How much did the CID improve investigative policing in the years 1880-1950? - History Essay Example

The CID was set up in 1842, to help aid the work of investigative police - How much did the CID improve investigative policing in the years 1880-1950? introduction. However, only during the years c1880-c1950, did they really make an impact. The CID improved investigative policing by a fair amount, although this improvement was mainly due to the development in other factors, such as technology. Technology played a big part in the work of the CID. During the time period of 1888, there was limited ways to catch the killer; they had to rely on catching the murderer by catching them in the act or finding a witness who had seen what happened.

This method was unreliable but when developments in technology were introduced, it helped in the detection of crime. During the case of ‘Dr Crippen’, they used the Marconi wireless invention of the telegraph. “And was caught following the world’s first use of the telegraph to intercept a fugitive at sea”. (12) The usage of the telegram ensured that Dr Crippen was caught. This made the CID effective as they were able to catch the murderer of Cora Crippen. In addition, if there wasn’t a development in technology then perhaps Dr Crippen would have got away.


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Another use of technology was in the ‘Whitechapel Murders’. When Mary Kelly was killed, detectives took photographs of her at the scene. This shows that technology was improving, as was the detection of crimes as the CID was then able to infer from those photographs, therefore improving investigative techniques. Although photography was used, Mary Kelly was the only victim to have been photographed; therefore this indicates that the importance of photographing the scene “had not been fully understood at the time”.

Along with technology, communication was also a crucial part of detection. Communication between the CID and the police was vital. Without communication between the two forces, no improvement in detection could be made. A key example of this was during Jack the Ripper murders. “I have to suggest that our CID should be in more constant communication with yours about the W[hitechapel] murders”. (4) This quote suggests that during the killings, there was little contact between the CID and the Police.

As a result of this, the CID hardly improved investigative policing as if there is no communication then nothing would be solved. Having said that, developments in technology meant that later on in the 1900’s, communication would have improved by a vast amount. Therefore, the CID would have improved investigative policing aswell. One more example of a lack of communication is again during the Whitechapel murders, after Mary Ann Kelly was killed.

The CID was trying to identify blood, but as there was a lack of technology they were unable to correctly recognize the blood, so they had relied on animals. Not knowing that the useless animals, Imposed on the CID by the baying press, had long since-been sent back to their owner”. (9) There was deficient communication between the CID and the owners of the dogs; this meant that the CID had wasted valuable time on waiting around due to the fact that they weren’t informed. This indicates that the CID didn’t really improve investigative policing by much, as they were wasting very important time on pointless things.

Although, if there was more of a development in technology, then the CID would have had more impact as they wouldn’t have wasted time as the technology would be there to assist the detection. Another key feature the CID needed was to have good organisation within the force itself and whilst detecting crimes. Organisation is essential to any task. The CID was fairly good at organising themselves, however there were times when their organisation was terrible. During the detection of Jack the Ripper, the CID were not organised at all.

Their key figure, Dr Robert Anderson, was not present or active during the time of the investigation. “Now found themselves leaderless as the Jack the Ripper crimes escalated”. (8) From this you can infer that the CID were not organised at all as their leader decided to go on holiday at the wrong time; leading to the failure of detection. In addition, this then shows that they did not really improve investigative policing as they hardly had any form of direction. Another thing that happened during ‘Jack the Ripper’ was that vital evidence was washed off. Has it erased before the photographer arrived”. (10)

This proves that the CID were not at all on the ball, as well as organised because they let such an important piece of evidence wash away; which could’ve been very significant to the investigation. In this investigation, the CID were not helping massively with investigating, although in comparison to before, the techniques had improved; this was mainly because of the development in technology. A positive example of good organisation was during the ‘Dr Crippen’ case, which the CID managed to solve.

The CID worked effectively, and were organised throughout the investigation, therefore this led to the success of the detection. This shows that the CID did improve investigative policing as they managed to resolve the murder of Cora Crippen. Though, this was only possible because of the Marconi wireless, which then meant that technology influenced what happened. During the Dr Crippen case, the use of forensics was also showcased. Forensics is using science and technology to solve crimes; a technique that was developed later on in detection.

There are many examples of the CID using forensics; one example is during the murder of Rachel Dobkins. “The broken bone in the throat suggested that Rachel Dobkin had been strangled”. (13) From this, you can learn that by using forensics and pathology, they were able to determine the cause of death. This was very fundamental information for the CID, which then meant they were able to solve the case; making them improve investigative policing. A further example is the Browne and Kennedy case.

They used forensics to identify and match marks to a case. “Found to be the very same one which had caused the peculiar mark of the cartridge case”. (14) This indicates that because of forensics, the CID was able to catch Browne and Kennedy. Although it was forensics that played a bit part, if it wasn’t for the development in technology first, then they wouldn’t have been able to do so. As methods of forensic science developed, crime detection by the CID became more effective; this improved investigative policing by quite a bit.

Another factor that improved investigative policing alongside the CID was the use of media, and public perception. The media played a big role in developing the CID. At the start, when the CID was set up in 1842, it was not seen as a positive thing. The Home Office was concerned that detectives would become too friendly with criminals, and become corrupt. “The individual detectives who worked for the department were severely demoralised”. (7) This shows that the public were being quite hateful towards the CID, as they weren’t successful in the start up.

This then proves that they didn’t really improve investigative policing, as people were unhappy with their work. Although the public were not too happy, the media was quite helpful in using its status to benefit the CID. They aided the CID by putting images into newspapers, which then led to the catching of the killer. (11) This demonstrates that the media helped the CID to improve investigative policing. Although the improvement only managed to happen as there was a development in technology, as without this progression, the media would be incapable to do such a thing; which assisted the CID.

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