Liverpool Mercury, June 29th, 1857
Chapter X1V, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
"Where lives the man who has not tried
How Mirth can into Folly glide -
And Folly into Sin?"
The traveller, we are told, thanked God when he beheld a gibbet, for the evidence which it afforded that he had at length reached a "civilised" country, and it serves to dash our pride when we reflect on the sad picture which modern society presents, when with all our boasted progress, we behold such a dense mass of poverty, ignorance, growing up side by side with the cheering evidences elsewhere of increasing affluence, knowledge and refinement. Society has indeed, a skeleton at its feast, and what we are to do with our dangerous and criminal classes forms the leading problem of the day. The reader of these sketches has been afforded a glimpse of some of the vicious pleasures, practices and pastimes which prevail in Liverpool, we now take a step further and look at the worst and most poisonous of the fruits, at the bridewells and gaols, the state of crime in the borough, the police force, its duties and organisation, the evil doer at his home and haunts, and to trace him from the moment of his capture, to the bridewell, thence to the police court, and finally through the gaol.
Staring the giant evil in the face, our first course will be to look at the appalling figures which show the extent and character of crime within the borough, and this we are enabled to do by a glance at the valuable reports which it is the duty of the head constable to lay annually before the town council. In the first 9 months of 1856 there were 19,336 apprehensions, assuming the state of crime to be the same in the last three months, the total number of apprehensions for the year would be 25,781. To the 9 months ending September last the total number of arrests made were 11,310 males, 8026 females. The catalogue included 2 murders, 2 attempts to murder and 12 manslaughters. 185 were stabbing cases, this has become a crime of terrible frequency. This is not owing as may be popularly supposed by the number of foreigners frequenting the port, whose national instrument of offence or defence is the knife, as 40 were born in Liverpool, 25 in other parts of England, 83 in Ireland, 8 in Scotland, Wales or the Isle of Man and 29 only from foreign countries. There were 30 indecent assaults, with 7 attempts to commit rape, and 1870 assaults, 730 of them on police officers whilst in the execution of their duty. Of robberies by prostitutes there were 667 cases, wilful exposure of the person 407, pocket picking 232, and robberies with violence 129. Cases of drunkenness for nearly a half of the total number of charges. The numbers were, drunk and disorderly 6732, drunk and incapable, and so booked for safety 2628.
Of the total number of apprehensions in the 9 months, 36 were boys and 11 girls under 10 years of age, 95 boys and 41 girls from 10 to 12, 495 boys and 188 girls from 12 to 15, 1116 boys and 707 girls from 15 to 18, 2384 boys and 1780 girls from 18 to 21, and 7184 adult males and 5299 women 21 years and upwards. There could read and write well only 581, 8009 could read and write imperfectly, 1360 could only read and 9386, nearly half of the entire number, could neither read nor write. We must not, pay Liverpool the bad compliment of supposing that the vat mass of crime has been generated here, ready access from all parts of the empire, the great landing place of Irish immigrants, and with ships crowding the port from every country on the globe, Liverpool has a larger floating population than any other town in the kingdom. There are local causes which induce crime, a very large proportion of the labouring population, such as dock porters, are entirely dependant on the arrival of ships for their subsistence, their employment in its very nature is irregular and subject to periods of depression. There is the temptation to juvenile theft presented by our long line of open and exposed quay space, with the prey which so many strangers and emigrants afford to the landsharks and swindlers of every kind whom their presence calls into existence. But the greater cause of all is the fact that Liverpool have a floating population of seamen continually passing through the port to the number of upwards of 30,000. So far back as 1852, there were 28,307 seamen frequenting the port, exclusive of those in the coasting trade. Jack is not always discriminating in his expenditure, and his improvidence calls into existence and sustains certain other of the most vicious classes into the community. An easterly wind prevailing for a week will carry off from 10,000 to 15,000 seamen, a westerly wind, in a day or two cast that number on our shore with relinquished pockets, and the bridewells which had been doing a slack "business" speedily become filled again. In like manner a rainy night, by keeping the criminal classes at home, leads to an empty dock in the morning. A cutting east wind is more efficient still, it drives the professional thieves and vagabonds from their favourite lounging and watching places at street corners, a soft westerly breeze comes freighted with a saddening amount of crime.
Having a direct connection with the criminal statistics, we show the figures of the number of public, beer and coffee houses in the town, we cannot overlook the apparently reckless manner in which magistrates have proceeded in the extension of licenses in the lower neighbourhoods of the town. A well-educated man, or one accustomed to the proprieties and amenities of social life, who should indulge in the wine-cup to excess, would be simply an exhibition of folly, but a rough and ignorant labourer, inflamed by fire-water, is a raging demon, and it is wise that he should have no undue facilities for his debasing indulgence. The contrary rule has appeared to have prevailed with our local bench in the granting of licenses, not far from the bridewell in Vauxhall Rd, 27 public houses and beerhouses can be seen and counted, several of them next door but one, if not actually next door to each other. From a return we find that the number of public houses at present in the borough is 1445, of which 66 are known to be irregularly conducted, 15 of which have bagatelle tables, and 13 "music" with the beer. The number of coffee houses 195, 33 of which are reported as irregular, and some are known in fact to be disreputable houses of the worst and vilest kind. Last year 20 new public house licenses were granted, and only 3 recalled. Turning to the darker phase of Liverpool life, the number of known brothels in the town is not less than 714, and the vile dens known as "houses of accommodation" number 84. The number of known prostitutes is 2318, being an increase of 123 over the number in 1855.
We now look at the power which we have to cope with our criminal classes, the state of the police force in the borough, what their strength and organisation are, their morale, and what good they actually accomplish in the prevention and detection of crime. We shall go with them on parade, accompany them on patrol, behold with our own eyes the class of characters with whom they have to deal. We shall not spare to censure should we find occasion calls for it, and if they are entitled to praise, their position is one of such hardship and peril that they are entitled to all the morale support which the respectable part of the community can give. An unpopular body are the police, it has always been so, yet they form an army to check the barbarism which would otherwise spring up in our midst, it is to their watchfulness that we owe the blessing of lying down each night in security and peace. It is true they cannot succeed in the entire eradication of crime, but, they repress at least the grosser manifestations of vice, who would not admit that our cities are models of order and propriety compared with what they were some twenty or thirty years ago.
