunts.
Every detective--strange as it may seem--makes it a point to keep on
good terms with thieves. It is his business. Sooner or later the man
"wanted" is discovered, unless he is exceptionally astute.

There are, of course, a hundred ways of finding the author of the
crime. The good detective chooses the simplest. Subtle analysis is all
very well, but it is apt to lead to blind alleys. Imagine a case such as
occurs every day:

A burglary has been committed and reported to the police. The first
steps are automatic. The divisional detective-inspector in control of
the district sets his staff to work. Men get descriptions of the stolen
property, and within an hour the private telegraph and telephone wires
have carried them to every police station in London. The great printing
machine of Scotland Yard reels off "Informations" four times a day, and
in the next edition the story of the crime is told, and each of the 650
detectives in London, as well as the 20,000 uniformed police, have it
impressed upon their minds.

Swift, unobtrusive little green motor cars carry "Pawnbrokers' Lists" to
every police station to be distributed by hand. The _Police Gazette_
goes out twice a week to the whole police forces of the British Empire.

Every honest market in which the booty can be disposed of is closed. If
the thief has been unwary enough to leave a finger-print it is
photographed, and should he be an old hand the records at Scotland Yard
show his identity in less than half an hour.

All this is a matter of routine. It is "up to" the detectives still to
find their man. Should there be nothing tangible to act upon the
detectives--who know intimately the criminals in their district, and
many out of it--will try a method of elimination. "This," they will say
in effect, "is probably the work of one of half a dozen men. Let us see
who could have done it, and then we shall have something to go on. A.
and B. are in prison; C. we know to be in Newcastle, and D. was at
Southampton. Either E. or F. is the man."

The personal factor enters into the work here. A detective is expected
to be on friendly terms with professional criminals, although he must
not be too friendly. The principle can be illustrated by an anecdote of
Mr. Froest, the famous detective.

Once or twice he had arrested a notorious American crook who was
carrying on operations in this country, and whom I will call Smith. In
one of his occasional spells of liberty, Smith, who was a reputed
murderer in his own country, met Froest. "Say, chief," he drawled after
a little conversation, "I'd just hate to hurt a man like you. I always
carry a gun, and there are times when I'm a bit too handy with it. If
ever you've got to take me _never do it after six in the evening_. I'm a
bit lively then."

It is the business of a detective to know thieves. Without an
acquaintance with their habits of thought and their social customs, he
may be lost. The "informant" plays a great part in practical detective
work, and the informant, it follows, is often a thief himself. Of the
manner in which he is used, I shall have more to say later.

So it is among the friends (and enemies) of E. and F., that the
detectives set to work. It is a task that calls for tact. E., we will
suppose, is at home, and all his movements about the time of the crime
are checked and counter-checked. F. has vanished from his usual haunts.
This is a circumstance suspicious in itself, but rendered more so by
the fact that his wife is uncommonly flush of money.

Often it is harder to connect together legal evidence of guilt than to
catch a criminal. The most positive moral certainty is not sufficient to
convict a man, and English detectives may not avail themselves of
methods in use abroad to bring home a crime to the right person.

Perhaps a detective pays a visit to F.'s wife. With the remembrance of
many kindly acts performed by the police during her husband's
involuntary absences, she is torn between a stubborn loyalty to him and
her wish to be civil to her visitor. He is sympathetic--cynics may not
believe that the sympathy is often genuine--but he has his duty to do.
He does not expect her consciously to betray her husband, but his eyes
are busy while he puts artless questions. An incautious word, the
evasion of a question may give him the hint he seeks, or, on the other
hand, she may be too alert and his mission may be fruitless.

Meanwhile a description and photograph of F. have been circulated by
what may be called the publicity department of Scotland Yard. It may be
even given to the newspapers, for your modern detective realises the
advantage of deft use of the Press.

Remember, F. is a known criminal, and even in so vast a place as London
no man who is known can hide himself indefinitely. A striking personal
instance may be cited. The writer, in the course of an aimless walk
through obscure streets, accompanied by a well-known detective, was
greeted by no fewer than eight officers. I believe there is no instance
on record of a definite person being "wanted" where the police have
failed to find him. He may have escaped arrest for lack of evidence,
but he has been found.

The wide-flung net will, sooner or later, enmesh F. He may be seen and
recognised or, what is more likely, he will be betrayed by one of his
associates. It does not follow that he will at once be arrested and
charged. He may be merely "detained," which means that the police have
him in custody for not more than twenty-four hours, at the end of which
time he must either be brought before a magistrate or set at liberty. He
must not be questioned, but he is given to understand why he is held,
and may, if he likes, volunteer a statement.

If any of the stolen property is found on him the matter at once becomes
straightforward, and if he is believed to have hidden or disposed of it
to any particular person search warrants are procured to bring it to
light.

Another instance of the methods employed by the C.I.D. to establish
identity may be recalled. Two Americans in Frankfort tried to rob a man
of £30,000. One was arrested, and the other got away. The C.I.D. was
asked if it could make any suggestions to the Frankfort police.

Very courteously, Scotland Yard said in effect: "Yes. If the man left in
a hurry, he probably left something behind. Go to his hotel and see."

Frankfort did so, found some luggage in the cloakroom, and among them
shirts with the name of a London maker. A Scotland Yard detective went
to the address, and found the name of a certain American "crook" as
having his shirts made to measure there.

When the man, all unconscious that his connection with the robbery was
known, stepped out of the train at Charing Cross Station a few hours
later he was arrested.

Individual initiative is encouraged in every officer. Luck, too, often
aids justice. Some years ago it was learnt that an absconding bank
cashier would probably try to leave England by a certain liner.

A detective, whom we will call Smith, went armed with a description of
the man to effect an arrest. When he got on board he scrutinised the
passengers closely. Only one man resembled the description. Smith drew
him aside.

"I have reason to believe your name is X.," he said. "I am a police
officer, and I hold a warrant for your arrest."

Highly indignant, the man denied that he was the person described. His
indignation was obviously not assumed, and there were minor
discrepancies between his appearance and the description.

Smith shrugged his shoulders.

"Very well. If you are not X., and can prove it, you have nothing to
fear. In that case I presume you will have no objection to my looking
through your luggage."

X. paled, stuttered, fumed, and protested that he would never consent to
such an outrage.

No conduct could have been more calculated to make the officer
determined. He searched the luggage. In a small handbag he discovered,
hidden away, a mass of notes and gold. Triumphantly, he conducted his
prisoner ashore and had him locked up in the nearest police station.

Then he telephoned to his superior officer, "I've got X."

"No, you haven't," came the startling reply. "We've got him here. He was
arrested at King's Cross half an hour ago."

Utterly bewildered, Smith told of his capture and the compromising gold
and notes.

There was five minutes' silence.

Then the voice at the other end of the telephone said quietly: "Oh,
that's all right. The man you've got is Y., a rate collector, who made a
run from Glasgow a day or two ago."

That was the luck of the service.

Two of the cases in which Mr. Froest was concerned may be recalled, as
illustrating how appearances may sometimes lead to wrong conclusions.

In one, an unknown man was found head down in a water-butt outside a
country bungalow. There was an ugly bruise on his forehead, and the
provincial police who were investigating the case made up their minds
that there had been foul play.

They asked for help from Scotland Yard, and Mr. Froest was sent down. He
looked over the scene, and his eyes twinkled.

"This is not a case of murder," he said. "That man was a tramp. He hurt
his head in climbing through the fence--he was probably going to break
into the house--and went to bathe it in the water-butt. As he put his
head down he slipped and fell in."

One of the listeners heard this explanation with a sceptical grin.

"That couldn't be so," he protested, and, going near the water-butt,
lowered his head to demonstrate the impossibility of such an accident.

The next instant there was a smothered scream and a mighty splash. A
pair of feet waved wildly in the air. As the sceptic was pulled out of
the barrel he extended his hand to Mr. Froest with a sad smile.

"I believe you are right," he said.

In the second instance the crews of two Cardiff tramps had joined in an
effort to "paint the town red" at Bilbao, the Spanish port.

They returned to the quayside with their pockets stuffed full of
biscuits, which they ate as they rolled along. At the quay they were
able to clamber down into the boats, except one fireman, who was almost
completely "under the weather." So a mate of the other boat fastened a
rope round his chest and lowered him to his companions.

Then the mate returned to his own ship. In the morning he was arrested
for murder. The fireman had been dead when taken aboard, and his
appearance showed that he died of strangulation. It was suggested that
the mate had, instead of putting the rope under his arms, put it round
his neck, and drawn him up and down, in and out of the water.

A conviction followed the trial, but, luckily, friends of the convicted
man asked Scotland Yard to make an independent investigation. Mr. Froest
went to Cardiff, where the crews of the two vessels concerned had then
arrived. The more he went into the case the deeper became his conviction
that a miscarriage of justice had occurred. He went back to Scotland
Yard.

"I don't believe the fireman was murdered," he said. "He was eating a
biscuit, and a piece probably stuck in his throat and choked him. As to
his being wet through, it was raining hard at the time."

The Spanish authorities were informed of this theory, and the body of
the "murdered" man was exhumed. Still in the throat was the biscuit
which had choked him.

There was, too, the case of an old woman murdered at Slough. Chief
Detective-Inspector Bower, now head of the Port of London Authority
police, ultimately arrested a man against whom there was nothing but
suspicion, as apart from legal proof. And on the suspect was found a
slip of crumpled paper in which coins had apparently been wrapped. The
marks of the milling were plainly discernible. Mr. Bower wrapped
twenty-one sovereigns--the amount of the money stolen from the
victim--in another piece of paper. The marks corresponded, and it was
mainly on that evidence that the prisoner was convicted.



CHAPTER V.

MAKING A DETECTIVE.


The detective net drawn round London is close and complete. Within the
last two or three years the headquarters staff at Scotland Yard has
completely changed, although there is no man with less than twenty
years' service among the five chief detective-inspectors who act as Mr.
McCarthy's chief-lieutenants.

These are the men who meet in special council when some great crime
stirs London, and whose wits are bent to aid the active efforts of those
deputed for the actual investigation. With them at Scotland Yard are
some seventy or eighty subordinate detectives. Crime that affects London
as a whole is usually dealt with direct from headquarters.

Every division of police in London has its detective detachment of from
twelve to thirty men under divisional inspectors. Except in a very few
of the outlying rural districts of London, there is no police station
without one or more detectives. They are expected to hold local crime in
check. But the machine is adaptable to contingencies. The "morning
report of crime" sent to headquarters shows daily the ebb and flow of
crime. A sudden wave of burglaries, for instance, might be met by
reinforcements from another district or from the Yard itself.

Twice a month the big Council of Crime meets--a gathering at New
Scotland Yard at which thirty or forty of the senior detectives of the
metropolis, heads of districts, and headquarters men meet in conference
and compare notes. The movements of criminals are checked, particular
mysteries discussed. A. is puzzled by certain peculiarities in a robbery
at Hampstead; B. remembers that similar peculiarities were present in an
affair in which he arrested Bill Smith, at Brixton, some years ago.
Resolved unanimously that Bill's recent movements will bear looking
into. Opinions will be discussed of the identity of a swindler who has
been duping furniture dealers by selling them furniture from houses or
flats he has rented. Many a fraud has been detected by these informal
discussions in that bare green-painted room.

One of the greatest difficulties that beset a detective of real life--it
does not so much affect the detective of fiction--is the securing of
evidence that is legally convincing. It is one thing to be morally
certain of a person's guilt; it is quite another thing to prove it to
the satisfaction of a jury. Especially is this so in case of murder.
There is probably no other great city in the world which can boast of no
murder mystery in which for two years the perpetrator remained
undiscovered.

There were twenty-five cases of murder in 1913--the last year for which
figures are available--and twenty-four in 1912. In each one, in 1912,
the guilty person was known. The 1913 cases were thus disposed of.
Eleven arrests were made--one of a man who committed two murders--and in
nine the murderers committed suicide. Three of the other cases were
caused through illegal operations, which were not immediately reported
to the police. The remaining case was that of an Italian who fled
abroad.

The real detective is a common-place man--common-place in the sense that
you would not pick him out of a crowd for what he is. He assiduously
avoids mannerisms. You will find him genial rather than mysterious. He
does not wear policeman's boots, and he is not always weaving a subtle
network of deductions. He is a plain business man of shrewd common-sense
who has been carefully trained to take the quickest and most accurate
way to a desired end. You can almost fancy him drawing up an
advertisement:

"Criminals (assorted) for disposal. Large selection always available.
Special orders executed at the shortest notice. Apply Criminal
Investigation Department, New Scotland Yard, S.W."

And on occasion he takes, so to speak, your burglar, your pickpocket, or
your forger off the shelf, carefully dusts his label, and dispatches
him, carriage paid, with a neat parcels note, for conveyance to his
ultimate destination by the old-established firm of transport agents in
the Old Bailey.

The London detective grows up in an atmosphere of business. Romance,
adventure are incidental--and rare. Before he can bring off any big coup
he has thoroughly to understand the handling of the big machine of which
he forms part. And above all he must have courage--not merely physical
courage, but a courage that will assume big responsibility in an instant
of stress.

Melville, sometime of the Special Branch, for instance, once committed a
flagrant illegality when he decoyed a dangerous Anarchist into a wine
cellar and locked him in while a great personage was passing through
London. And Mr. Frank Froest, when he snatched a noted embezzler from
the Argentine after all attempts to obtain his extradition had failed,
gave an example of the same kind of courage. Another detective, in a
case where the body of a murdered man had been hidden, did not hesitate
to arrest the murderer on the flimsy charge of "being in unlawful
possession of a pickaxe" to prevent flight while he continued his
search. In each case these men deliberately adopted risks to attain
their ends which nothing but success could warrant.

There are 650 men attached to the Criminal Investigation Department, and
they have all learned their trade by tedious degrees. They all started,
even the superintendents at their head, as constables on street duty.

Consider the precautions that are taken in recruiting the department.
The candidate has passed the stringent tests of character and physique
applied to all metropolitan police officers. He has been watched, with
unostentatious vigilance, for defects of temperament or intelligence. A
few months he has on street duty in uniform, and then he may apply for
transfer to the C.I.D. He may be recommended then by his divisional
superiors to Mr. McCarthy--the blonde blue-eyed Irishman who rules the
Central C.I.D.--who himself interviews and makes a rapid judgment of the
aspirant before he is passed on to an examining board of two veteran
chief detective-inspectors sitting with a Chief Constable. Some of the
questions he will be expected to answer run like this: "How may you
utilise the photographs of persons suspected of crime, and what
precautions would you take?" "What is meant by a 'special enquiry'?"
"Give examples of the use special enquiries can be put to in detecting
offenders against the law."

These examinations, it may be said, are compulsory at every step in
promotion in the detective service, in addition to educational
examinations carried out independently by the Civil Service
Commissioners. Here is a question put at an examination for promotion to
detective-sergeant which might form the skeleton of a detective story.

"A night-watchman, in going his rounds, discovers two men attempting to
break open a safe on the premises. Both men make good their escape by a
window, but one of them receives a blow on the head from the watchman
which causes blood to flow, while the other leaves his jacket behind.

"The watchman can give a fair description of the men. In the jacket left
behind, which bears no maker's name, are found the following:--(1) A
return-half ticket to Birmingham from London; (2) A snapshot of a lady
having the appearance of a music hall performer, signed 'Kitty,' but
with no photographer's name; (3) a letter (no envelope) as follows:--


     "King Street.

     'DEAR TOM.--I hope you are coming up on Tuesday. Things are bad
     here since Bill got his three months.
     'MARY.'


"State as fully as you can what steps you suggest should be taken to
trace the offenders. How could the articles found be made use of in the
enquiry?"

The preliminary examination is only the first step. The young man who
passes finds himself a "patrol on probation," with the knowledge that if
he does not justify himself he will be returned to the blue-coated
ranks. He is put to school again--the little-known detective school that
is maintained at Scotland Yard, with Detective-Inspector Belcher at its
head. There are lectures on law, and even lantern lectures. He is taught
the methods of criminals, from gambling sharps to forgers, from
pickpockets to petty sneak-thieves. The Black Museum primarily exists
for his instruction. He is shown jemmies, coining implements,
shop-lifting devices, and the latest word in the march of scientific
burglary--the oxy-acetylene apparatus. All that ingenuity and experience
can suggest for the confusion of the criminal is taught him. He is shown
where an expert must be called in, and where his own common-sense must
aid him. He is taught something of locks, something of finger-prints,
something of cipher-reading. He learns the significance of trivialities,
and the high importance of method.

I have said that the detective must know when to call in the expert.
Science plays no inconspicuous part in many investigations, and there is
a little corps of consulting specialists whose aid is always available.
It was the work of the analyst that proved the guilt of men like Seddon
and Crippen. The microscopist has brought more than one forger to
justice. A murder was proved because a tool-maker's aid was enlisted to
decipher some scratches on a chisel. A blackmailer was captured because
a paper manufacturer identified a peculiar make of paper on which a
letter was written. And, of course, the help of the medical jurisprudent
is a commonplace of criminal investigation.

The finger-print experts are on the staff; so, too, are the
photographers. There is a big magic lantern used in connection with the
latter department which has made clear more than one mystery by the
enlargement of some photograph. In one case an envelope with a blurred
post-mark was picked up on the scene of a robbery. It was enlarged, and
so the name of a town was picked out. In an hour or two the criminal was
under arrest.



CHAPTER VI.

MORE ABOUT INVESTIGATION.


Outside fiction, the real detective does not disguise himself in any
elaborate or melodramatic fashion. He will not wear a false moustache or
a wig, for instance. But the beginner is taught how a difference in
dressing the hair, the combing out or waxing of a moustache, the
substitution of a muffler for a collar, a cap for a bowler will alter
his appearance. They keep a "make-up" room at headquarters, its most
conspicuous feature being a photograph of a group of dirty-looking
ruffians--detectives in disguise. But it is a disguise the more
impenetrable because there is nothing that can go wrong with it. Yet not
half a dozen times in a year is the make-up room used.

The kind of case in which a disguise is useful may be illustrated. Some
thieves had broken into St. George's Cathedral, at Southwark, and then
rifled the Bishop's Palace. The booty they secured was worth some three
thousand pounds, and they left not the faintest trace behind. The
officer charged with the investigation resolved on a long shot. He
dressed himself--I quote a newspaper report--"in a long overcoat and
slouched hat, sported a heavy chain, smoked a big cigar, and was well
supplied with gold." In this attire he made himself conspicuous about
Vauxhall. Among the "crooks" of that neighbourhood, it soon became known
that a Jew receiver--one Cohen, of Brick Lane, Whitechapel--was about,
and in a very short while the "receiver" knew all that he needed to
arrest the thieves and recover the stolen property.

"Shadowing," too, is a matter of experience. Let anyone who doubts its
difficulties try the experiment of keeping sight of a person in a
frequented thoroughfare. When a suspect knows or guesses he is being
followed--as he inevitably does, if it is continued for a day or two--it
becomes ten times more difficult. Unless incessant watchfulness is
maintained, a shadowed person will be lost sight of in five minutes.
Shadowing is, when possible, always done by detectives in pairs,
sometimes in threes. Detective No. 1 shadows the suspect, detective No.
2 shadows his colleague. Then if the suspect stops or turns suddenly No.
1 walks innocently on and No. 2 takes up the chase. It is a wearisome
task when a person has to be watched incessantly, for it may not be
possible to assign a spot with any certainty for reliefs to continue the
trail.

When the young detective begins his career he will carry a virgin
drab-coloured diary in his breast pocket, wherein he will be expected to
record every moment spent on duty, every penny he spends. If any
illusion remains in his mind that he will be turned loose on the streets
to catch thieves or murderers, it is quickly destroyed. Hard labour is
his portion. Small enquiries at pawnbrokers', searching directories to
verify addresses, running errands for his superiors, and doing all the
small odd jobs are his immediate concern.

Only now and again is he called upon to play a minor part in an arrest.
But all the while he will be learning and improving his acquaintance
with the thieves in his district. All his painfully acquired knowledge
goes for little unless he can cultivate a certain friendship with the
rogues in the vicinity of his sphere of duty.

The "informant" plays a big part in the workings of Scotland Yard. If
the old phrase, "Honour among thieves," had any truth in it, London
would be a poor place for honest men to live in. But gossip of the
underworld is easily attainable to ears that wish to catch it.

One of the problems which beset the architect of New Scotland Yard was
this same problem of the informant. An inconspicuous entrance had to be
arranged by which access could be unobtrusively gained by a person too
shy to be seen walking publicly up the main entrance of the headquarters
of police.

A great detective once told the writer how, in his early days, he set to
work to learn the world, and gained valuable acquaintance with the
deliberation that a young student might apply to the pursuit of an exact
science. He took a room in Jermyn Street, and began his studies in every
moment he could spare off duty. "I haunted night clubs; I went to
gambling houses; I was a frequenter of any resort where one was likely
to meet rogues or tricksters. I stored my memory with faces, and made
myself friendly with all sorts of people--waiters, barmen, and
hall-porters. So it was that I got hints that I should never have got by
any other method, and scores of times, years afterwards, I received
information from the channels I had formed when I began. To show the
value of some of these acquaintances I may tell you that when some idea
of my identity leaked out at one of these clubs an American crook--he
was drunk--declared openly that he would shoot me at sight. The waiter
contrived to draw the cartridges from his revolver, and to give me a
hint as I entered. And sure enough my man stood up, took aim, and pulled
the trigger of the empty weapon. I hit him on the jaw, and let it rest
at that. But if I hadn't treated that waiter right, I might have been a
dead man now."

The personal factor is an important one in dealing with informants.
There is not very often ill-feeling between criminals and detectives. A
slight straining of red-tape will sometimes have wide-reaching results.
A detective, conveying a prisoner from Liverpool to London, offered the
latter a cigar. "You're a good sort," exclaimed the man impulsively.
"Tell you what; I'm in for it, I know. But I can do you a bit of good.
It was X. and Z. who did that Hatton Garden business." And so was
provided a clue to an apparently insoluble mystery.

At the end of three months, the probationer, if he has qualified, finds
himself a fully-fledged "detective-patrol." Thereafter he has to pass an
examination whenever he is promoted, and may pass upwards through the
grades of third, second, and first class detective-sergeants to second,
first, and divisional inspector, and even eventually to chief
detective-inspector.

The everyday duties of the C.I.D. are legion. There are "Informations"
passing between headquarters and the different stations daily, almost
hourly. Stolen property has to be traced, pawnbrokers visited, convicts
on licence watched, reports made, inquiries conducted by request of
provincial police forces. It means hard, painstaking work from morning
to night.

As I have said, so far as is consistent with his duty, a man keeps on
good terms with those criminals he knows. It is a point of policy. They
know that the average detective does not wish them harm. If he has to
arrest them they know he will be scrupulously fair when it comes to
giving evidence. Often a detective will help a man out of his own pocket
when he knows that a case is really a necessitous one. He has no animus
against any person he arrests. His duty is merely to place in safe
custody the person he believes to be responsible for a breach of the
law. Conviction or acquittal matters nothing to him after that. He has
done his duty.

A wide knowledge of human nature is necessary to his calling, and he
never forgets that the power of a police officer has its limitations. A
man who brings discredit or ridicule on the department has a short-lived
official life.

There is another part of the Criminal Investigation Department which has
duties entirely distinct from that of the main body of detectives. That
is the Special Branch, under Superintendent Quinn, M.V.O.--a section
which, with the war, has suddenly become of great importance, for it has
now largely to do with the spy peril. Of its methods and organisation
little can be said, for obvious reasons.

In ordinary times it concerns itself solely with the protection of high
personages, from the King and Queen and Cabinet Ministers to
distinguished foreign visitors. The Special Branch in the days of
suffragette outrages was the chief foe of the vote-seekers. It deals,
too, with all political offences which need investigation.

There is a special squad of officers who deal with the white slave
traffic. These are assisted by a lady appointed by the Home Office. She
makes enquiries from women and children where victims might be reluctant
to confide in a man, and has other similar duties.

The department is practically self-contained, working side by side with
the uniform branch under its own officers. The point of contact is at
superintendents of divisions, who exercise a supervising control.



CHAPTER VII.

THE CROOKS' CLEARING-HOUSE.


Many high authorities have argued that the best way to prevent crime is
to keep all known criminals under lock and key, as we do lunatics. The
theory may be right or wrong, but it is not yet possible to put it into
practice.

So Scotland Yard does the next best thing, and exercises a quiet,
unwearying, persistent surveillance on those hundreds of persons who are
likely to resume their depredations on society when they are released
from prison.

For over fifty years--since 1862--there has been accumulating a library
of biography on which prison governors and police officials have worked,
which must by now include every living criminal by profession who has
enjoyed the hospitality of the State.

The files--immense, dirty brown covered albums--each containing 6,000
photographs--overflow through room after room and corridor after
corridor. There are smaller volumes with duplicate photographs, 500 in
each, which give particulars of marks or physical peculiarities.
Hundreds of thousands of records are kept, mostly illustrated by the
inevitable full and side face photographs, and each is kept up-to-date
with scrupulous care.

The Convict Supervision Office, with its subsidiary Habitual Criminals
Registry, has within the last year or two been amalgamated with the
Finger-print Section under the general title of the Criminal Record
Office. Although the two departments work in unison and are, to a
certain point, interdependent, their work has to be conducted in
sub-departments.

The Habitual Criminals Registry--I retain the old title for
convenience--is a sort of British Museum of crime. It is a central
bureau that is constantly being consulted from all parts of the kingdom,
and not seldom from all parts of the world. It has to be ready at any
moment to lay its hands on the record of any criminal that may be
demanded, and in this it is immensely helped by the Finger-print
Department, which can usually identify the person and supply the number
by which he is known.

It sometimes happens, however, that no finger-prints are available. Then
search has to be made under the old system. The records are grouped by
the height of their subjects and the colour of their eyes and hair.
Thus, if a prisoner on remand is five feet nine, with blue eyes and
brown hair, the margin of search is limited to those indexed under those
characteristics.

The records include photographs, descriptions, and particulars not only
of licence-holders and supervisees, but of every person who has been
convicted twice or more times of any crime, with a few exceptions, and
of all persons sentenced to hard labour for a month or more.

They are a veritable "Who's Who" of the criminal world, and go even
further than that useful work of reference in supplying intimate details
of the appearance and idiosyncrasies of their subjects.

But the keeping of recidivist records is only one part of the business
of the Criminal Record Office. This is the department which is
responsible for keeping a watchful eye on those people the public love
to call "ticket-of-leave men," but who are officially known as
licence-holders or supervisees.

These are convicts who, through good conduct in prison, have been
released before the expiration of the full term of their sentence, or
persons ordered at the time of their conviction to undergo a period of
police supervision after they leave prison. This class is composed very
largely of an elusive gentry, and to keep track of their comings and
goings is no simple matter when they have reason to vanish for a season.

There are usually about a thousand of these in London; the exact number
in 1913 was 811. Strict regulations are laid down, which they must
observe for the protection of the community; but, in practice, they are
afforded every facility for earning an honest living.

Ever and anon the old myth recurs that "ticket-of-leave men" are hounded
and harassed by the police so that ultimately they are thrown back to
their old life in sheer despair.

Listen to what the "Police Code" says:


     "It is of great importance to avoid giving licence-holders and
     supervisees any ground for alleging that they are being interfered
     with by the police, or in any way prevented from leading an honest
     life. When it is necessary to make enquiries at their addresses or
     places of business it is desirable, if possible, that they should
     be made by officers in plain clothes who are not known in the
     district, and great care should be taken that the nature of the
     inquiry should not be disclosed to anyone other than the
     licence-holder or supervisee himself."


That regulation is carried out with a rigid regard for both the spirit
and the letter.

The relations of the detective force with the men they watch are quite
friendly. It is a matter of policy that they should be so. Yet the
situation has its humours at times.

There is a fund maintained at the office from which many ex-convicts
have been provided with a fresh start in a straightforward career. No
inconvenient enquiries are made, and the bare word of the applicant is
often accepted--within limits, of course.

Does he want to sell flowers? A stock is provided. Is he a workman
needing tools? He is supplied. Another cannot get a berth because his
clothes are in pawn; a detective is sent to redeem them.

There is no bother or fuss. Scotland Yard knows the class too well. It
knows that it is often cheated by liars; on the other hand, prompt help
may really redeem a man. Every chance is given a man to run straight,
however often he has fallen. And most of those who are helped do not
forget.

There are, however--as there must be--many who take advantage of the
system. One man had his clothes taken out of pawn. He thanked the
office--and promptly went and hypothecated them at another place. There
was another coolly impudent scoundrel, with a turn for carpentry, who
made all sorts of odds and ends out of soap boxes. He always had some
plausible story. He wanted tools or materials, or his rent was in
arrears, or there was a doctor's bill to pay. Surprise visits to his
rooms in the East End always bore out his story. But, ultimately it was
discovered that he was doing the same thing with many charitable
societies--the Church Army, the Salvation Army, and others. He made
quite a good thing out of it while it lasted.

But usually Scotland Yard is not imposed on twice by the same person.

Police science has evolved the Criminal Record Office very gradually.
The problem of the incorrigible offender is one that many years' study
has not yet completely solved. When the licence system was first
initiated the police were instructed by the Home Office not to interfere
with the ticket-of-leave men, and, not strangely, these men found
opportunities of crime made easy for them.

But prison reorganisation and police organisation went on hand in hand
until, in 1880, the Convict Supervision Office was established. Then, as
now, its chief work lay in classifying the records and photographs of
habitual criminals, compiling the "Rogues' Gallery," which is still of
inestimable value in the prevention of crime.