Many will recollect the period when Liverpool had no police force worthy of the name, when the safety of the town and its inhabitants was in the custody of some 30 or 40 old watchmen, who were a terror to nobody, an amusement to mischievously disposed lads. These venerable Dogberries, as they rise up now before the mind, appear more like a memory of the medieval ages than an institution actually in existence in modern times. We see them in the mind's eye now, muffled up in their grey coats, rattle in one hand, lantern in the other, a truncheon in the pocket, and parading with slow steps, the dirty and dimly lighted streets [for we had no gas then] and crying out the hour and state of the weather, "Half-past twelve, and a fine frosty morning" The cry serving to acquaint thieves of their particular whereabouts, but, in any case, depredators had little to fear, for the poor old fellows where very infirm and somehow or other generally lame. They dozed the greater part of the night in their little sentry boxes. In the eyes of the juvenile there was something very dread in that awful symbol of majesty the truncheon, with a large crown emblazoned on it, and the letters "G. R," but to plague and thrash the "trusty guardians of the night" was the chivalric feat of the fast young men of that age, to bonnet them and steal their lanterns was a piece of wit, to knock them down, house and all, a more exquisite joke still. Gangs of disorderly fellows would frequently take possession of the town for hours together, insulting every well-dressed person they met. In Liverpool, the "roughs" amongst the ship-carpenters were resistless then, and throughout England the disorderly were only kept in check by frequent appeals to the bayonets of the soldiery.
The police force of Liverpool under the elements of the present system of organisation was first called in existence after the passage of the Municipal Reform Act in 1836, its strength then consisting of 390 men, being 1 policeman to every 631 of the population, the following year it increased to 585 men. A further gradual increase took place till 1849, and the numbers from that time remained stationary, with an occasional tendency to decline, notwithstanding the rapid increase in population, till last year when the force consisted of 906 men. The council have just voted an addition of 50 officers, so that the future strength of the force will consist of 956 men, 1 policeman to every 466 of the population.
Liverpool Mercury, July 6th, 1857
Chapter XV, of Liverpool Life
"Move on" Such was the stern command of the inexorable officer who ever and anon dogged the footsteps of "Poor Joe." Dickens, with his fine susceptibilities, could sympathise only in the troubles of the wretched vagrant, who moved on indeed until the grave gave him a shelter from persecution, and a long repose. But there are two figures in the graphic street picture which Dickens in his "Bleak House" has drawn, and perhaps not the least interesting is the policeman himself - kind-hearted, probably, but apparently so stern - who gives the order to "move on."
Few persons can be aware of the multifarious duties which modern police in our large cities have to perform. The mere detection of crime and the arrest of criminals form but part of their total occupation. They are largely engaged in a multitude of labours having for their object the peace, safety, health, comfort, and good order of the town. Briarean indeed are the arms of the humblest ministers of justice now. If on duty at the docks they have special instructions to see that there are no undue obstructions on the quays, that goods do not lie there unwarehoused for a longer time than is permitted by the law, that no fights of fires be kindled on board of vessels in certain docks, that a proper tide watch is kept night and day on board every vessel there, that goods are not left exposed and unwatched, to keep an eye on those troublesome classes, the carters, cab-drivers, to prevent porters who are unlicensed from acting in that capacity, they have to assist the revenue officers in the prevention and detection of smuggling, and to be especially vigilant in the prevention of frauds by the swarms of land-sharks and runners who often so cruelly victimise some of the thousands of emigrants continually pouring through the port.
If on duty in the town. besides the primary attention which must be given to the conservation of good order, they are required to see that all public-houses and beerhouses close at the proper time, and to report them if conducted in a disorderly manner, if prostitutes are harboured, or if glaring drunkenness is permitted. They are to see to the removal of all obstructions to traffic in the streets, to report all nuisances which exist upon their walks, to see the cellar grids are fast, that no chimneys be set on fire to save the cost of a sweep, to make periodical visits to lodging houses and cellars, to see that no excavation be left without protection or proper signal of danger, that water is nowhere run to waste, that the public lamps are in good order, and that they are duly lighted at the appointed minute. They are not enrolled, so far as we know, as members of the Humane Society, but they are certainly expected to do the work of that organisation. Everything likely to occasion an accident, whether it be an awkward projection or a piece of defective flagging, has immediately to be reported, and they have also to being all cases before the magistrates of cruelty to animals, whether that cruelty consist in working a horse with a sore shoulder, whipping him mercilessly, or putting upon him a greater load than he can bear. They have to see that no dogs run at large in the month when, according to the old popular superstition, the canine race are more likely than any other period to go mad. Maidservants who will endanger their necks in cleaning their windows by sitting outside are perhaps quite aware that they are "under the eye of the police."
The principle of paternal government is carried so far that they must adopt for the time all children lost upon the streets, and that this particular duty is no sinecure may perhaps be inferred from the fact that in the first nine months of last year, 680 children found wandering the streets were restored by their agency to their parents. They have to assist at fires, suppress vagrancy, to see that non perish from pure destitution. They have to be ever foremost in procuring prompt medical aid in all cases of accident upon the streets, their tyranny is such that they will not even allow a poor wretch to drown himself without fishing him out. Time would fail us to tell a tithe of the duties involved in the routine of a policeman's life, or the good, which he in a single day is able to accomplish.
For police purposes the town is divided into two divisions, north and south. The dividing line for the docks is George's Basin, that for the town runs up Water St, along Dale St, Shaw's Brow, London Rd, Prescot St, and Kensington, all upon the left hand being in the north division, upon the right in the south. The force is subdivided into a number of sections of 15 men each, over each of which an Inspector is placed. The ordinary "duty" of each division, north and south, consists of 12 sections, and 3 subdivisions of 4 sections each. It being necessary for the night duty to be stronger than that of the day, 8 of these sections in each division are always on from 9pm, from 5am in summer and 6am in winter. The other 4 sections perform what is known as the evening and day duty, which is divided into 5 different spells of service, commencing at 6am and terminating at 9pm. The day duty has also three sub-divisions proper reinforced by two sections of irregular strength. One of these consists of men selected for their excellent conduct and their general knowledge and experience, who are posted at particular points in the principal thoroughfares, for instance one man will perform the exclusive duty of watching say Fontenoy St alone, and the arrangement has many advantages as he thus becomes personally acquainted with every resident, and knows a thief or suspected character by face intimately.