The finger-print system is, of course, of enormous aid in
identification, and, as I have said, is a complete safeguard against the
possibility of a wrongful conviction. The ordinary detective is most
often engaged in tracing a criminal after a breach of the law has been
committed. The Criminal Record Office has the more delicate duty of
trying to prevent crime.

It is a distinct sociological force, incessantly watchful that none of
those persons who are allowed out of prison on probation (which is
really what the licence system amounts to) drift back into the evil ways
or among evil associates. By this means it is endeavoured to cut at the
very roots of crime in this country, for it is a proved fact that the
larger proportion of serious offences which are brought before the
courts are the work of the habitual criminals.

Thus, of 10,165 persons convicted of serious crime at assizes and
quarter sessions throughout the kingdom during 1913 nearly 70 per cent.
were recognised as having been convicted before--a significant fact
which emphasises the necessity of the eternal vigilance of the C.R.O.

While I was gathering material on this subject I was prepared to find
that the police acted with severity. I was agreeably disappointed. I
found that they go as far as possible to the other extreme.

In effect, the law says that a licence-holder or supervisee shall
produce a license when called upon, shall not habitually associate with
persons of bad character, shall not lead an idle or dissolute life,
shall report themselves monthly to the nearest police station (this
regulation does not apply to women), and report any change of address.

But the law is carried out with a broad appreciation of the variations
in human nature--even criminal human nature. There are dangerous men who
must be watched closely; there are others it is unnecessary to keep
under close surveillance.

A licence-holder, as distinct from a supervisee, is not necessarily
likely to become a criminal again. A trusted clerk in a City office who
has forged his employer's name, a solicitor absconding with trust funds,
a man who has committed manslaughter are not to be classed in this
respect with burglars, jewel thieves, or coiners.

It is true that either class may hold licences, but the former are not
often sentenced to police supervision. They are not, in that sense,
habitual criminals. So the circumstances of every case are taken into
consideration.

Sometimes a man is allowed to report himself by letter instead of in
person. Nor is a detective attached to a district, who might be known as
a police officer, allowed to make inquiries when the mere fact of his
calling might make things unpleasant for a licence-holder. A stranger
from Scotland Yard is sent. This applies especially when a man is in a
workhouse, a hospital, a Church Army labour home, and such places.

To a limited extent the work of the department has been lightened by the
scheme which resulted in the establishment of the Central Association
for the Aid of Discharged Convicts--an amalgamation of various
prisoners' aid societies--which may recommend that a discharged prisoner
should be excused reporting to the police in certain cases. The result
has been that one man in every ten has been freed from the obligation to
report.

There is a little row of figures in the last issue of "Judicial
Statistics" which affords a striking illustration of the work of the
department. It shows that during the year 1913 the number of persons
under police supervision in the Metropolitan Police district was 1,197.
This is what happened to them:


     Supervision expired                          229
     Supervision remitted by Home Secretary         3
     Removed to other districts                   111
     Sent to prison                               133
     Missing                                       49
     Left England                                  30
     Died                                           7


No less than 421 were known or believed to be living honestly, and those
who were suspected of continuing their old career of roguery, but were
not convicted, numbered only 95.

The management of the office is vested in Chief Detective-Inspector
Thomas--a shrewd, able man, with a wide experience, in which he has
gained a keen and extensive knowledge of criminals of all types--who
deals with those who come under his jurisdiction with a firm and tactful
hand. He has a staff of twenty-two assistants, which includes the only
two women detectives--if they are strictly detectives--in the service.
In point of fact these ladies are employed by the Home Office and
attached to Scotland Yard, so that strictly they must not be considered
"policewomen."

These ladies are necessary in carrying out the policy of the department,
and their duties are wide. No man is allowed to visit a female
licence-holder or supervisee, mainly for the reason that his identity
might be suspected. So the women detectives take this in hand, and with
feminine tact manage to know all about their protégées, to give a
warning here, sympathetic advice there, in a way that would be difficult
for any man to do.

Their work takes them at times into some of the worst quarters of
London, and all their pluck and firmness are sometimes needed, for
habitual women criminals are usually worse subjects to handle than the
habitual male criminal.

For criminals, as for experts in other trades, all roads lead to London.
Your expert criminal, whatever his branch of rascality, sooner or later
tries his hand in the metropolis, and so there is a continual inward and
outward flow of persons the office must keep in touch with.

This is done by the co-operation of the provincial police, and by the
issue of the "Habitual Criminals Register," which gives detailed
particulars of persons entered in the files of a department. This is
sent to every police force in the kingdom.

There is another very useful publication which has brought about the
downfall of many an ambitious rascal. It is called the "Illustrated
Circular," and its subject is travelling criminals.

These form a clever, mobile fraternity who operate swindles and
robberies in one part after another, dodging in and out of various
police districts. They are as slippery as eels, and, without some means
of codifying information as to their movements and delinquencies, many
of them would defy justice with impunity.

The "Illustrated Circular" forms a link between the police jurisdictions
in this respect. It gives descriptions and particulars of the latest
known movements of itinerant criminals, and publishes photographs of
them, to enable police officers to recognise them wherever they may go.

Every movement made by a travelling criminal is recorded in the
"Circular." Men who have found themselves too closely watched by the
Bristol police may, for example, hope to find Cardiff less vigilant. But
the "Illustrated Circular" tells of their departure from Bristol, and
Cardiff is on the alert. There is little hope of escape from that
all-pervading vigilance.

The _Police Gazette_, too, is issued by this department twice a week,
not only to all the police forces of the kingdom, but to the Colonies
and the nearest European countries. This is the latest police move to
checkmate the operations of the more widely travelling rogues.

No less important are the "Special Release Notices" or, as it is now
called, the _Weekly List of Habitual Criminals_. Since 1896 prison
officials have furnished to Scotland Yard, every week, a list of
prisoners about to be released who are habitual criminals. This list,
which gives a detailed description of each man, and his index number in
the records, is sent to every police force in the country. It is so made
easy to draw a conclusion should an outbreak of burglaries commence in a
district wherein a burglar has lately been released.

In a corner of one room in Scotland Yard is piled a miscellaneous heap
of thieves' equipment--jemmies, chisels, scientific safe-breaking
implements, and other oddments. The office periodically destroys these,
though their fashioning has probably cost skilled workmen much time and
trouble. Only a new invention is spared, and that so that it may be
placed in the Black Museum for instructive purposes.

In other rooms is kept the personal property of the prisoners still
undergoing sentence. It was, I think, David Harum who remarked that
there was as much human nature in some folks as there is in others--if
not more. A glance round this mixed assortment proves the truth of the
truism.

A bag of golf clubs, a fishing rod, cameras, books, clothes, rings,
watches, jewellery--all give an index to the temperament of the
individual owning them. Money, too, is often kept here by the wish of
the convicts themselves. Personal belongings are restored at the
expiration of a sentence, but valuable articles--and many find their way
to the store-room--are not restored except on absolute proof of
ownership. When a claim is doubtful the matter is referred to a
magistrate, and on his order the disposal of the property rests.

The department plays no small part in tightening the meshes of the net
that keeps evil-doers within bounds. It does its duty with kindliness,
but without fear or favour; but the difficulties of the work are so
enormous that they could hardly be exaggerated.



CHAPTER VIII.

FINGER-PRINTS.


Once upon a time a wily burglar sat in his cell at Brixton awaiting
trial. He knew that conviction for his latest escapade was inevitable.

That troubled him little. As he would probably have said, he could do
the sentence he was likely to get for a first offence "on his head." But
it was by no means a first offence. Stored away at Scotland Yard was a
long list of little affairs in which he had been concerned which would
not incline the judge to leniency.

John Smith--that is not his real name, but it will serve--knew that
presently warders would ask him to press inky fingers on a white sheet
of paper, so that the resulting prints should be sent to Scotland Yard.
Inevitably then his previous ill-doings would be disclosed. They might
make all the difference between a nominal sentence as a first offender
and five years' penal servitude as an habitual criminal, to say nothing
of police supervision afterwards.

John Smith thought hard, and at last got an idea. He broke a tag from
his boot-lace and began to skin the tips of his fingers until, as he
thought, every trace of a pattern by which he could be identified had
been obliterated.

Notwithstanding his bleeding hands, he smiled cheerfully when he was
reported for prison hospital treatment. The sequel affords a saddening
reflection on misplaced ingenuity and endurance. He had only penetrated
the outer skin, and it began to grow again.

They nursed his bandaged hands with infinite care, for a conclusion as
to his record had become obvious. And then officers took his prints
after all--and discovered that he was none other than Bill Brown, with a
criminal history to which an Old Bailey judge listened with unaffected
interest. Bill--or John--got his five years after all.

I have told this little story because it affords an excellent
illustration of the work of the finger-print department at Scotland
Yard--a department which serves not only the Metropolitan Police, but
every police force in the kingdom.

There is a great deal of confusion in the public mind between
Bertillonage and the finger-print system. Even responsible London
newspapers fell into the error, when M. Bertillon died, of ascribing to
him the invention of the system--with which he had nothing to do.

To many people has been ascribed the discovery that finger-prints are an
infallible method of identification. The knowledge however was of little
use till the inventive genius of one man worked out a simple method of
classification for police purposes, so that prints could be compared
almost instantly with those on record. That man was Sir Edward Henry,
long before he came to Scotland Yard, when he was in the Indian police
service.

The Henry system has almost entirely superseded the Bertillon system
throughout the world, and there is little doubt that it will ultimately
become universal. Thousands of criminals who would otherwise have
escaped a full measure of punishment for their misdeeds curse its
author. It is in this department that police science has been brought to
its highest pitch of perfection--a perfection begot of organisation.

Every prisoner for a month or longer nowadays has his prints taken a
little before he is discharged. These prints, if they are not already in
the records of Scotland Yard, are added to them, and a number gives the
key to the man's record in the Habitual Criminals Registry.

In this manner there has accumulated since 1901, when the system was
first put in force, a collection of more than two hundred thousand
prints. It is all a matter of system, of scientific and literal
exactness, and there is no margin of error. A mistake in identification
by finger-prints is literally impossible.

As everyone knows, the ridges at the tips of the fingers maintain their
formation from birth to death, and even after. Nothing can change them.
It is a possibility, though I believe it has never been known to happen,
that there are two people in the world who have the markings on one
finger-tip exactly alike. But even that incredible chance is guarded
against, by taking the markings of the whole ten fingers. It will be
realised how great a miracle it would be for two persons to have exactly
the same lines, broken in exactly the same way, in exactly the same
order on their two hands. That fact is the root principle of the
finger-print work.

It is necessary to point out that the existence of the department is
not so much for the purpose of detecting crime as of detecting
criminals. In the administration of justice a judge takes the past
career of a prisoner into consideration when passing sentence. The main
work of the department is to furnish the clue to a past career by
scrutinising the finger-prints of persons on remand to discover whether
they are habitual criminals or not.

A thousand aliases will not help a man, no change of appearance, no
protestations of mistake, if his prints correspond with those in the
files. But it is all so simply done. There is nothing spectacular,
nothing imposing about the process. Practically all that is needed is a
piece of tin, some printer's ink, and a sheet of paper. Within a few
minutes afterwards his record can be known.

Compare this with the old Bertillon system of anthropometric
measurements. Bertillon's system depends on the fact that after a person
reaches maturity certain portions of the body are always the same in
measurement. The theory is sound, but the difficulties in the way of
applying it are immense.

In his book Sir Edward Henry has pointed out the defects of the system.
The instruments are costly, measurers have to be specially trained, and
even so may make a mistake--an error of two twenty-fifths of an inch
will prevent identification--the search among the records may take an
hour or more, and, moreover, through carelessness or inattention, the
whole data may be wrong. For six years--from 1895 to 1901--this system
was in force at Scotland Yard. The maximum number of identifications in
any one year was 500. In 1913, by the aid of finger-prints, 10,607
persons were identified.

Roughly, it is all a matter of classification into "arches," "loops,"
"whorls," and "composites." It is intricate to describe, but simple to
carry out. To the uninitiated it inevitably suggests the old problem
"think of a number, double it--."

What happens is this: Every print for primary classification purposes is
considered as a loop or a whorl. The fingers are taken in pairs and put
down something like this:


      L.  L.  W.  L.  L.
     --------------------
      L.  W.  W.  W.  W.


Now a whorl occurring in the first pair would count sixteen, in the
second, eight, and so on. The loops are ignored. Consequently, the
number in the above formula is:


      0. 0. 4. 0. 0.
     ----------------
      0. 8. 4. 2. 1.


These are added together and become 4-15. The figure 1 is added above
and below, and the searcher knows that he has to look for the record he
wants in the sixteenth file of Number 5 horizontal row in a cabinet
specially arranged.

Of course, sub-classification is carried much farther than this, but it
is scarcely necessary to elaborate the point.

Day by day, the prison governors from all parts of the country are
sending in records to be added to the files, and police authorities,
also from all parts of the country, are asking for prisoners to be
identified.

An interesting story concerns two men whom we will call Robinson and
Jones, who were tried for different offences the same day. Robinson was
rich; Jones was not. Robinson received a long sentence, Jones a light
one.

Probably they arranged it all in the prison van, but anyhow, when they
reached the gaol they had changed identities--and sentences. All went
well until a short time before the _soi-disant_ Jones was due to be
released. Then his finger-prints were taken, compared with those of
Jones in the files, and found not to correspond.

Half an hour later wires were being exchanged between Scotland Yard and
the prison, and, to the mutual consternation of the two men, the little
scheme was revealed. Finger-prints had outwitted them.

Save for a few filing cabinets stretching from floor to ceiling in a
well-lighted room, there is little apparent difference between the
Finger-print Department at Scotland Yard and the interior of an ordinary
City office. Men pore over foolscap sheets of paper with magnifying
glasses, comparing, classifying, and checking, day in, day out.

They are all detectives, but their work is specialist work, totally
different to that of the bulk of the men of the C.I.D. It may be that
sometimes they realise that a man's life or liberty depends on their
scrutiny, but for the most part they do their work with cold
deliberation and machine-like precision. Is one set of finger-marks
identical with another? That is all they have to answer. It is the pride
of the department that since it has been established it has never made a
mistake.

At its head is Chief Detective Inspector Charles Collins, an enthusiast
in identification work, who has seen the system change from the old days
when detectives paid periodical visits to Holloway Prison to see if they
could recognise prisoners on remand, and when profile and full-face
photographs were used for the records, to that now in use which he has
had no small share in bringing to its high state of efficiency.

He can read a finger-print as other men can read a letter, and has even,
for the purposes of study, taken prints of the fingers of monkeys at the
Zoo. Many times has he given evidence as an expert in cases where
finger-prints have formed part of the evidence. His cold, scientific
analysis has always convinced the most sceptical, and always a
conviction has followed.

He wrote the chapter dealing with the photographing and enlarging of
finger-prints in Sir Edward Henry's standard work on the subject, and is
something of a magician in the way he can detect a mark when none is
obvious to the naked eye.

I have seen a man press his fingers on a clean sheet of paper,
apparently without leaving the faintest trace. But Mr. Collins is not
baffled so. A pinch of black powder--graphite is commonly
used--scattered over the paper, and behold the prints standing out in
high relief. A grey powder will act in the same way on a dark surface,
and a candle which has been pressed by the fingers may have the print
rendered clear by a judicious use of ordinary printer's ink.

A corps of expert photographers, equipped with the latest appliances, is
attached to the department, and their services are in constant
requisition by the C.I.D. for many purposes other than those of
finger-prints. One room is entirely devoted to a powerful lantern
apparatus by which every photograph may be thrown up to a hundred times
its normal size for the purpose of minute study. This has often proved
useful in detecting forgeries as well as aiding the work of the
Finger-print Department.

I have said that the primary purpose of the department is not the
detection of crime. Nevertheless, it has played no small part in the
solution of mysteries where other clues have failed. There was the case
of the Stratton brothers, for instance, where the print on a cash-box
led to arrest, although other evidence aided the conviction.

Perhaps the most interesting case is that which first focussed the
public attention on the value of the system. It occurred in 1898,
shortly after the present Commissioner initiated the system in India. He
himself tells the story.

The manager of a tea-garden was found murdered, and a safe and
despatch-box robbed of several hundred rupees. Suspicion was at first
divided among the coolies and cook, the relatives of a woman with whom
the dead man had carried on an intrigue, a wandering gang of Kabulis,
and an ex-servant whom he had prosecuted for theft--a wide enough field,
in all conscience.

But the police were unexpectedly helped in their investigation by the
discovery in the despatch-box of a small light-blue book, a calendar in
Bengali characters. On the cover were two indistinct smudges. Under a
magnifying-glass these proved to be the impressions of a blood-stained
finger.

Search was made in the records of the Bengal police, and it was found
that the finger-print was that of the right thumb of the ex-servant.

He was arrested some hundreds of miles away, and charged with murder and
robbery. On the ground that it would be unsafe to convict him of murder,
as no one saw him do it, he was acquitted on that charge, but was
convicted of theft.

It would be possible to write largely on cases where finger-prints have
afforded culminating proof of a person's guilt. One that has a grim
touch of humour may be recalled.

A constable pacing his beat in Clerkenwell noticed a human finger on one
of the spikes of the gate of a warehouse. Closer investigation showed
that the place had been broken into, and that the marauder had been
disturbed and taken to flight in panic. In scaling the gates he had
caught the little finger of his right hand on the spikes, and it had
been torn away.

It was sent to the Finger-print Department and identified as that of a
man well-known to the police, and the word was passed round the C.I.D.
to keep a bright look-out for him. Time went on. The finger, carefully
kept in spirits, remained at Scotland Yard.

Then one day a detective arrested a man for picking pockets near the
Elephant and Castle. One hand was bandaged, but the prisoner was
unwilling to say what was the matter with it. Soon the reason of his
reluctance was disclosed.

The Finger-print Department held his missing finger.

But if the Finger-print Department makes it hard for the guilty, it
often helps the innocent. Such a case as that of Adolph Beck would now
be impossible. There are two criminals alive to-day who are said to be
so much alike that the difference can only be told by their
finger-prints.

One hears often that the police will bolster each other up when a
mistake is made. That is, of course, preposterously false throughout the
service. There have been cases where police officers have been prepared,
quite honestly, to swear to a man as an old offender, and the department
has stepped in in time to prevent the error.

It should be understood that the fact of finger-prints being found at or
near the scene of a crime does not mean that they are of any use in
solving a mystery, unless facsimiles are in the records--that is to say,
a criminal has been convicted before. This rarely happens in the case of
murder, for the reason that a murderer is unlikely, in an official
sense, to be an habitual criminal. Of course, if a person is suspected
and arrested it is easy to compare his finger-prints with those found
where the crime was committed.

In the system the human liability to err is almost completely
eliminated. A prisoner's prints are registered automatically, and, to
prevent any chance of mistake, are examined and checked by a series of
officials, each of whom signs the record.

Nor do those engaged in this business have an idle time. Between 70,000
and 80,000 sets of prints are dealt with every year. The following list
shows the number of recognitions effected since the system came into
being at Scotland Yard. It must, of course, be remembered that they
have increased as the number of records has grown:--


     1902    1,722
     1903    3,642
     1904    5,155
     1905    6,186
     1906    6,776
     1907    7,701
     1908    9,446
     1909    9,960
     1910   10,848
     1911   10,400
     1912   10,677
     1913   10,607


That, in itself, is a record which justifies the faith now placed in the
system.



CHAPTER IX.

THE SCHOOL OF POLICE.


In the long chain forged for the preservation of law and order in the
metropolis the constable is the chief and, in some ways, the most
important link. The heads of Scotland Yard have to make it certain that
at moments of unexpected strain or heavy stress no link will fail. To
that end every candidate for the Metropolitan Force is rigorously tested
and prepared, physically, morally, and mentally, before he becomes an
accredited member of the service.

For, to vary the simile, the constable is the foundation on which all
the rest is built. Every man in grades right up to the superintendent
has begun at the bottom of the ladder. You will have seen the constable,
placid and unemotional, pacing the streets at the regulation beat of two
and a half miles an hour--do you know how much he has to know before he
is trusted alone on his duty?

He has to be ready to act decisively and firmly at an instant's notice,
to solve on the spur of the moment some intricate problem of public
order, to know the law, so that he may arrest a person on one occasion,
and let him go on another, to act as guide or consultant to the public,
to aid at a fire, or capture a burglar.

He must know everything out of the common that comes in his sphere of
duty, enter the particulars fully in his note-book, and be prepared to
swear to the accuracy of his notes at any time. It would be easy for a
man less carefully selected and trained to make a slip of judgment, to
succumb to a temptation.

It would be futile to pretend that there are twenty thousand plaster
saints in the Metropolitan Police--there are not. Yet, man for man, in
efficiency, in honesty, there is not their equal in the world in any
profession.

The Metropolitan Police is a business body, controlled by business men,
and run on business methods. But it is a specialist business, and so it
has to train its recruits, making sure, first of all, that they are of
the right material.

Before Sir Edward Henry's time a candidate had only to fulfil a medical
qualification and a test of character, and then, after a few weeks'
drill at Wellington Barracks and a few days' watching the procedure in a
police court, he was turned out into the street to get on as best he
could. A veteran detective officer told me how he was treated twenty
years ago.

"I was pretty raw," he said. "I came straight out of a Bedfordshire
village, and was boarded out at a sergeant's house. He put fourteen of
us in a back room with a tiny window, and charged us 14s. 9d. a week out
of our pay of 15s. The food! I should smile. In case we overdid our
eating, meals were never placed on the table until just before we had to
parade at Wellington Barracks for drill.

"Then we were sent to the old Worship Street Court. We were glad enough
at last to get out on the streets for a breath of air with all our
troubles before us. The very first day, I was called on to arrest one
of a gang of men in Whitechapel. His friends had knives, and they
threatened to 'lay me out' if I touched him. I didn't know whether I was
justified, but I drew my truncheon and swore I'd brain the first man who
came near me. But I was in a cold sweat all the time. They didn't coddle
us in those days."

That was the old system. The wonder is that the police did so well. But
now all that is changed. A policeman is prepared for his
responsibilities by a thorough course of training, as scientific in its
way as that of a doctor, a lawyer, or a school teacher.

Instead of going on his beat redolent of the plough, with a thousand
pitfalls before him, the young constable now has a thorough theoretical
acquaintance with his duties before ever he dons a helmet. More than
that, he has been shrewdly observed for weeks to see whether his
temperament is fitted to his calling. If it is not, be he ever so able
in other respects, he is of no use as a police officer.

In a big building, hidden away in a back street at Westminster, the
embryo policeman learns the first principles of his trade. Peel House,
as this school of police is called, was established by the present
Commissioner a few years ago, and since then has trained thousands of
men.

Always there will be found two or three hundred young men gathered
together from the remote corners of the British Isles, being gradually
moulded into shape by a corps of instructors under Superintendent
Gooding.

They have two characteristics in common--a character without flaw, and a
good physique. For the rest, there are all types, with the agricultural
labourer predominating--a country-house footman, an Irishman from some
tiny village near Kilkenny, a sailor, a clerk, a provincial constable
hoping to better himself, and, more raw than the rawest, men from
Devonshire, Yorkshire, Wales and Scotland.

It is said that a _good_ Irishman makes the best officer, while perhaps
the least teachable is the Londoner. A countryman is fresh clay to the
potter's hands, the Londoner has much to unlearn before he can be
taught.

While these men are undergoing their training, they are not
uncomfortable. Peel House has all the comforts and conveniences of a big
hotel and club. Each man has his own cubicle; there are a billiard-room,
a library, gymnasium, shooting gallery, scrupulously kept dining-rooms
and kitchens, and, for the primary purpose of the school, a number of
class-rooms.

Mr. Gooding holds no light responsibility. His duty is to see that no
man leaves the school to be attached to a division who is in the
faintest degree lacking in all that goes to make an officer of the
Metropolitan Police.

Tactful and sympathetic, a shrewd judge of character, able to
discriminate between nervousness and stupidity, a disciplinarian, with a
gift of lucid exposition, an organiser, and a man with a fixed belief in
the honourable nature of his calling. That is Superintendent Gooding,
and his characteristics are reflected in his staff.

As the _corps d'élite_ of the police services of the world, the
Metropolitan Police is careful in the selection of its men. Before a
candidate is admitted to Peel House he must prove that he is of
unblemished good character, be over twenty and under twenty-seven years
of age, stand at least 5 ft. 9 ins. in his bare feet, and be of a strong
constitution, free from any bodily complaint.

Then he is passed on to the school, which will be his home for at least
eight weeks--unless before that time he is shown to be obviously unfit
for the service. There he will work from nine in the morning till
half-past seven at night, learning the thousand and one laws, written
and unwritten, that a policeman has to obey. In cold black and white the
curriculum, of which even a summary would occupy many thousand words,
looks formidable. But so minutely, so lucidly is everything taught that
a man of average intelligence finds no difficulty in grasping it.

Every contingency that a constable may have to face, from dealing with
insecure cellar flaps to the best method of stopping a runaway horse, to
action in cases of riot, and the privileges of Ambassadors is gone into.
Nothing is omitted. And day after day the instructors insist: "Remember,
the honour of the service is in your hands; you are to serve, not to
harass, the public."

That is dwelt upon and reiterated until it is indelibly impressed upon
the memory of the most dull student.

A candidate begins in the fifth class. He is supplied with an official
pocket-book and a thin paper-covered book called "Duty Hints" wherein is
set forth, carefully indexed, a mass of concise information as to laws,
regulations, addresses of hospitals, and so on. Should he ever, when a
fully-fledged constable, be in a difficulty he has but to refer to his
"Duty Hints" to have his course made clear. It is, in fact, a _precis_
of the "Instruction Book," which deals with everything a police officer
should know and be.

He is told the difference between a beat and a fixed point. He is shown
how to make a report, and warned of the perils of making erasures or
tearing leaves from his pocket-book. The unobtrusive marks to be placed
on windows, doors, walls, shutters, and padlocks so that he shall know
if they have been disturbed are made clear to him. He is told what to do
should there be a sudden death in the street, should the roadway
subside, should a street collision occur, should a gas explosion occur,
should he be assaulted. He is initiated into the mysteries of the Dogs
Act, the Highways Act, the Vagrancy Act, the Aliens Act, the Lottery
Act, the Licensing Act, the Larceny Act, the Motor-Car Acts, the
Locomotive Acts, the Children's Act, and others.

Nor is he merely crammed with these things. He has to know them, to be
able to make a plain report, to answer an unexpected question.

As he passes upwards to the first class his instructor reports as to his
progress and prospects of becoming an efficient police officer. It is a
tedious process, this hammering raw countrymen--for most of the
candidates are from the country--into serviceable policemen. Yet it is
worth it.

Very craftily a candidate is instilled with the self-reliance and
confidence so necessary in a police officer. He is not bullied or
badgered. The staff patiently discriminate between nervousness and
stupidity. The ordeal of giving evidence for the first time, for
instance, is feared by a raw countryman, and for that reason a
practical object-lesson is given to the senior classes at Peel House
once a week.

Three of the instructors play the part of shopkeeper, thief, and
constable. Little strain is put on the imagination of the men. They see
everything for themselves, from the actual robbery to the procedure at
police station and police court. In quiet, level tones Mr. Gooding gives
the reason for every action taken. Then the men are called upon, one by
one, to take charge of the case. Mr. Gooding explains:

"Now take hold of your prisoner. No, no, you must not use ju-jitsu
except in self-defence. Take hold of your man firmly, so that he is in
custody. That's it. Bring him to the station. You will let him stand by
the dock and outside. In no circumstances must a person be put in the
dock unless he is violent. Now I am the inspector on duty. What is
this?"

Candidate: "At 2.40 this afternoon, Sir, I was on duty in the Strand,
when I heard loud cries of 'Stop thief!' I saw this man running towards
me, closely followed by prosecutor. I stopped him till prosecutor came
up, who said (referring to official pocket-book): 'This man has stolen a
gent's gold wristlet watch from my shop 1,009 Strand. I wish to charge
him.' The prisoner then said: 'This is monstrous. I really must
protest.' I then took him into custody and brought him here, Sir."

Mr. Gooding (suddenly): "Suppose he had been a well-dressed man and had
said, 'You're a fool, constable, I am Lord So-and-So, and I shall report
you to the Commissioner for this stupid insolence'?"

Candidate: "I should have still brought him to the station, Sir."

Mr. Gooding: "Why did you refer to your pocket-book for what he said?
Couldn't you remember it?"

Candidate: "Yes, Sir, but it is necessary to give the exact words as far
as possible. I am not to put my own construction on what is said."

So the case goes on, with now and again a little lecture in the law of
evidence or the police regulations.

"Remember, the only evidence you may give is as to the prisoner's
actions, your own actions, things said by the prisoner or in the
prisoner's presence--_not_ things heard. In a court you swear to speak
the whole truth--all you know in favour of, as well as against, a
prisoner. It matters not a jot to you whether a man is convicted or
discharged. You are not to judge. Every person whom you have to take
into charge must be considered as innocent, and is innocent in the eyes
of the law, until proved guilty. Don't forget that."

After which the prisoner is searched, makes some remarks, and the charge
sheet is signed. Then there comes another little hint--one of vast
significance in view of the misapprehensions of many of the public of
the police system.

"You must never take your own prisoner to the cells unless directly
ordered to. A constable in reserve will see to that. A man may bear you
ill-will and may assault you in the corridor or he may say that you have
assaulted him. If you only bring him to the station such a charge can be
easily refuted."

It is in this manner that the constable is shown not only the purpose
of the regulations but how easily a little thing may trip him up.