The second auxiliary force is a patrol sent out at 10 forenoon to traverse in a prescribed route the principal thoroughfares, and lend their services wherever required. There is likewise a special warehouse patrol, which goes on duty at 6pm each evening and retires at 3am. This force, which consists at present of 18 men, was first established at a period when there had been many destructive fires amongst this class of property, not without suspicion of their being the work of incendiaries, and the duty of these men is to see that all the doors of the warehouses are fast, and that the buildings are otherwise safe. Two or three hours suffice for this purpose, and at 9pm they are drafted as an additional strength into the most disorderly parts of the town, where they patrol till 3am.
The management of the police force of such extent as that of Liverpool is necessarily a complex piece of machinery, indeed a science in itself, before we can understand the arrangements of the force we must look more closely and familiarly at the ordinary routine of a policeman's life, otherwise, for instance, the general statement which we make, that he is out two nights consecutively, and only each third night at home, can never be tightly understood. Taking a single officer and placing him on town duty. If in the south division, he assembles with others at the Seel St station, if in the north, at the Rose Hill station at 8.45pm he goes out at 9pm and continues on duty until 5 or 6am as the season may be. He then has to re-appear at the station from which he set out, when he is formerly dismissed until evening. He again musters at 8.45pm and the hours of duty on the second night are the same as the first. The afternoon of the third day he goes on at 3pm and remains till relieved at 9pm, the third night is then his own. Next morning he goes on at 6am and remains till 10 forenoon, at 8.45pm that evening his routine of night duty commences and continues as before. When we take into account the time occupied in going to and from the station to his home, it will be seen that the ordinary duties of an officer are somewhat heavy and oppressive, to say nothing of the extra attendance which extra ordinary occasions demand.
The duty at the docks as a general rules is lighter, more popular and pleasant. The men go on in a system of three relief's, from 8am to 5pm, 5pm to midnight, and midnight to 8am the following morning. The day duty at the docks requires a larger number of men, from the fact that business is carried on there during the day, the reverse being that in the town, where the night duty is double that of the day. Speaking of the present force [before the additional men granted by the council has been made] 120 men go on for the first period of the day, 90 from 5pm till midnight, and 90 more take the night duty. Each officer keeps the same watch in respect to time for 3 days consecutively, so that he is only out all night 3 nights out of 9. There is no uniform rule respecting the men to be sent upon dock service, and they are by occasional changes made to feel and understand that they are liable to be called off at any moment to serve in the town. Sometimes, if a man's conduct is not satisfactory, he is thus subjected to a transfer. Others are selected because they are excellent officers and be more of service in the town. Occasionally an officer whose health is frail is sent on dock duty, in hopes that the sea air and greater rest will do him good. A further, and principal, motive for these transfers is, that the officers and men of the whole force may become thoroughly acquainted with their duties, and be able to act efficiently either at the docks or in the town. The number of men doing duty at the docks is 314, in proportion of 1 to every 88 yards of lineal quay space. Of this number 60 are firemen, who when on duty attend all fires in and along the line of docks and streets contiguous, when off duty they attend all fires in any part of the borough. On Sundays when there is no work at the docks, and on particular occasions, a portion of the men are brought up for duty in the town. In the case of Parliamentary elections and riots the whole force has been withdrawn from the docks, leaving them in charge of the dock-gatemen, who number 201, and are sworn in as constables. There are also 204 custom-house officers patrolling the quays, in three relief's, who, besides performing their distinctive duties, are a great protection to the property there, and frequently of service to the police. The dock committee pay about 17,000 pounds per annum for the police employed about the docks.
The uninitiated might think that an idle duty which the warehouse patrol have to perform, in seeing that the warehouses are locked up and properly secured, and such may be surprised when we inform them that, taking all buildings together, the police last year found in the town not less than 1465 doors open, showing a wide-spread carelessness, in the majority of cases, on the part of servants, of their employers property and goods. 321 of these were dwelling houses, 368 shops, 269 warehouses, 202 yards and sheds, 17 churches and chapels.
The authorised strength of the Liverpool constabulary force is now, before the addition, 906 men, but it is not to be supposed that all these are available for outdoor duty. About 95 are required for the detective department, the head constable's office, the main and district bridewells, the clothing department etc, leaving 497 for duty in the town, and 314 for duty along the line of docks. This number is further reduced by the attendance of officers at the police court, the daily average being 39 to prove information's, and 64 upon felonies, misdemeanours, etc. The bridewell keepers answer for all the drunk and safety cases. There is also a daily average of absentees, from hurts, sickness, leave and other causes, of 53 officers and men.
The watch committee is the supreme body, and the staff consist of Major GREIG, the head constable, two divisional superintendents, Messers QUICK and RIDE, Mr CLOUGH, indoor superintendent and head of the detective department, 6 ordinary superintendents [three in each division] Mr HEWITT, the superintendent of the fire brigade, Mr BURTON, the governor of the main bridewell, 44 Inspectors, 12 clerks, 31 bridewell keepers, 17 detective officers, 100 constables of the 1st class, 600 of the 2nd class, and 70 of the 3rd class. The wages of the ordinary constables are 20s per week, from which 6d is deducted for the superannuation fund, 1st class constables get 22s and bridewell keepers 27s. There are two of these at each of the district bridewells, one of whom lives on the premises, and is consequently rent free, with coals and gas. Inspectors get 33s per week, the 6 inferior superintendents about 3 pound each. Such of the force who are firemen as well get 1s per week more than the ordinary constables, the wages of those of the 1st class being 23s, of the 2nd, 21s per week. Considering the perils which policemen run, and the peculiarly exacting and arduous character of the duties which they have to perform, it certainly cannot be said that they are an overpaid class of men. It is of the utmost importance to the public interests that good and effective men should have every inducement to continue in the service, and this is one of the cases in which liberality can never be misapplied.