Following the charge-room procedure, the case is brought before a
magistrate. Each man is warned to state exactly what took place. The
evidence is the same as at the station, but, in addition, the result of
the search has to be stated, and what the prisoner said on being
charged.

A great trap this last. Many of the men omit it altogether, and again
and again the importance it might have as bearing on the guilt or
innocence of the accused is pointed out. But always the instructors are
kindly, forbearing, tactful. A man blunders.

"Perhaps you feel a bit nervous," says Mr. Gooding. "Go to the other end
of the room. The rest of the class look this way. Now."

And so the candidate gets through, without the disturbing effect of
twenty or thirty pairs of eyes fixed on him.

I cannot refrain from emphasising the manner in which the relations
between police and public are dealt with during the training--a matter
of greater importance, to my mind, than anything else taught in Peel
House. A course of lectures is interspersed with lessons and drill on,
among others, the following subjects:


     Truthfulness, Civility,
     Command of temper,
     Inquiries by public,
     Complaints by public,
     Constable to readily give his number on request,
     Tact, Discretion, Forbearance,
     Avoidance of slang terms,
     Necessity of cultivating power of observation,
     Liberty of the subject (unnecessary interference, etc.),
     Offences against discipline (drunkenness, drinking on duty, etc.)


To familiarise the men with the surroundings, they are taken sometimes
to a real police court while a magistrate is not sitting, and lectured
on the surroundings. Everything is done with the idea of wearing away
their rough edges, of smoothing the path for them when they should come
to have only their own knowledge to rely on. All that takes place at
Peel House is aimed to that end. There are classes on such subjects as
reading, writing, grammar, composition, the use of maps, drawing plans.
There is foot drill, Swedish drill, revolver practice, and ambulance
classes--all these in addition to an acquaintance with police law and
the routine work of the force.

As they progress they are taken to the Black Museum at Scotland Yard,
where they are given a practical demonstration of the kind of tools
criminals use--from scientific and complicated oxygen and acetylene
apparatus, used to break into safes, to the simple but efficacious
walking-stick to which may be attached a bird-limed piece of wood for
lifting coins off a shelf behind a shop or public-house counter.

So for eight weeks the candidate is taught the manner of work he will
have to perform. He is given every opportunity to prove himself capable,
but at any time he may be courteously told that he is not fitted for the
work; 15 or 20 per cent. of the candidates are rejected for one reason
or another before their term is over.

But, thorough as the training is, no constable is considered fully
qualified when he is drafted from Peel House to a division. Tuition,
both theoretical and practical, still goes on while he is a unit in the
station. He goes out with an older man to see how things are done, to
learn his "beat" or "patrol." There is a class-room at the big police
stations where his education is carried on. For a period too, he must
attend an L.C.C. evening school. And at last he becomes a unit ranked
efficient in the critical and criticised blue-coated army of which he is
a member.[3]

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Peel House during the war has been temporarily converted into a club
for overseas soldiers.



CHAPTER X.

IN A POLICE STATION.


Ten o'clock at night, and the West End.

In a back street a lonely blue lamp twinkled, a symbol of law and order
placed high above the door of the police station. The street itself was
appallingly quiet and gloomy. Yet a few hundred yards away the radiantly
lighted main thoroughfares seethed with thousands of London's pleasure
seekers, and an incessant stream of cabs and motor cars flowed to and
from restaurants and theatres.

Here were men and women in search of pleasure and excitement, and other
men and women on the alert for opportunities of roguery that might
present themselves amid the stir of gaiety. There were the "sad, gay
girls" sitting in the night cafés and strolling the streets.
Pickpockets, beggars, and blackmailers were mingled with the crowds. A
little later and unwise diners would begin to come unsteadily into the
streets.

The West End, as the police know, is always pregnant with possibilities.
And things usually happen after the time I have sketched. A fight, a
robbery, even a murder is always a contingency.

There is a class of men and women who frequent the neighbourhood among
whom passions run high. From a police point of view, it is a difficult
place to handle--a district even more difficult than the East End, for
here the iron hand must be concealed in the velvet glove. Every
officer, from constable to inspector, must be possessed of infinite tact
and firmness. Every man on patrol, point, or beat has usually at least
one delicate decision to make in a night.

Yet the lonely blue lamp shines serenely, and serenely the constable on
reserve duty at the door stands at ease. Within, under the shaded
electric lights, men are at work as quietly and methodically as though
they did not hold the responsibility for the safety of one of the
richest quarters of the richest city in the world in their hands for
eight hours at least. During that time, as a rule, it is the busiest
police station in London.

For all that it has special problems to deal with, this station is
typical in procedure, discipline, and other essentials to nearly two
hundred others scattered over London. There can be no uniformity in the
classes with which the Metropolitan Police has to deal.

For the convenience of visitors and inquirers, a couple of waiting rooms
are provided, a first and second class, so that the respectable citizen
does not find himself in the unpleasant company of a "tough," who may be
a pickpocket come to enquire about a friend's welfare, or a not too
cleanly ticket-of-leave man.

Near by is the inspector's room, a lofty, well-lighted chamber furnished
with high desks, tables, and a variety of official books and papers.
Everyone is quietly busy here, for there are always reports and records
to be made of everything that occurs, of callers, complaints, lost
property, inquirers, charges, particulars of persons reported for
summonses.

Clerks in police officers' uniform bustle to and fro. In an adjoining
room there are telegraphists and telephone operators receiving and
dispatching messages.

There are two telephones--one attached to the ordinary public system,
the other to the private system of the Metropolitan Police. The
telegraphs are a couple of tape machines--one for receiving, the other
for dispatching. Every message is automatically recorded.

A small, quiet room, one side occupied by a couch, and all sorts of
medical and surgical appliances at hand--this is the divisional
surgeon's room. He lives close by and can be on the spot in three
minutes, if necessary, but on busy nights he is at the station.

On the first and second floors are the offices of the superintendent
(for this is the chief station of the division) and the C.I.D. The
detective force is a strong one, composed of men, specially picked--men
of good appearance and address, who have never-ending work in the
district.

Below the ground floor there are open pillared halls with asphalted
floors where the men assemble for parade, and, before they are marched
off under the command of their section-sergeants, have orders and
information read to them. There is a drying-room through which a current
of hot air continually passes, where an officer may place his sodden
clothes after a wet day or night in the street, and a room where the
instruction of young constables is continued under the supervision of a
sergeant after they have been drafted from Peel House.

The personnel of the station is interesting. Apart from the
superintendent and the chief-inspector, who are in control of the whole
division, it is in charge of a sub-divisional inspector, with a dozen or
more other inspectors under him and over three hundred sergeants and
constables.

The bulk of the men are single--it is an expensive district for married
men to find quarters in--and live, not at the station itself, but at a
couple of section-houses some little distance away. There they have
cubicles, where they sleep, big reception rooms, sitting-rooms,
dining-rooms, a canteen, and all the comforts of a club.

With these men a complex game of chess has to be played, varying
according to the ever-changing conditions of the West End, where one day
may see a Suffragette window-smashing campaign, and the next a royal
procession, and the following a riot in a park. To deal with these
occasions a number of depots are available--private houses, garages, and
other places where bodies of police may remain out of sight, but
instantly available.

There have been many fantastic stories told, to which the public lend a
sometimes too ready ear, of what occurs in police stations. Always one
can find some person to assert positively that the police as a body are
bribed by bookmakers or prostitutes--that, in fact, there exists a
practical blackmail. These things were investigated and disproved at a
Royal Commission some years ago. They are pure silliness.

Take the case of the police station with which I am dealing, situated
where it might be supposed there were ample chances of such a thing.
Such a suspicion involves a gigantic conspiracy among more than 300
men. And by the Metropolitan Police system every man promoted is
transferred to another division, so that the rank and file would have to
induce a continually changing series of strangers to connive at their
malpractices. It is on the face of it absurd.

I recall a little story which shows how keen an eye the public has for
the probity of the police. A famous detective had occasion to question a
veteran constable, and took him into a tea-shop to do so. At the close
of the conversation he handed the officer a half-crown. A day or two
later a highly respectable country vicar wrote to Scotland Yard. He had
been having a cup of tea at a certain tea-shop. There he had seen a
constable, Mr. So-and-So, in talk with a suspicious character, and had
seen money pass. Of course, there was an investigation, and it was a
long time before the "suspicious character"--who is one of the
best-dressed men at Scotland Yard--heard the last of it.

Let us see the method of "taking a charge." Prisoners, as they are
brought in, are placed in one of a couple of large rooms, with a low
partition, near the corridor, over which it is impossible for anyone to
see them. There they are kept for a while until the inspector is ready
to take the charge. Presently they are ushered into the charge-room, a
big apartment with a tall desk in the centre, and a substantial steel
structure a few paces away--the dock. But the dock is not used nowadays
except when a person is violent.

The first charge is that of begging, the accused being a boy who looks
17, but says he is 13. The policeman who arrested him stands by his
side, and a reserve man stands at attention a little distance away. The
boy is quite at ease. There is little of the terror of the law here. He
admits that he was begging, his father is on strike, and he hadn't done
well at selling papers.

"Don't be frightened, my lad," says the inspector kindly. "What's your
name? Where do you live?"

The boy hesitates, but at last gives an address.

"He gave me a different address, Sir," says the constable, and the boy
hurriedly protests that he has told the truth now.

"H'm," comments the inspector calmly. "Look here, sonny, you don't want
to stay here all night. You'll have to, you know, if we can't find your
father. Tell us the truth."

The facts elicited, the boy is searched, the main contents of his pocket
are a handful of coppers and a cigarette end.

The inspector picks up the latter. "Do you know it's against the law for
a boy of 13 to have cigarettes? All right. Put him in the detention-room
until his father comes. You'll be charged with begging, my boy."

In an hour the youth is free, his father having entered into
recognisances for his due appearance at the police court.

It should be explained that no person is detained at the police station,
except on a serious charge, who can prove his identity. Often no further
inquiry is necessary than reference to a directory.

The detention-room, too, which is attached to every police station is
intended to spare a respectable person the ignominy of the cells. It is
a comfortably furnished room, with tables and chairs, and sometimes with
a few papers and magazines.

The charges begin to multiply towards midnight. There are several
beggars, one of whom is a dirty, round-shouldered old ragamuffin with a
long, matted beard. He cringes in front of the inspector's desk, and
suddenly his hand flickers upwards with a deft movement. The next
instant he is looking as innocent as though butter would not melt in his
mouth.

There is a sharp "Put that down" from the reserve man, and it is
discovered that a cigarette end taken from the boy has found its way to
his pocket. He curses the keen-eyed officer as he is led away to the
cells.

Then there are the "drunks," some quiet, some riotous, some still in a
torpor, others defiantly asserting that they are perfectly sober. Some
of these latter are seen by the police-divisional-surgeon, who by now is
in the station. The Inspector sifts each case thoroughly, making sure
that there is a _prima facie_ case before allowing the charge to
proceed. It is at his discretion to grant or refuse bail.

It is after one o'clock. A girl is brought in by a constable, pale and
sullen, and with dark eyes a little apprehensive, a little triumphant.
The officer handles a man's jacket carefully. The whole of one sleeve
and one side of the coat is wringing wet--but it is with blood, not with
water. It is a more serious case this--one of attempted murder, which
later developed into one of murder. There was an altercation with a man,
a lover who had abandoned her, and she stabbed him with a pocket knife,
and waited without attempting to escape. An unsavoury, sordid drama, but
it is treated in the same cool, business-like way as the other trivial
charges.

"I only meant to hurt him," says the girl, and she is led away by the
matron. I may as well finish the story here. The man she had stabbed
died in hospital, and she was charged with murder. Eventually she was
found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment.

In the intervals of taking charges, there are other things to be done.
There is a woman half hysterical because her daughter is missing. A
couple of people walk in to hand over a gold match box and a purse found
in the streets. These things have to be entered in official documents
for prompt communication to headquarters.

The tape machine rattles out a report of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth
disease in Surrey, and fresh orders relative to the passage of cattle
through London. This will have to be made known to the reliefs when they
go out.

A constable hurries in with the report that a window in a certain big
business firm's premises is open. A man has been left to guard it.

The inspector is a little impatient. "They're always leaving windows
open," he says, and gives a few instructions. Half a dozen men are sent
out to surround the place, while a search is made for possible burglars.
Of course, there are none. The window has been left open by a careless
clerk, which was what the police knew all along, but they could take no
risks.

Several of the cells are occupied now. There are about a dozen of them
all told. You pass through a locked door from the charge-room into a
wide, stone-flagged corridor, lined on each side with massive doors.
Swing back one of these doors, and you will enter a high pitched room
with a barred window at the farther end, and a broad plank running down
one side, the full length of the cell. This serves either as a seat or a
bed. Washable mattresses and pillows are served out at night-time, and I
can imagine that, if lonely, the cells are not uncomfortable. The doors
lock automatically as they are swung to. There is an electric bell in
each cell which communicates directly with the inspector's room. Thus
the senior officers are made responsible for sending to answer a
prisoner's ring.

Besides these cells there are a couple of large apartments--technically
also cells--where a large number of prisoners may be kept together. They
are often useful when suffrage demonstrators are on the warpath, or
when, say, a gambling raid has taken place. These, like the other cells,
have what their most frequent occupants call "Judas holes"--a small
trapdoor which can be let down from outside to see that all is well
within.

The matron's room also opens into the corridor--a pleasant little
chamber where often women prisoners who cannot be allowed bail, but whom
it is felt should not be placed in a cell, are allowed to sit.

I have said that all the prisoners are searched. This is done thoroughly
with a twofold object--to ensure that no prisoner has means of doing
himself bodily harm, and to discover whether he carries on him anything
bearing on the charge, as, for instance, in a case of picking pockets.
Everything discovered has to be entered with particularity; but although
such things as matches or a knife might be taken from a man, he would
usually be left with his own personal property, watch, keys,
pocket-book, money, and similar things.

Every person having business at a police station is treated with
courtesy, whether prisoner or prosecutor. That is one of the rigid rules
of the service which is rarely neglected. Even the man on duty at the
door is not allowed to ask a caller his business without permission.
That is for a senior officer.

I was much struck by the fair and impartial manner in which the
inspector elicited the facts of a case before accepting a charge. Always
polite, with no leaning to one side or the other, he endeavoured by
careful questioning to elicit whether an arrest had been made on
reasonable grounds. There was no bullying, no taking it for granted,
except in an obvious case of drunkenness, that a charge was proved.

I have, perhaps, not made clear the distinction between reserve men at a
station and reserve men in a division. The latter do ordinary duties,
and are the first called upon in the event of emergencies anywhere in
London. They receive a small sum in addition to their ordinary pay. The
former are men who, instead of doing eight hours' duty in the street, do
it at the station itself, and are available for any sudden contingency
that may present itself within the subdivision.

The personnel of the London police is, as I have indicated, selected and
tested under the most rigorous conditions. No less relentless in the
search for efficiency are the promotion conditions. The Commissioner is
an absolute autocrat so far as promotion is concerned, though, in
practice, he usually acts upon the recommendation of the
superintendents.

A constable, before he is promoted, must serve at least five years--in
practice, the average is eight years--and must then pass two
examinations. One of these is set by the Civil Service Commissioners to
test his education, the other is an examination in police duty before a
board of high officials. Should he be approved then for promotion he is
immediately transferred to another division. These examinations are
carried out at every step in promotion. In the words of a keen American
observer:

"That such a system is successful in bringing to the front the best men
available, that it is carried through without favouritism or political
considerations, that, in its fairness and justice, it has the confidence
of the uniformed force is a splendid commentary not only on the
integrity of the Commissioner and his administrative assistants but on
the stability and sound traditions of the entire department."



CHAPTER XI.

THE RIDDLE DEPARTMENT.


The perpetual solving of riddles is one of the commonplace duties of
Scotland Yard, not only in the C.I.D., but in every branch of the
business. Luck may, and sometimes does, help a detective to solve a
mystery; but luck never helps to quell a riot or maintain order on the
King's highway in times of stress.

It is for such matters as these that they keep a Riddle Department at
headquarters. They call it the Executive Department, but no matter--as
Mark Twain would say. It is there to supply the answers to the
conundrums that are always cropping up in police work.

Everyone in the Metropolitan Police who wants to know anything goes to
the Executive Department. And it does a heavy work by the sheer light of
common-sense and a meticulous organisation which is ready for anything,
for many of its riddles are simply variations of the great one:

"Here are twenty thousand men who must eat and sleep and guard seven
hundred square miles and seven millions of people; how can we
concentrate a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand swiftly into a
particular district to meet an emergency without leaving other places
unguarded?"

An unthankful task. I can imagine that at times subdued but bitter
revilings are heaped upon the head of the department.

You cannot take men from the comparatively pleasant surroundings of the
West End and dump them into Dockland, for instance, without evoking
grumbles. Naturally, every division which is drawn upon thinks it ought
to have been some other division. But discipline and tact do great
things.

Rarely is there any cause for complaint, although the known fact that
the force is undermanned naturally entails hardships on individuals at
times.

Now let me introduce you to the Riddle Department at work. In the
telegraph-room of Scotland Yard one of a cluster of tape machines breaks
into hysterical chatter, and a constable springs to read the message of
the unreeling coil of paper. It is a message from the East End. A riot
has occurred which the local superintendent fears may become greater
than the force at his disposal will be able to cope with.

The constable dashes into an adjacent room with the message, and the
superintendent of the department takes in its import at a glance.

He picks up a typewritten table, and his finger glides to a particular
spot. That table tells him how many men a 5, 10, or 20 per cent. draft
from neighbouring divisions will give.

In another minute he is in consultation with Sir Frederick Wodehouse,
the Assistant Commissioner who controls the department, and possibly
with Sir Edward Henry himself. All three are men used to unhesitating
decisions, and with an intimate knowledge of the force.

A few sharp words and the private wires again begin to get busy. Almost
immediately the reserves from the neighbouring divisions commence to
mobilise, and are poured into the disturbed area as swiftly as means of
communication allow. It is a riddle solved with quiet precision, and no
district is bereft of adequate guardianship. One of the exigencies of
the business has been met.

If the public ever thought about such a feat at all, they would consider
it as something of a miracle. But it is not as spectacular as the
catching of a criminal, and the only persons who call indirect attention
to it are those who would have us believe that great, hulking policemen
have batoned helpless men and women who were, of course, doing nothing,
although broken bottles and stones may litter the thoroughfare where an
affray has taken place.

It is curious this suspicion of the police which sometimes affects
otherwise clear-headed people. You pick out men whose character is
without flaw from their childhood upwards. You put them into a blue
uniform, and lo! their whole personality alters. They are hypocrites and
bullies, bribed by bookmakers and prostitutes, and capable of any sort
of baseness.

Let us return to the Riddle Department. The secret of dealing with such
a happening as I have painted above lies naturally in the organisation.
Every division has a certain number of reserve men--approximately 10 per
cent.

They are picked veterans of not less than eight years' service, who
receive an additional eighteenpence per week, and must always be ready
to carry out special work when called upon. These, then, are first
called out, and other men are taken as occasion demands.

There are other branches of the Metropolitan Police where a mistake
would make havoc in a department or division; here it would affect the
service as a whole.

The Executive Department is as much concerned in the work of every other
part of that complex machine as the engineers of a great ship are in
keeping the vessel moving. Sir Frederick Wodehouse, who is at its head,
in his quarter of a century's service as police administrator--twelve of
which have been spent with the City Police and the remainder at Scotland
Yard--has always been keenly alive to the necessity of keeping pace with
the science of organisation. He has as his right-hand men
Superintendents West and White, who split up the work between them--one
in charge of the Executive Department itself, the other supervising the
Statistical Department.

It will be understood why I call it a Riddle Department when I explain
some of its duties. It is concerned with the discipline and
administration of the force as a whole; the organisation of men when
they have to be used in mass; it controls the public and private
telephone and telegraph service of the force; it compiles statistics on
all sorts of police subjects: it edits and issues "Informations," "The
Inebriates' List," "The Cycle List," "The Pawnbrokers' List," reward
bills, and police notices; it makes traffic regulations; it works with
the Board of Agriculture when cattle disease breaks out; it issues
pedlars' and sweeps' certificates; it keeps a gruesome record--a sort of
photographic morgue--of all dead bodies found in London; and it has to
give its consent before any summons may be taken out by a police
officer.

That is the merest inadequate list of its duties. While other
departments are clean-cut, knowing where their work begins and ends, the
Executive Department has no limit.

Anything that does not properly belong anywhere else goes to the
Executive Department. That is why it specialises in solving riddles.

It is in such a department as this that alertness of mind and elasticity
of resource are developed. When war broke out, it had to spend many
sleepless days and nights in what was practically a redisposition of the
force. Hundreds of the force had enlisted, and innumerable new duties
and problems arose. A system of co-ordination between the immense new
bodies of special constables and the regular force had to be evolved.
Depleted divisions had to be readjusted, men selected for particular
work, a system of co-ordination with the Special Constabulary made, and
a hundred re-arrangements made.

So, when a great procession takes place, as at the Coronation
festivities, the most meticulous organisation is necessary. It seems
simple to order so many men to arrange themselves at so many paces apart
over a certain number of miles. But the problem is much more complex.

First it has to be decided where the men are to come from. Then they
have to be disposed strategically so that no man shall be wasted where
he is not needed; there have to be reserves ready at hand for
emergencies; it has to be decided what streets shall be closed and
when, what streets shall remain open; how a vast number of men shall
obtain food and rest, and so on.

All this without offending an eager populace, thronging the streets
night and day, and without exposing outer London to the risk of
marauders when its guardians are enormously diminished in numbers.

We all know that it has been done, and how cheerfully every man in the
force, from constable to Commissioner, give up leisure and comfort to
carry out the demands made upon them.

But of the long, long planning and scheming we know little. The working
out of draft schemes; the hours spent in conference with superintendents
of divisions; the poring over maps and sectional plans--of this
unceasing labour we never heard, although we accepted its result almost
without comment.

Such work as this goes on whenever there is likely to be a gathering
anywhere in London, be it a boat-race or a Suffragette procession.

A point that is always borne in mind, and which is emphasised in the
"Police Code," is that "traffic should never be closed until the last
moment consistent with public safety, and be re-opened as soon as
possible." Something of the same process goes on when there is a
likelihood of riot and disorder, but in some contingencies it is often
necessary to act immediately, as I have already pointed out.
Nevertheless, in a district where it is known that disorder may break
out the police are usually reinforced beforehand.

The department is responsible for the communications of Scotland Yard.
The telegraphs and telephones are continually at work night and day.
With a few exceptions, every station is linked by wire to headquarters.
Tape machines record every outgoing and incoming message so that a
message is clear and unmistakable. One operator at work at Scotland Yard
can send a message simultaneously to every main station. There is a
private telephone system by which stations can talk with stations and
headquarters without delay, and without fear of secrets being "tapped,"
and the public system is also used.

It is not so very long ago that the only wire communication was by an
antiquated A.B.C. instrument which worked laboriously and slowly, and
such a thing as a telephone was undreamed of.

Then it was a matter of much formality and sometimes intolerable
slowness for a provincial force to get in touch on a matter of urgency.
Now it is merely a question of a trunk call.

This naturally brings me to a consideration of Scotland Yard in a new
and little-known light--as a newspaper office. For daily, weekly, and
evening papers are issued from the big, red-brick building. Some of them
are issued by the Criminal Record Office, some by the Executive
Department. It will be convenient, however, to deal with them in a mass.

They are papers sometimes much more interesting and informative than
those to be procured on the bookstalls, but much gold could not buy one
for a private person.

Best known of all, perhaps, is the _Police Gazette_, a four-page sheet
published on Tuesdays and Fridays, and issued broadcast over the
kingdom. Its correspondents are police officials everywhere. It
publishes photographs occasionally, usually official ones taken in
profile and side-face. It deals with what the newspapers call
"sensations" unsensationally, and its editor is free from that bugbear
of most editors--the fear of a libel action.

The Tuesday edition deals almost entirely with deserters from the Navy
and Army, while Friday's issue is concerned with bigger fry--criminals
and crime. It is an interesting paper with an extensive circulation, and
is, perhaps, more carefully read by those into whose hands it falls than
any other publication, however fascinating.

The official title of what may be called the evening paper is _Printed
Informations_. This is a sheet about foolscap size, and its publication
is confined to the Metropolitan Police. It is printed four times a day,
except on Sundays when it is issued twice, and distributed by brisk
little motor cars among the various stations. Some idea of its contents
may be gathered from the headings: "Wanted for Crime," "In Custody for
Crime," "Property Stolen," "Property Lost or Stolen," "Persons or Bodies
Found," "Persons Missing," "Animals Lost or Stolen."

Apart from these papers, which are purely confidential, there are other
papers issued. There is the "Black List" issued to publicans, with
portraits and descriptions of persons to whom it is an offence to supply
liquor, and the "Pawnbrokers' List and Cycle List," which has to be sent
to those persons to whom stolen property might be offered for pledge or
sale. These latter are distributed from each station by hand.

It is at the Statistical Department that many of the riddles are fired.
It has the record of each man in its files, knows his official
character, his medical history, and so on.

Now and again some one wants to know how many street accidents occurred
in London during a particular week. The department produces a carefully
prepared table showing the number and details in each case.

Figures may be unattractive things, yet at any moment the statistics
collected in that quiet, methodical office may have a direct effect on
any one of London's teeming millions.

When the order went forth that all cyclists in London should carry rear
lights it was probably a string of figures put together in that
department which was responsible--figures which showed the number of
accidents that had been caused in the absence of any such precaution.

It keeps track of everything done by the police, individually and
collectively. Ask how many charges were preferred by the police in one
year. You will learn at once that there were 133,000, that 26,000
summonses were issued by police officers, and 63,000 were served on
behalf of private persons.

There are about three hundred mounted police in the force, and these, as
a whole, come under the control of the department, although at ordinary
times they are attached to divisions.

They used to be attached to the outer divisions, but it was found that
they were too far away when an emergency arose, for, after all, the
mounted man is of most use in controlling unruly crowds. So now they are
with the inner divisions, within easy reach of the most crowded
thoroughfares when needed.

All the men in this branch of the service have been thoroughly trained
in horsemanship, and those who have seen them at work on their adroit
horses, keeping back a mass of pushing, struggling people, or
dexterously dispersing a threatening crowd, know their worth as
maintainers of order.

Both the Executive and Statistical Departments are concerned with
reports which are the basis of all discipline and organisation in the
Metropolitan Police. The first--"The Morning Report"--is compiled by the
superintendents of divisions, and passed and commented upon by the Chief
Constables in charge of districts.

This is London's bill of criminal health. It shows what has happened
beyond the ordinary over seven hundred square miles in the preceding
twenty-four hours. A murder, a riot, a robbery, a fire, a street
collision--all things are recorded. Every police station, it should be
said, keeps an "Occurrence Book" and it is from this that the reports
are compiled.

Then there is the "Morning Report of Crime." This is largely the work of
the divisional detective-inspectors. Every crime for which a person can
be indicted is included here, and an elaborate report of the steps that
have been taken. Comments are made upon this by both the Chief Constable
of the district and the Assistant-Commissioner of the
C.I.D.--commendations, reprimands, suggestions.

The third report is the "Morning State," which deals with matters of
internal administration of the force itself--numbers available,
disciplinary matters, affairs of health.

All these reports ultimately reach the departments for record and for
the transmission of orders.



CHAPTER XII.

THE SAILOR POLICE.


Fantastic reflections dappled the Pool of London--reflections from the
riding lights of ships at anchor, and the brighter glare of the lamps of
the bridges. They danced eerily on the swift-running waters of the
river, intensifying the gloom of the black waters. Here and there the
darker blur marked where a line of barges was moored.

The police-boat, its motor chug-chugging noisily, slipped
unostentatiously behind one of the tiers of lighters. To my untrained
eyes it was incredible that in the labyrinth of craft, amid the
darkness, we should be able to pick our way. Yet deftly, unerringly, the
inspector moved the tiller, while two constables kept keen eyes on the
motley assembly of vessels.

A barge was swinging across the stream with two men at the sweeps. The
tide caught it, and it dropped heavily down on us while we were trying
to steal a passage athwart another vessel. The launch was caught between
the two, and it seemed inevitable that our boat should crack like an
egg-shell. With my heart in my mouth, I prepared to jump. But with swift
precision the constables acted. Holding tight to the gunwale they forced
our boat over sideways, and we sidled through at an angle of forty-five
degrees into open water.

I looked for an expression of relief, but the men had calmly resumed
their seats. The escape had been a matter of course to them, and they
laughed when I spoke of it as an escape. For the men of the Thames
Police take things as philosophically as sailors. It was all in the
day's work to them.

Since then I have seen much of the men and methods of the force which
guards the great highway of London. They have heavy duties to perform,
and, from the rank and file to the superintendent, are adequately fitted
for their work. The histories of some of those who wear the blue jacket
with the word "Thames" on the collar, and the peaked cap with the anchor
badge, would make enthralling reading.

There is Divisional Detective-Inspector Helden, who probably knows more
of the ways of the waterside thieves than any man living. He is a
linguist, as are many of his staff--a qualification much necessary in
dealing with the cosmopolitan crews of ships plying to and from the Port
of London.

There is an inspector who has saved three lives--a fact none the less
noteworthy in that he holds the quaint superstition that all the
troubles of those people will accumulate on his own unfortunate head.
There is a bronzed, brown-moustached station-sergeant who had been
around the world before he was twelve, and who has had strange
adventures in every quarter of the globe. There are men drawn from the
Navy--and now serving again--the mercantile marine, and river craft.

All have an intimate knowledge of that thirty-five mile stretch of river
which passes through London from Teddington to Dartford Creek.