Space and scope preclude more than a mere passing notice of those two important branches of the service, the fire brigade and detective department. The former consists of 123 men, and of their present efficiency and the improved facilities now at their disposal we have constant and satisfactory proof in the rarity of serious fires at the present day, and the promptitude with which, when the danger of conflagration appears, it is met and overcome. Taking the last eleven years, the yearly average of fires within the borough is a fraction more than 127, the average amount of property destroyed,43,696 pounds, and the average amount of property saved, 246,842 pounds. In addition to the central station in Temple Court, there are now 10 district fire stations, at each of which there are two firemen and a turncock constantly on duty. At all of these, reel and hose are kept in readiness for use at a moments notice, and there are also ladders kept as fire escapes. 6 engines are kept at the central station, 3 at the north end of the Prince's Dock, 2 in Lightbody St, and 1 in Prescot St. The latter being on such elevated ground is advantageously placed for being instantly run to any fire on the outskirts of the town or other scene of danger. Nothing can excel the admirable management of this useful branch of the police service.
No one will fail to recognise and acknowledge the extraordinary aid to justice which is continually being rendered by the detective force. These shrewd individuals appear to know thieves by intuition, and to have added by their peculiar training almost a new faculty to the human mind. Some of their achievements in unravelling a complicated web of villainy from the smallest possible thread of evidence read more like a chapter of romance than a result of reason, each member has his peculiar forte. One excels in his knowledge of warehouse robberies and of those likely to be engaged in them, "megsmen" are the intimates of others, whilst all can "spot" a swell mobsman at once without the smallest possibility of mistake. Look at these detective officers as they pass you in the street, what an air of simplicity they put on ! How abstracted ! They are not looking at anybody, not they, indeed, and yet not a single person passes without a keen inspection from those apparently inverted eyes. Sometimes they certainly have great facilities afforded to them for the detection of offenders, and it must be admitted that the vicious, who are always cowardly, tell of one another to an extent which would scarcely be credited. There is but little truth in the adage of "Honour among thieves."
Liverpool Mercury, July 13th, 1857
Chapter XV, of Liverpool Life
When a constable is first appointed, and before entering upon his duties, there is placed in his hands a "Book of Instructions," consisting of a most admirable and comprehensive digest of all our local laws, with very clear directions how to perform his duty with efficiency in case of any of a thousand exigencies which may arise. It contains instructions on not less than 700 or 800 points. Fancy the look of despair with which a young officer will regard the task which he has undertaken, when he first casts his eyes over its varied pages. An officer must be able to read and write well, he has to keep a memorandum book in which he has to enter every event of the least interest which he may learn, or of which he may be a witness in his daily and nightly rounds. From time to time he also has official reports to make, and the ability with which he discharges this part of his duty is often taken as a fair test of his capacity. Every officer of the Liverpool force must possess a fair average amount of intelligence, natural or acquired. All applications for admission to the police force are made to the head constable in the writing of the applicant, accompanied by testimonials as to intelligence and character, and those are deemed ineligible who may have been dismissed from any other public service for misconduct. No person is admitted under 22 or above 35 years of age, nor less than 5ft 8inches in height. It is to this restriction no doubt that we owe the fine physical appearance of the men and their general attitude and bearing give evidence of the improvement effected within the past few years by the semi-military training which they have to undergo. The appointment of new officers takes place every Thursday and the merits of the candidates alone determine the section. No letter is opened, until the fitness of the applicant is determined upon by the head constable. The selection made, the candidate has to be duly examined and certified by the surgeon, be sworn in and then supplied with a uniform. Consisting of greatcoat, oilskin cape, a coat, two pairs of trousers, two pairs of boots, a hat, and two pairs of gloves. The greatcoat and cape are expected to serve him for two years, the other articles are supplied annually. Thus equipped, and with truncheon, whistle and rattle in hand, he is not, at once placed upon active duty, but it first entered into a probationary class, where he continues for a fortnight or so, to acquire the rudiments of his new business, and if he shows ordinary smartness and ability he is then reported as fit to take duty in a section. While on probation young officers attend the police court every day to make themselves familiar with the mode of giving evidence, to hear the observations of the magistrates and to gather information bearing upon their duty. The book of instructions is read and explained to them, and they are drilled for one hour each day at the station house. To give them a practical knowledge of their future duty, they are sent from 9pm to 12 every night, in company of an experienced and well conducted constable, to patrol the principal thoroughfares. Extra constables or supernumeries are of the 3rd class, and get 18s a week only.
Police duty, implies a perfection of discipline in the men themselves which at first is very irksome, and we cannot wonder at the numbers who leave after a very short trial. Not 1 out of 10 taken on is kept for 2 years, not 1 out of a 1,000, 10 years. As one superintendent remarked, "the men must first learn to control themselves before they can attempt to control others." To succeed they have practically to conquer themselves. The force in its time has numbered in its ranks many who have seen better days, and who have been possessed of even classical attainments, but, as a general rule the men are taken from a class of unskilled labourers, not noted for regular or provident habits, their temptations peculiarly great. Shivering with cold they have to perform their periodical rounds in the bleakest nights of winter, they see bright lights in the public houses and hear the roar of merriment within, but are prohibited from even tasting liquor while upon their duty. So, if not from inclination, they are perforce sober, one consequence of this strictness of discipline, is that the force has a resistless moral power in the discharge of its onerous duties. The men are all mustered upon parade before going out each time on their assigned duty, when relieved they have to again muster at the station house and be formally dismissed, so that each many on going and returning from duty passes under the close personal scrutiny of the superintendent. He is also visited on his beat at irregular periods by an inspector, it is utterly impossible that he can be guilty of any vicious indulgence without being immediately detected. When any constable is charged by a superior officer as being the worse for liquor or drunk, he shall, if he thinks himself wrongfully reported, have the privilege of going to the nearest bridewell to take the opinion of the bridewell keeper on the matter, who notes the circumstances in his memorandum book, and if his opinion is different from the officer making the charge, the accused constable has then, the further privilege of showing himself to the superintendent on duty.