They know every eddy, every trick and twist of the tide; they know on
any given day what boats are on the river, be they barges or liners; and
they know the men who work them.

The force is under the control of Superintendent Mann, who has had a
varied experience of many years, and has brought a ripe knowledge of men
and organisation to his work.

There are five stations--at Wapping, Waterloo Pier, Barnes, Blackwall,
and Erith--with a complement of 240 men, fourteen launches and motor
boats, as well as row-boats. The division possesses its own engineers
and carpenters, and does its own building and repairs.

Now-a-days, men are only drafted to the division after serving for a
time in the ordinary land force, but the rule has only been in force of
late years, and consequently most of the men have spent their whole
police career on the river.

A different thing this to land work. In the whole thirty-five miles
there are only five "sections." These are patrolled by series of boats
putting off at different hours. For eight hours they ply to and fro,
keenly vigilant, courteous as their colleagues in the West End, as
helpful and resourceful in an emergency as men of the Navy. Sometimes a
barge gets adrift. It has to be boarded and towed to safe moorings.

Some of these barges have valuable cargoes--tobacco, silk, and what
not--and the incredible carelessness of the owners in not always
providing a watchman presses hardly on the police, who may, perhaps,
have to spend a whole night in looking after some single craft. There
was a case in which a barge broke adrift with £20,000 worth of goods
aboard.

"Oh, that would have been all right," said the owner off-handedly, when
told that it had been safely looked after. "It would have come to no
harm."

Not a word of thanks. And that attitude is a typical one.

The patrol-boats beat to and fro, each with two men and a sergeant, in
all weathers, amid blinding sleet and snow in the winter, fog in
November, and more pleasantly on summer nights. Eyes are strained
through the darkness at the long tiers of barges, ears are alert to
catch the click of oars in rowlocks. They know who has lawful occasion
to be abroad at such times.

Occasionally the sergeant hails some boat. He can usually identify the
voice of the man who replies, but should he fail to do so, the
police-boat slips nearer. A stranger or a suspicious character is
invited to give an account of himself. Should he not be able to do so
satisfactorily, he is towed along to the nearest police station until
inquiries have been made.

Sometimes, not often, when a man, who on the river corresponds to the
sneak thief ashore, is caught red-handed stealing rope or metal or
ships' oddments there is resistance. But always the police win. They
know the game. A hand-to-hand struggle in a swaying boat, even a fall
overboard with a desperate prisoner, does not concern them greatly.

"You see," explained a veteran to me, "if you fall out while you've got
hold of a man it's ten to one that he tries to get his breath as he goes
under. That makes matters worse for him. All you do is to hold your
breath, and let him wear himself out. He's usually quiet enough when you
come up again." Of course, every man in the division is an expert
swimmer.

There are other tricks of boatcraft in such a case which all
river-police officers know. The flashing of a light is an equivalent of
a police-whistle ashore, and will bring the assistance of any
police-boat in sight.

At the floating police-station at Waterloo Pier a dingey is always in
readiness to put off to rescue would-be suicides who fling themselves
from the "bridge of sighs." In the little station itself there is a
bathroom with hot water always ready, and every man in the division is
trained to the Schafer method of resuscitation of the apparently
drowned.

A still more grim side of the work is the finding of dead bodies. The
average number is somewhere around a hundred a year. Most of these are
suicides, a few accidents.

The duties of the patrols are to keep vigil over the river and its
banks. There are other patrols at work for the Customs and the Port of
London Authority, who see that the revenue is not defrauded, and that
the traffic regulations are kept. But this does not free the police from
all responsibility in these matters. Here are a few of the things they
have to do:--


     Secure drifting barges and inform owner,

     Detect smuggling, illegal ship-building or illegal fitting out for
     service in a foreign State,

     Report damaged cargoes or food, and offences against the Port of
     London Authority's bye-laws,

     Arrest any drunken person navigating a boat,

     Detect cases of navigation without sufficient free-board below
     Battersea Bridge,

     Search all suspicious-looking craft,

     Inform harbour-master of vessel sunk or dangerous wreckage adrift,

     Report wrecks to Lloyd's.


There is more--much more. For instance, all manner of craft have to be
watched to see that they do not carry more passengers than their licence
permits, that obstruction is not caused by mooring across public stairs,
that more than the fixed fare is not demanded by watermen, that no boat
is navigated for hire without a licence, and so on.

Detective-Inspector Helden and his staff of the Criminal Investigation
Department of the division are the most dreaded enemies of the river
thieves. Time was, when the "light-horsemen" of the river were in their
heyday, that £25,000 worth of property was stolen annually. That has
been reduced to less than a couple of hundred pounds--a comparatively
trivial, insignificant figure.

It is to both branches of the river police that those who use the river
owe this complete immunity from theft. Every man of the C.I.D. in the
division has a complete knowledge of thieves and receivers on whom it is
necessary to maintain constant surveillance. Marine store dealers and
old metal dealers are kept in close touch, for it is to them that the
odds and ends of ship equipment might be taken by a dishonest sailor or
watchman.

One of the most famous of river thieves was a man whom the public knew
as "Slippery Jack." He made a rich harvest until he was laid by the
heels. Almost naked, and his skin greased lavishly, he would slip aboard
likely-looking craft in search of plunder. If he were disturbed, he
would dodge away, his greased skin aiding him if anyone attempted to
seize him. He was tracked down one evening to Blackfriars, where he
backed his boat into midstream and turned at bay with a vicious
sheath-knife. Only after a fierce struggle, in which the police did not
escape scot free, was he arrested. His exploits cost him ten years'
penal servitude.

It was the detective branch of the Thames Police that solved the
complicated mystery of a supposed case of murder which attracted much
public attention at the time. The full facts have never been made
public, and may be interesting.

In August, 1897, the body of a naked man was found floating near the
Tower Bridge. A line was woven tightly round the body, arms and neck,
and a doctor stated that the body must have been in the water about
three weeks, that death was due to strangulation, and that he thought it
impossible for the man to have tied the rope round himself, though it
must have been tied before death.

A woman identified the body as that of her husband, Von Veltheim--he who
shot Woolf Joel in Johannesburg and was later sentenced at the Old
Bailey for the blackmail of Mr. Solly Joel--and a jury brought in a
verdict that "death was caused by strangulation whether amounting to
murder the evidence fails to show."

Here were all the elements of the mystery that might have puzzled
Sherlock Holmes. The detectives began to puzzle it out. They were all
watermen, and knew, what the doctor had apparently overlooked, that a
body will often swell after prolonged immersion in water. Although the
rope was woven tightly about the body there was only one actual knot.
They came to a directly opposite conclusion to the doctor--that the rope
had somehow enwound itself round the man after he was in the water, and
that the swelling of the body had tightened it. They began to make
enquiries. Soon they discovered that a seamen named John Duncan had
vanished from the ship _Thames_, moored at Carron Wharf, near Tower
Bridge. Also a piece of "throw line" similar to that twisted round the
body was missing. Also that Duncan, the last time he was seen alive, had
declared his intention of taking a bathe. These facts made it easy for
the sailor police to reconstruct the tragedy.

Duncan was unable to swim. He attached one end of the rope round his
chest and fastened the other end to the ship. Then he had slipped
overboard among the piles of the wharf. By some means the end of the
rope in the ship became detached. Duncan struggled to save himself and
the rope became entangled about him. That was the solution of what
seemed a baffling problem.

The men of the division receive the same pay as men ashore, but they are
a class entirely apart. On land, men are transferred from division to
division as they are promoted, or as occasion demands. On the river this
system does not apply in practice. Most of the men spend their whole
police career on the water, for it takes so long to make the complete
police officer of the Thames Division, and a man once trained is too
valuable to be used for other work.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE BLACK MUSEUM.


Outside Scotland Yard they call it the "Black Museum"; within, it is
simply the "Museum"--a private museum the like of which exists nowhere
else in the world. Money cannot purchase access to it, and curious
visitors are only admitted on orders signed by senior executive
officials who know them personally. For the museum contains too many of
the secrets of crime to be a wholesome place for the general public,
although the indiscriminate publicity that it has suffered in print has
made it appear to be a kind of gratuitous show-place. If that were its
only purpose, it would not exist at Scotland Yard.

It was originally established, some forty years ago, in a cellar of Old
Scotland Yard, as a place where young police officers might get an
elementary acquaintance of the ways and appliances of evil-doers.

Gradually relics of great crimes began to accumulate there until there
are now over six hundred exhibits, ranging over the whole gamut of
criminal activity. There is much, perhaps too much, to appeal to the
morbid-minded--revolvers by the score, wicked-looking blood-stained
knives, hangmen's ropes, plaster casts of murderers taken after death;
but more interesting are the tools and equipment of the professional
thief and swindler, by which demonstrations are made to raw policemen
of the weapons with which his adversaries wage their war upon society.

In one case it is an innocent-looking ring, now palpably tarnished
brass. But examine it, and you will find that it bears a tolerable
imitation of an eighteen-carat hall-mark. When it was fine and bright it
was picked up in the street, very ostentatiously, by an astute gentleman
who promptly sold it for as much as he could get from a passer-by, who
had probably thought it a bargain when he noticed the forged hall-mark.
That same trick flourishes to-day, as it flourished over a century ago
when Sir John Fielding issued a warning to the public.

Close by are a little heap of white sapphires, calculated at one time,
with their glitter and dazzle when set as "diamond" rings, to deceive
all but the most sophisticated of pawnbrokers. Similarly so,
"field-glasses" stamped with the names of famous makers. These are
little things, perhaps, but they give the most trusting of young
constables some ideas of "ways that are dark and tricks that are vain."

Publicans and pawnbrokers seem to be the invariable victims of a certain
type of swindler. There is a walking-stick, innocent enough to all
appearance, but with a tong-like attachment which, at the touch of a
spring, will jump out of the ferrule, enabling a wineglass full of coins
to be lifted from a shelf across the counter.

A glazed black bag with hinged bottom, which may be placed over any
article and automatically swallow it is another ingenious invention.

All these, however, are byways of crime. There is much more to be
absorbed by the learner in police science. Here he is shown the
different types of jemmies, and bars of steel so fashioned that they may
be used as chisels or levers. Here are bunches of skeleton keys which,
in the hands of experts, will open any ordinary lock in the world. A
massive steel implement shaped like a gigantic tin-opener, and used to
rip open the backs of safes, is another item in the collection. There
are vice-like tweezers which, when properly screwed up, will cut quietly
through the bolts of, say, a jeweller's shutters.

Still more scientific is a complicated apparatus with tubes in which
oxygen and acetylene gas are used to melt through safes with a fierce
heat--a quieter, less clumsy, and more effective method than the use of
explosives.

It would take more space than is at my command to detail all the
practical instruction which is afforded by the object lessons the young
constable has in the museum. Not only is he initiated into wrinkles and
tricks which he may meet any day, but he is shown into those more subtle
branches of crime which few but specialists enter.

Coining is a case in point. There is a complete coiner's outfit--which,
for obvious reasons, I shall not describe--and the process is explained
from A to Z. Now-a-days the "smasher" is a difficult individual to
circumvent. He works preferably with real silver, and with coins like
sixpences and shillings which are not so closely scrutinised as those of
higher denominations. Of course, even in a genuine sixpence the silver
is not worth its face value.

A step higher in the criminal hierarchy is the forger. Of his
handicraft, specimens are not lacking. There are relics seized when a
notorious forger went into forced seclusion for ten years some time ago.
He manufactured Bank of France thousand-franc notes and foreign bonds,
and even used lithographic stones to imitate the water-mark. Photography
played an important part in his operations.

I have shown, sketchily perhaps, how the primary function of the museum
is carried out. But it has another and allied interest of great
importance to all interested in police science.

One may study the stages by which the professional criminal has adapted
the work of invention to his ends, and mark at the same time how the
swindler always strikes the same old chord of credulity in human nature.

Dropped in one of the corners is a heavy bar of brass, originally in the
possession of an early gold-brick swindler. Mr. Albert Blair Hunter, of
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A., communicated with two gentlemen in this
country, stating that a wealthy relative had died possessed of
considerable property, among which was a box of gold from Klondike,
value £12,000. For various plausible reasons he was willing to dispose
of it to them for £2,000. The good, simple-minded souls went to New
York, and handed solid English money to that amount over to Mr. Albert
Blair Hunter, of Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A. For what? A bar of brass
worth perhaps twenty shillings sterling.

Gambling swindles are numerous, seized for the most part on
race-courses. A little tee-to-tum, marked with dice faces, can be
manipulated so as to fall high or low, according to the betting,
irrespective of the person who holds it, so long as he does not know the
secret. There is a board with a dial face and a pointer on a print. The
luckless "punters" cannot tell that it is controlled by a magnetic ring.
Into these mysteries the police are initiated.

The policy of education at the museum is a wise one, for many young
constables, whatever their natural abilities, come fresh to London from
the plough, and no more reliable method of destroying a too trustful
faith in appearances could have been devised than this which shows them
the actual equipment of criminals.

I have deliberately avoided giving too close a description of these
things. Nor have I in any way given a complete description of the
museum.

The mere manuscript catalogue occupies two portly volumes. Each of the
relics contains a story in itself,--a story that has often ended in a
shameful death. To recall them would be beyond the scope of this book.



CHAPTER XIV.

PUBLIC CARRIAGES.


"Keep very still, please. Thank you."

A constable replaced the cap on the lens of a big camera, and with a
sigh of relief a man rose from the chair where he had been seated under
a cardboard number. It was the photograph-room of Scotland Yard, through
which every cab-, omnibus-, and tram-driver, and every conductor has to
pass once in three years. "The Yard" is as careful with a cabman on
licence as with a convict on licence, although for different reasons.
But the chief idea is the same--the safety and comfort of the public.

There are thousands of dossiers stored in the vaults, which give a
complete history of each man holding a licence in connection with a
public vehicle--records of warnings, convictions, medical tests, and so
on. Officially stamped photographs are placed on every document which
passes into a man's possession, so that there can never be cases of
personation, such as I believe have happened many years ago.

It is no mean work that is performed by the Public Carriage Department,
although it is done quietly, smoothly, and for the most part out of
sight of the public. Not a cab, omnibus, or tramway car that plies for
hire in the metropolis--and they average about 16,000 a year--but has
passed stringent tests by experts, and this applies equally to the men
in charge.

Every human precaution that years of experience can suggest is taken to
guard against the passing on the streets of any man or vehicle that
might be a nuisance or a danger in congested traffic. Rigid regulations,
numbering forty in the case of taxicabs, and sixty-two in the case of
motor omnibuses, insist upon details as far apart as adequate brakes and
freedom from noise.

We speak about the perils of the street; but they would be increased,
perhaps tenfold, but for the unobtrusive care of the Public Carriage
Department.

There are other detectives at Scotland Yard than those of the Criminal
Investigation Department--detectives, that is, in all but name--for the
control and supervision of traffic does not end with the issue of an
annual licence.