A policeman has no holiday like another man, his duties are most active on occasions of public rejoicing, nor, as "sin has no Sabbath" can he spend Sunday like others in the bosom of his family. His life is not exempt from personal peril, and the result is an admirable esprit de corps, which renders the force doubly powerful in any combined operation. It is sad to read of the savage assaults which are continually being made on the officers by drunken and brutal wretches, women in these assaults being the worst of all, and many of the poor fellows in the simple execution of their duty, receive injuries which, apparently not serious at first, yet induce lingering suffering, with too often a fatal termination. The danger, however, is scarcely so great as formerly. The time was when no single officer would venture down particular streets, but the vicious have to a great extent been cowed and got under, and the sight of a single blue uniform will generally send the disorderly in a flight into their houses.
With all these restrictions and drawbacks, however, the life of a policeman is not without its charms when men have once been thoroughly disciplined and broken in, it would be sad if any life were. Notwithstanding that so many leave the force or are dismissed during the first few months, there are many very old officers, and the average length of service of the men now composing of the force may be stated to a fraction over six years. Provided eligible parties are present, all promotions up to the superintendents, take place from the ranks, and a good deserving officer may look forward with a fair degree of confidence to the almost certainty of advancement. The superannuation fund, for which the men are indebted to the untiring energy of Mr J. A. TOBIN, when chairman of the watch committee, will also have an excellent effect in inducing experienced officers to remain in the service. Considering the small amount of contribution, the advantages offered by the fund are considerable. When any member retires from service the committee may grant him an annual allowance according to the following scale:-
After a faithful and diligent service of 15 years, a sum not more than one half, nor less than three eighths of his pay, after service of 20 years, a sum not more than two thirds, nor less than one half of his pay, provided he is not under 52 years of age, if below the rank of superintendent, and 55 years if of or above that rank. There are also provisions for relief in other cases.
Major GREIG has twice called the attention of the authorities to the advisability of providing "section houses" after the model of those in London and other places. Places of residence for the men, whence they could be summoned and get together immediately in case of any great emergency, it is hoped it will receive from the council a favourable consideration, for it owes very great advantage and recommendation. Although it is one of the conditions of the service that the men may be forced to reside within a certain distance of their parade station, it is not a rule that is arbitrarily enforced, and coming in hungry and wearied, many having a considerable distance to go before reaching home to rest and refresh before a further resumption of duty Involving so much night attendance, in every kind of weather, with broken periods of rest, for in the case of the apprehension of a prisoner at night the apprehender has to appear against him at the police court the following morning, the life of an officer is one sufficiently trying to the health, and it is the interest and the duty of those entrusted with the management of the force to take every step for the comfort of the men and the amelioration of their condition. Let a servant see that he has the sympathy and confidence of his employer, and from that moment he becomes doubly zealous and efficient.
Each officer has a certain number of streets specially confided to his care and watchfulness, his "beat", the biggest and best men are invariably sent into the worst neighbourhoods. In understanding the system we take two officers acting in conjunction, having met for night duty in the principal or most disorderly thoroughfare abutting on their respective walks, they stay together till about 11pm, then one remains in the main thoroughfare while the other goes his round, and he is expected to traverse it within half an hour. That time expired he takes his station in the principal street, where he remains the second half hour, whilst the other, knowing the time, and without any necessity of communication with him, sets off on his own beat which he accomplishes in like time, and this system of rotation goes on till 1am.. By a system so punctual and methodical, an inspector can tell almost the precise spot where an officer can be found. At 1am the main street is abandoned, so far as special watching is concerned, both men from that period confine themselves to a constant traverse of their rounds till the time of relief arrives, when other officers take their place, and they are released from duty. It would be idle to say that the present system of police management may not be capable of improvement, but the further we have carried the investigation, the more we have been astonished at the perfection and completeness of its details, it has not been without a certain feeling of delight, which we hope the reader has shared, that we have employed ourselves in tracing out, step by step for the popular understanding, the elements of that admirable organisation which makes the police of Liverpool, THE MODEL FORCE OF THE KINGDOM. The police in the discharge of their disagreeable duties are often brought into unpleasant collision with the interests of others, they may not always be so forbearing in temper as they ought to be, and we rejoice rather than otherwise at the jealousy with which anything like an indiscreet exercise or abuse of their power is regarded, and the sternness by which it is punished by the magistrates or watch committee. Still, who can have gone thus far without feeling that the men, with whatever else they may have to contend, should at least be largely sustained by the sympathy, countenance, and moral support of every respectable member of society? Perhaps the most common complaint against the police is that "they are never present when wanted" that their coat is indeed an "invisible blue" and in the excitement attendant on a robbery, quarrel, or other violent outrage in the street, unless an officer should immediately appear on the scene, such a feeling is quite natural. But still, what proportion will these cases bear to the thousands of others in which they actually appear the moment that there is any sufficient intimation of the danger ? But still, what proportion will these cases bear to the thousands of others in which they actually appear the moment there is any sufficient intimation of the danger! We are assured in 9 out of 10 of such cases the temporary absence of the officer can be accounted for by him being engaged in carrying some other prisoner to the bridewell. An officer is allowed no time for undue loitering, he must visit every part of his walk within the appointed time, delaying only for the purpose of watching the conduct of any suspected character. Nor does his absence with a prisoner at bridewell necessarily leave the part of the town which he has left altogether unprotected, for his instructions are that when under the necessity of leaving his walk he must if practicable give notice to the men on the adjoining walks of his being about to quit, so that they may divide the care of the walk between them until his return.
Many of the orders under which the police act are necessarily of an unpopular character, and they have too endure much odium, not their fault,, but that of the authorities. One instance, not many weeks ago a very popular and worthy magistrate took occasion on the bench to denounce in the very strongest terms, as a most un-English practise, the system of employing officers in plain clothes for the purpose of laying informations against publicans for Sunday trading. These remarks were reported in the public papers, and coming from such a source, the natural inference would be that the obnoxious practise was one of the devices of the head constable. Nothing could have been further from the truth, the plan condemned was adopted by direct order from the magistrates, suggested too, by the fair-trading portion of the licensed victuallers themselves, on the representation that houses which kept up an illegal Sunday traffic, having parties watching for the approach of the police, could never be detected by those in uniform. Thoughtless attacks in public upon the force do incalculable injury to that moral prestige without which it can never act with satisfaction and efficiency. We do not suppose if an archangel held the position of head constable in Liverpool he would escape without a large amount of calumny. It is the fate of such a position to be cavilled at perpetually, and no one has yet filled the office and escaped without some unworthy imputation, however clear in his high office, however pure his motives, genial his nature, or great his qualification. It is therefore no surprise, that a fault has already been discovered in the present gallant head. The rigidly censorious have no hesitation in declaring that he is too dignified, too stiff and reserved. Major GREIG with his military instincts and experience holds, that without more or less distance of manner on the part of a superior there can be no due subordination or respect amongst those over whom he is placed in command, but we are assured that this dignified reserve is simply "official" and confined to the parade, none can be more genial in heart or in manner. He is naturally proud of the splendid body of men over whom he is placed in command, he is ever studying their welfare and interest, which he has already promoted in a variety of ways, the men are aware of his kindly solicitude, so that he is popular with the force, and it is certainly for the public interest that these harmonious relations should be undisturbed, strengthened and continued.
By the Police Act of last year, the men are strictly forbidden by the very terms of their appointment to belong to any political organisation. Of 886 men on active street duty last year, 539 were natives of England, 203 of Ireland, 90 of Scotland and 54 of Wales.
Liverpool Mercury, July 20th, 1857
Chapter XV11, of Liverpool Life
Amongst the most melancholy sights which meets the eye of our well-to-do citizens any day in the streets is that of one or more policemen carrying off some unhappy wretch to the bridewell, followed by a rabble of ragged lads and dirty and disorderly women. The prisoner himself, a rough labourer in a beastly state of drunkenness, with torn shirt and bleeding face, and other marks of conflict, whom the officers can with difficulty drag along. Next, perhaps a young prig, who carries his head so impudently high as if he were glorying in his position, considering himself every inch the hero. Now, a man respectfully dressed, who hurries along with averted eye, as if he was anxious to screen himself as rapidly as possible from the unsympathising scrutiny of the observers. Then, the saddest sight of all, and yet of terrible frequency in Liverpool, the prisoner is a woman, she has acted the siren to some man, and then robbed him, or she, too is drunk, her bosom is bare, her hair dishevelled, her whole attire is disorder, and on her countenance and figure vice has written its lineaments. Can that bloated, repulsive -looking object possibly be one of the gentle sex whom the poet describes as having
"Grace in all her footsteps, heaven in her eye,
In every feature dignity and love?"
Is this creature, who has probably been spending her husband's hard-earned wages, or pawning his Sunday suit, if he has one, for the gratification of her debased appetite, the one to prove a "ministering angel" to him when.
"Pain and anguish wring his brow?"
Is she the one to rear his children up in that sense of virtuous responsibility which will fit them for a respectable course of life, make them ornaments of society, a blessing to themselves and others ?
The procession of police, prisoner, and attendant rabble move along, it may be to the main bridewell, in that case they will pass over one corner of the Exchange flags. It is "High Change" and the merchants assembled cannot but cast an occasional glance, the thought crossing their minds, perhaps, that possibly society, as well as the prisoner, may be a little to blame, but in the hurry of traffic, the ugly reflection is next moment dismissed. Is that wretch a sister of brother to awaken any particular solicitude ? Who, circumstanced as they are, would not be apt to forget that.
"Thro' tattered clothes small vices do appear,
Robes and furr'd gowns hide all?"
Besides the main bridewell, close to the Exchange, there are ten district bridewells in various parts of the town, these are located in, Vauxhall Rd, not far from Tithebarn St, Rose Hill, out of Richmond Row, Athol St, out of Scotland Rd, Prescot St, Essex St, Toxteth Park, Jordan St, Toxteth Park, Hotham St, Olive St, Windsor and two at the docks. 6 of the bridewells are old, and 4 are quite new, having been erected in the last few years and to meet an urgent necessity, for as the expands an increase in crime unfortunately accompanies the expansion. The new bridewells are a vast improvement on the old, bearing, in fact, the same relation to the old as the gaols of the last half century would do to the model prisons of the present day. The old ones are smaller and more cramped in their accommodation, are wanting in many conveniences, and there is this distinctive difference, that whereas the new bridewells are all on the ground floor, the cells in the old ones have to be reached by descending a flight of stairs. In the 6 old bridewells there are generally three cells, and a dungeon, where very refractory prisoners, who have threatened suicide or could be dangerous to other prisoners, are placed. The new ones have 4 large "rough rooms", for male and female prisoners, and 6 cells, whereby prisoners if not separated can be classified to a considerable extent. They would accommodate 200 tenants, or even more, are well ventilated and exceedingly clean. They have also room for reel and hose and other appliances in case of fire, and contain, above residences for a superintendent and one bridewell keeper. All the cells are lighted with gas, the jet secured so it cannot be tampered with, in a recess in the wall, and where fireplaces exist, they are also protected with strong iron guards. The furniture of the cell is sufficiently scanty, a strong form or bench, constituting a seat or bed as the prisoner may choose, runs around the wall, a bucket stands in one corner, and a coarse leather covered pillow lies upon the form. A tin can of water is handed in when prisoners desire. In two or three places a ring is driven in the wall, the prisoners are handcuffed and fastened to these when restraint is needed, the prisoner being kept in a sitting position. Generally only one hand is fettered, but if they are very violent both are fastened behind their backs and then secured to the ring. The bridewells are visited daily by the divisional superintendents, to see they are clean and in good order, and they are also visited by the ordinary superintendents several times, to ascertain if there are complaints, and to see the state in which the prisoners are kept.
Suspended in every bridewell is a code of rules and regulations to be strictly observed :-
All prisoners must be visited frequently, particularly in cases of drunkenness, in extreme cases every 15 minutes.
If a surgeon is required the bridewell keeper on duty must instantly send for one by note.
Whenever it may be found necessary to place refractory prisoners under restraint, the bridewell keeper or clerk must enter in the memorandum book all the circumstances connected therewith, particularly the time of securing and releasing.