There are fifty skilled men dotted about London, all holding
certificates of proficiency in motor engineering, who exercise a
constant surveillance. Quick of eye and keen of hearing, they keep
unceasing watch on all public vehicles. An unusual sound as a motor
omnibus passes may tell them something is wrong with the engine.
Thereafter the proprietors are warned not to use the car until the
defect has been remedied. Or they may station themselves unexpectedly at
the gate of a garage, and test the brakes and steering gear of every car
that passes in or out.

That this is no mere formality is shown by the fact that on one morning
an officer stopped no fewer than forty taxicabs from going on the
streets. Indeed, during the last year for which figures are available
officers of the department reported 35,123 vehicles as unfit for use. In
some it was merely a question of noise or a trifling fault easily
remedied. In others the trouble might easily have caused a bad accident.
The principle acted upon throughout the department is that prevention is
better than cure.

Whenever a car of a new type is devised, be it a cab, an omnibus, or a
tramway car, Scotland Yard examines it, and, if necessary, calls in a
consulting expert for advice.

Should the type be suitable, similar vehicles are afterwards examined by
local staffs of the department--there are twelve of these in London--and
a certificate presented by the maker that there has been no variation in
the type.

In the early days of motor omnibuses complaints in shoals were received
by Scotland Yard from tradesmen, private individuals, borough councils,
and others as to the frightful noises made by them when running.

That resulted in the establishment of a committee of high executive
officials for the testing of every motor omnibus in respect of noise
before it is licensed.

Pass through Great Derby Street into New Scotland Yard any day after ten
o'clock, and you will find always a number of men clustered about a low
building and in the little square. They are drawn from all types and
classes, and all are candidates hopeful of obtaining their licences.

A would-be taxi-driver--an "original" he is technically termed--has to
be clean in dress and person and not under five feet in height. Two
householders who have known him personally for three years must give
him a good character. A doctor is required to certify that he does not
suffer from any ailment, that he is sufficiently active, that he does
not smoke or drink excessively, and that he is fitted for his duties by
temperament. After this he will be permitted to undergo examinations in
fitness and knowledge of driving. It is a tight-meshed net through which
an incompetent would find it hard to pass.

But it is the topographical examination that undoes most of the
"originals." I went through a couple of large waiting-rooms; hanging on
the walls of one was a slip of paper with the name of one man. "There
were twelve yesterday," said my guide; "he was the only one to get
through."

And then he told me something of the history of the man whose name was
hanging solitary on the wall. It was not an altogether unusual one in
that building. The candidate, a University man, had been in possession
of an income of about £1,500 a year. He had been neither reckless nor
extravagant, but suddenly, at the age of forty, with no trade or
profession in his hands, he had seen his fortune lost. So he had taken
his place among the "originals" and had started in the world anew as the
driver of a taxicab.

At the end of the waiting-room there are two little apartments, each
containing one table and a chair; there the "originals" are examined in
topography, _viva voce_, one at a time. Now, it is sometimes asserted
that trick questions are put to candidates. That is not so. There are
twenty-five lists officially laid down, each of eighteen questions, and
one of these lists the candidate has to answer.

Here are typical routes which a candidate has to describe:--


     St. James's Park Railway Station to Baker Street Railway Station,

     Clapham Junction to Brixton Theatre,

     Hop Exchange to Royal Exchange.


The names are sometimes varied. For instance, the second might be "from
the South-Western Police Court to Lambeth Town Hall," or the third
"London Bridge Station to the Mansion House." But in each case the route
is practically the same. Thus a complaint of unfairness can be checked
by reference to the record kept by the examiner of the list he used.

Some of the men present themselves again and again. In 1913, of 676
"originals" only 366 passed, yet there were 6,339 separate examinations.

Omnibus drivers and ex-horse-cab drivers do not have to pass this
topographical test. But all alike have to undergo a driving test of the
type of vehicle for which a licence is required.

First of all, there is a preliminary examination in the yard, so that an
examiner is not called upon to risk life and limb--to say nothing of
those of the public--before he is sure that the candidate has at least a
rudimentary knowledge of driving.

Afterwards, there is a more complete test under the difficult conditions
of the West End. Should a man fail at his first test, he is not allowed
to appear again for fourteen days; if at his second, he is put back for
a month; at his third, for two months. His failure at his fourth and
final examination is inexorable. Ex-horse-cab drivers are allowed two
extra tests. A fee of a half-crown is payable for each of the last two
tests.

The necessity of these precautions is evident when it is considered what
harm might be done by an ignorant, careless, dishonest, or short-sighted
driver, yet I have come to the conclusion that when a cabman gets his
licence he has earned it. But the Public Carriage Department has first
of all to consider the safety of the public.

I have tried to make clear some of the work that devolves upon the
staff. But that is by no means all. Now and again a warning has to be
issued to drivers and proprietors on some particular subject. Here is a
typical one:


                           SPECIAL NOTICE.

     "In view of the number of accidents in the streets of the
     Metropolis, and of the numerous complaints of the public as to the
     reckless driving of certain drivers of public vehicles, the
     Commissioner of Police gives notice that every case of conviction
     for dangerous and reckless driving will entail serious
     consequences, and the renewal of the drivers' licences may be
     imperilled.

     "Repeated convictions for exceeding the speed limit by drivers of
     public vehicles will be considered to constitute evidence of
     reckless driving."


Such hints bring home to drivers a remembrance that their livelihood
depends upon their good conduct. They never know when they may be under
surveillance, and they know that every time they transgress it is
entered in the records, which are scrutinised when an application comes
for a renewal of licence. Nearly 200 licences were cancelled or recalled
in 1913.

There is a Committee of Appeal at Scotland Yard, to which most cases of
this kind are referred, so that no man is deprived of his licence
without a fair hearing and reasonable cause. This committee heard no
fewer than 1,648 cases during 1913.

Some of us may recall painful memories of the early days of taxicabs,
when taximeters were not altogether above suspicion, and deft
manipulation with a hatpin or some other jugglery was possible, by which
fares and cab-owners were defrauded.

Those days have passed. A taximeter when it has once been sealed by
Scotland Yard is now a sternly conscientious instrument, with a regard
for the truth that might shame George Washington. There is a separate
register of taximeters kept cross-indexed to cabs, so that the number of
the latter is all that is necessary to reveal the record of a particular
taximeter.

Eight different kinds of badges are issued, varying in colour. Thus an
officer can tell at a glance who holds a conductor's licence, who has a
horse-cab licence and who a taxi-cab licence. In a few cases composite
badges are allowed, by which a man may act either as driver or
conductor, or as driver of a horse or motor vehicle.

All men of the department are police officers, but they are something
more. They are living directories of London and its suburbs from Colney
Heath, Herts, to Todworth Heath, Surrey, from Lark Hall, Essex, to
Staines Moor, Middlesex; they are skilful engineers; they have a keen
eye for the defects and qualities of a horse; they can drive a horse or
a motor car, they know the conditions of traffic in Piccadilly Circus or
in the deserted roads about Croydon.

Above all, and in this they are again police officers, they have a very
sure appreciation of human nature. They do not harass those with whom
they are concerned unnecessarily, but whether it is the London County
Council, a powerful omnibus corporation, or an unlucky hansom driver,
they act impartially, without fear or favour.

Outside their own province they have nothing to do with crime, though it
sometimes happens that their records are useful to other departments of
Scotland Yard. In reality, the actual police functions of the Public
Carriage Department are few, and for this reason there are people who
hold that it should be entirely separated from the force. The argument
is a forcible one, yet it is not complete.

Time was when all licences were issued from Somerset House. But even
then the police were asked to carry out certain enquiry work. It has
been suggested that the London County Council should take it over. But
the London County Council is not an impartial body in regard to public
carriages. It owns tramway cars which are run in opposition to motor
omnibuses. A Traffic Board for London might solve the difficulty.

But, however plausible such theoretical reasons for separating this work
from the police may sound, one thing is certain. The duties could not be
more efficiently performed than they are at present. A perfect system
has been devised by which not only are the perils of the street
minimised for pedestrians, but the comfort and convenience of all who
travel by public vehicles are ensured, whether it be the millionaire in
a taxi, or the factory hand in a workman's tramway car.

The Public Carriage Department has learnt its business. It has grown up
with the growth of motor traction. It knows the tricks of the trade, and
those who would throw dust in its eyes must needs be ingenious. To hand
over its duties to an outside body would result, at any rate for a time,
in something like chaos.



CHAPTER XV.

LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED.


This is the legend of the lost centipede that once held undisputed sway
of the Lost Property Office at Scotland Yard before it came to an
untimely end. It arrived with a cab-driver, housed in a little tin box,
comfortably lined and pierced with air-holes. Casually an official
opened the box, caught one glimpse of its contents, and jumped for
safety while the centipede pleased at the opportunity of stretching its
multitude of legs, cantered incontinently for the shelter of a pile of
lost articles.

But even a centipede cannot defy Scotland Yard with impunity. The forces
of the law rallied, and, headed by an intrepid inspector with a fire
shovel, eventually tracked down the insect--or should it be animal?--and
placed him under arrest.

Trial and execution followed summarily, and the honest cab-driver went
empty away.

The Lost Property Office is not, as is popularly supposed, a general
depository for all articles found in London. It receives only things
found in public carriages--tramway cars, omnibuses, and cabs. Other
articles are dealt with by the police in the divisions where they happen
to be found. But, even as it is, it keeps a large staff busy month in,
month out.

In the basement of Scotland Yard there are many rooms filled with
articles varying from a navvy's pickaxe to costly jewels. Take an
example of one year's working of the department. There were 90,214
articles deposited. Here is a rough classification of things dealt with
in one year:


     Bags                     9,340
     Men's clothing           6,749
     Women's clothing         7,942
     Jewellery                2,395
     Opera Glasses              723
     Purses                   4,340
     Rugs                       273
     Sticks                   2,134
     Umbrellas               35,319
     Watches                    451
     Miscellaneous articles  20,548


Of each of these things a minute record is taken before it is stored in
one of the large rooms, with barred windows, in the basement. Umbrellas,
sticks, and bags, for instance, are classified, each under half a dozen
or more heads, and the card index with different coloured cards for
various months, enables an article to be discovered instantly. Articles
to the value of £39,859 were restored to their owners.

Suppose you left an umbrella in a cab on June 16th, enquiry at Scotland
Yard would enable it to be picked out at once, if it had reached them.
You describe it as having a curved handle, mounted with imitation
silver. At once an official turns to the blue cards in the index. Under
"umbrellas" he turns to the subdivision W.M.C., which, being
interpreted, means "white metal crook handle," and your umbrella is
handed back to you. But you do not get it for nothing. There is a reward
to pay to the cabman. In the case of an umbrella, or such small article,
your own suggestion will be probably adopted, but on most things the
scale fixed for gold, jewellery, and bank notes applies. This is, up to
£10, 3s. in the £, and over that sum an amount to be fixed by the
Commissioner.

The rewards paid out annually form no inconsiderable sum. Recently
figures have not been published, but an idea can be obtained from those
given a year or so ago. Then 32,238 drivers and conductors shared
between them nearly £5,000. One lucky cabman got £100; six received
between £20 and £100.

These rewards are mostly for articles claimed, which numbered 31,338 of
the declared value of £31,560, out of 73,721. The rest, with a few
exceptions, were returned to the finders after an interval of three
months. This return to cabmen and conductors is an act of grace--not a
right. In some cases where a thing is of value, and remains unclaimed,
it is sold, and a percentage of the proceeds given to the finder.

While I was in the office a black cat strolled leisurely out from behind
one of the crowded sacks, and rubbed itself against the knee of one of
the officials. "Left in a tram car," he explained. "We had a tortoise,
some gold fish, and a canary a few days ago, but they have been claimed.
It was suggested that we might save space by having the cat look after
the fish and the canary, but we did not think it advisable."

Almost any kind of a shop might be stocked with the loot of the Lost
Property Office. There are false teeth, books, golf clubs, pickaxes,
snuff-boxes, and ladies' stoles, stuffed fish, and wax flowers, petrol,
and motor tyres, boots, and watch-chains, every conceivable kind of
portable property that an absent-minded person might forget.

Each month's articles are kept separate, so that at the end of three
months unclaimed things can be dealt with. A great safe swallows up all
articles of jewellery or money of the value of £1 or more. I have seen a
cabman hand over the counter an exquisite pearl worth several hundred
pounds. It was examined, and then carefully sealed and placed in the
safe. Constant handling of these things has made the officials quick and
accurate judges of their value.

The authorities are not content to merely look after articles until they
are claimed. Every effort is made to trace the losers, and a large
clerical staff is constantly at work sending out letters where the
property is marked or identifiable in any way, or where a cabman has
remembered the address to which he has carried the supposed losers. More
than 40,000 letters are sent out annually in such cases, and there are,
in addition, something like 50,000 written enquiries to answer in a
year.

This alone will show something of the monstrous business with which the
officials have to deal. There is, of course, a constant stream of
enquirers at the two offices, one at each side of the great red-brick
building. One of these offices receives lost articles, the other
restores them. Intermediately there are the vast store-rooms through
which the accumulations progress every month, till in the third month
all unclaimed things are ready to hand in the "outgoing" office.

Nothing but a well-organised system could avoid confusion, and confusion
there is none. It is all part of a great business conducted on business
principles. Every article, every farthing of money is recorded, with
the circumstances under which it found its way to the Lost Property
Office and its description, so that of the scores of thousands of things
which pass through the hands of the officials, a ready history of each
one can be quickly referred to.

There are queer visitors sometimes--persons who make preposterous claims
for something they may have heard has been lost. These are firmly but
effectively dealt with. On the other hand, sometimes articles of value
are never claimed solely for the reason that their owners have no wish
to make known their movements or whereabouts on a particular day.

Now and again the authorities find it necessary to remind people of the
existence of the Lost Property Office. The following advertisement is
typical of those inserted in daily newspapers periodically:


     "METROPOLITAN POLICE.--Found in public carriages and deposited with
     police during June and July, numerous articles, including a bank
     note, a purse containing cash, a bracelet set stones, and a purse
     containing a bank note. Application for property lost in public
     carriages should be made personally, or by letter, to the Lost
     Property Office, New Scotland Yard, S.W. Office hours, 10 a.m. to
     4 p.m."


Once every three months articles that have been unclaimed are sold by
auction. The average proceeds of these sales are about £60, which is
handed over to the Board of Inland Revenue. The Metropolitan Police
receive no benefit from the vast machinery they keep in motion to guard
the public from its own carelessness.

I cannot do better than conclude this chapter with the advice proffered
to all those who use public vehicles: "The very great majority of
articles deposited have been left _inside_ cabs. Hirers, therefore,
might with advantage make it a rule not to pay and discharge the cab
before they are satisfied that nothing is left in the cab."


PRINTED BY HAMPTONS LTD., 12, 13, AND 19, CURSITOR STREET, LONDON, E.C.





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