No bridewell keeper is to consider that he has the right to punish a prisoner, but only to restrain him so long as he is violent.
All persons in custody having money must be charged 6d for the transmission of any message, also omnibus hire when the distance renders it necessary. If unable to pay the message will be forwarded without charge.
There are various restrictions placed on the communication which prisoners are allowed to hold with persons outside, but they may send out for anything essentially necessary.
In former times a sort of perquisite was made by the officers at the main bridewell, by letting proper and comfortable beds to such as were able to pay for the accommodation, the system was one subject to great abuse. Now beds are only to be provided for prisoners only in cases of remand, illness, or under special circumstances by order of the governor, the charge for each bed to be 2s per night, and the amount thus derivable, as well as that received for messages, is to be accounted for to the treasurer monthly. If the prisoner be ill and unable to pay, the governor is to furnish the bed without charge, this rule is applicable only to the main bridewell as in the district bridewells beds have been discontinued altogether. Any one who has watched the motley group of dirty, ragged and wretched looking women to be seen any morning at 9am at the door of the main bridewell, with tins and dishes in their hands or under their aprons and shawls, will be aware that the regulations allow food to be carried in to the prisoners by their friends, but a strict embargo is placed on wines, spirits, malt liquor and tobacco. Destitute persons are provided with bread and water "on application." The various bridewells were never previously under such strict supervision as they now are, visited daily some half dozen times, by officers, the supervision extended to all hours of the night, the most important time of all, for night is the period of offence and capture. There is a rule that both the divisional superintendents and the superintendent on duty in the north town division are to visit the main bridewell at uncertain periods each day between the hours of 9pm to 6am, recording such visits in the memorandum book.
One curious rule, "that no pigs or poultry shall be kept in any of the bridewells" often worse than pigs are carried there. The class of prisoners brought into the various bridewells, owing to the neighbourhoods in which they are placed, Prescot St, is noted for its drunken carters, Vauxhall Rd for cases of drunkenness accompanied by assaults and other violence, Hotham St, contributes an unhappy number of "gay young ladies" "fast young men" a superior class of prisoners altogether. In ordinary cases, prisoners are taken to the first district bridewell, but if there appear doubtful circumstances or any legal complexity in the charge, the bridewell keeper refuses to take the responsibility, and the accused has remitted with the officer and the complaining party to the central office in Dale St. This is a very judicious reserve, and the value is show in the extreme rarity of those cases in which the police constables are proceeded against for false imprisonment. At the central office, Mr CLOUGH the indoor superintendent, or the clerks on duty in his absence, sift all the circumstances with an amount of technical knowledge and critical acumen which, if possessed by any practical lawyer, would rapidly secure to him a fortune. The chances are great that either the accused or accuser may be known, their habits and moral standing, and we do not venture much when we say that the real facts of the case are brought out far more fully and accurately than they are or can be in the formal examination at the police court the next morning. Many of the charges are of the most frivolous character, many prompted through spite alone, a creditor is very apt to accuse a person of felony who is only responsible for debt, at least one third of the accusations are summarily dismissed. In other cases were the prima facie evidence is considered sufficient, the prisoners are despatched to the main bridewell, and brought up before the magistrates for examination the next morning.
The police parade stations, besides two small ones at the docks, there are two large ones in the town, that for the south division in Seel St, and that for the north division in Rose Hill. At Rose Hill the apartment in which the force muster is extraordinary spacious, a long form runs along the walls, which are studded with placards, police notices, and instructions of every kind, one with the figures etched in chalk, so they may be altered to suit the season, "that the public gas lamps ought to be lighted at 10,52 pm and extinguished at 1,12am. Another placard directs officers how to procure medical assistance and relief for poor women who may be seized in labour. A fire worthy of a feudal hall is burning brightly at one side of the large apartment, and at the other is a large glass enclosure, at which several clerks and bridewell keepers are making entries in huge ledgers, there is a passage on the same side leading to a few small cells for prisoners.
Liverpool Mercury, July 27th, 1857
Chapter XV111, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
We are on parade, on Saturday evening at Rose Hill Bridewell, at 8.45pm, the 8 sections intended for night duty in the northern division of the town begin to pour in to the close and take their seats as they arrive upon the bench which runs around the large hall. Each man knows his exact place, and all arrive in admirable punctuality that no sooner has the stream set in than it has fully flowed. The Rose Hill station appears to be constructed on a peculiar acoustic principle, for on occasions of muster there arises a buzz or hum such as will be heard only in a garrison, where "with life's elixir sparkling high" the very air seems inspired with the spirit of youthful vigour and robust health. Taking a walk along the line, "What sort of a beat is Hatton Garden?" we hear one young officer ask another. He will evidently have to go there for the first time that night. "Oh, its very rough," is the discouraging response. Mr RIDE divisional superintendent is in attendance, and the eight inspectors at first told to "fall in" Inspectors in addition to their general duties, have also the special task assigned to them of visiting at stated periods all licensed lodging houses upon their rounds, having stood up, various communications were read to them, one being to the effect that in consequence of an intimation from Dr DUNCAN, it was desired that in the inspection of lodging houses in future, two children under 7 years of age should be counted as one, and that a child in arms was not to number at all.
The various sections were afterwards paraded in succession, and the number of men to be taken on each beat assigned. Each officer, in somewhat soldier fashion, had to display his "kit" and exhibited a cape flung over his left arm, holding a truncheon, whistle and rattle in one hand. When mustered a great variety of notifications of robberies and other special directions were read out to them. One of which was a personal description, very minute, of a young man who had absconded from Lime St and who was "wanted" on a charge of embezzlement, another was "Stolen last night from a warehouse in Tithebarn St, a shawl" a third that a lady had that day had her pocket picked of a 5 pound Bank of England note and two gold sovereigns, then there was another charge of embezzlement, with a description of party next, "Stolen from a man in a brothel, 2, 10 dollar gold pieces," a sixth, "Stolen this morning, a silver lever watch, and a seventh, that a stable in Pembroke Gardens had been forced open and robbed. The officers were all attentive to these announcements, the reading of which was interrupted by a "row" amongst some drunken women in Peover St, adjoining and two or three men went out to quell the viragos who had thus dared to heard the lion in his very den. The great body of the men were then formed into single file, and marched towards the door, about a dozen, however, being kept in reserve. Of these some had been in court in charge of cases that morning. The superintendent learned how long each had been detained there, then made him according to the circumstances of the case, a certain allowance of time. Many of the men, looked only half satisfied, as if they had expected a greater indulgence than was accorded. Of those going out, some would be allowed to go off at 1am, but the great majority would have to wait until 6am. One half, of those going on that night, would come on again next afternoon [Sunday] at 3pm. Punctually at 9pm the men received the word to "march" and then went accompanied by their inspectors, to be dropped at their beats through all the northern parts of the town. No sooner had they gone when the men they had relieved began dropping in.
As the various sections became filled, an inspector reported them as "correct" and the superintendent then formally inspected them, and sent them off. By this system every man is seen between 8.45 pm and 9.20pm, and persons who have complaints to make of incivility or any other improper conduct on the part of an officer are invited to attend during that interval, when they will have the advantage of seeing the whole of the men, and identifying the supposed offender. We were told that the state of the bridewells would soon show the influence of sending out this strong force of 120 men, strengthened, too, by supernumeraries, as up to that hour, there had only been 60 on duty, the weaker force would not be so likely to interfere with disorder, unless it was extreme. Besides, the night was wearing on, and drink would be commencing to produce its too usual effect.
The disturbance in Peover St was not the only interruption on parade. Three men were brought in by two officers, they appeared to be drunk. One a stout, Irishman was in his shirt sleeves, a second, a tall young fellow, had his face all gashed and bleeding. The report was that these two had been fighting near Scotland Rd, Market, and the third had been witness of the affray. We went with the superintendent into a little back office to hear the particulars of the complaint preferred. It appeared that a drunken fellow, not one of the three, had been kicking and assaulting everybody that came within his reach, when the two officers went up to arrest him. A crowd immediately pressed round, and cried out that the police were abusing a man. The bystanders were doing everything they could to prevent the fellow being taken, and one of the officers who had hold of him was kneeling on the ground, when the rough-looking prisoner in the shirt sleeves, who is employed in the market either through Irish instinct and love of fight, or because he thought the officers were actually in danger, rushed into the melee, snatched the truncheon out of the pocket of the kneeling officer, used it right and left, and struck amongst others the tall young prisoner with the bleeding face. He appeared much hurt, and the original offender, hade made his escape in the tumult which ensued. The superintendent having heard all the circumstances, the address of his sans culotte assailant was given to the injured man, and the parties, who were very noisy and vituperative, as if they were prepared any moment to burst into violence, were then sent about their business.
We next inspected the cells at Rose Hill bridewell, but the night being early yet, not many prisoners had been brought in, the first cell was occupied by a very rough-looking fellow, who had been brought in not long before for smashing in a jeweller's window in Byrom St and attempted to steal a watch. On being questioned by the superintendent, he stated he had been working in a cotton mill in Manchester, but that he had lately been out of work, and that his object was to get into prison, "the fact being that he did not care what became of him." "But would not it have been better to have kept your character good, and have sought relief in a proper way ?" "Oh no," he replied, with astounding nonchalance, "I cannot work for I have had a paralytic stroke of my right side." He would appear, however, to have got rid of his alleged paralysis very speedily afterwards, as he never mentioned or exhibited the least signs of it when he was brought up before the Magistrates on Monday morning, and it was then stated that there were strong reasons to believe him a ticket-of-leave convict. In the next cell was a wretched looking female, who said she lived in Crosshall St, and who had been brought in for stealing a bed-tick from a man with whom she had been cohabiting. The prisoner stated in answer to inquiries that she had been nine years in Liverpool, and she had made her living by going out with the prosecutor gathering "old clo" that he used her badly, and tore every "tack" off her, that she had no children to the man, and that she meant hereafter to lead a better life. We observed the bridewell-keeper give a very incredulous smile at the last expression. The prisoner also pleaded as a strong point in her favour that she had been apprehended in St Joseph's chapel, while "attending to her religious duties before "Father M'Gra" The next cell was empty, a man had hung himself in it not very long before. We were told it was frequently necessary to fasten both hands of a prisoner to one of the rings in the wall, as they often tried to commit suicide, the women especially, the latter by putting the strings of their dresses around their throats. Only three weeks before, a woman handcuffed by one hand, had taken a string from her pocket, but was frustrated in her attempt by the appearance of the bridewell-keeper, not, however, before she had grown quite black in the face Prisoners confined for drunkenness especially, and who are sure to be suffering more or less after their confinement, from the most gloomy and terrible of all visitations, mania a potu, require constant watchfulness on the part of those entrusted by their temporary custody, and yet, with all the care which is exercised a man has succeeded in hanging himself in a cell in Jordan St bridewell since these articles were commenced. What a gloomy ending of a dishonourable life!
Before leaving we observed a Dispensary surgeon in conversation with one of the bridewell keepers. The Dispensary surgeons render a very great service to the public by their promptitude in attendance in all cases of violence or danger, at what ever hour of the night the police may call them. In the great majority of instances their services are gratuitously rendered. The gentleman who was in appeared to be informing the bridewell keeper of the result of some recent case in which an indecent assault had been committed upon a little girl. It appeared from his statement that the poor young creature was now suffering from a loathsome ailment, and that it had been communicated to her by her brutal assailant under a superstitious impression which is widely spread amongst the ignorant classes in all parts of the country, that she being pure he could thus be able to rid himself of the consequences entailed upon him by his own vice.
Sick of such painful incidents and stories, we next seek the open air and are off on our night rambles with the superintendent, through the streets and bridewells at the north of the town. Thackeray, in describing a night scene in his "Ballads of Policeman X," says :-
The night was stormy and dark,
The town was shut up in sleep.
Only those were abroad who were out on a lark,
Or those who'd no beds to keep.
I passed through the lovely street,
The wind did sing and blow;
I could hear the policeman's feet
Clapping to and fro.
Not such, was the time we had chosen for our ramble, it was a glorious summer night, and some of those parts of Liverpool to which we were about to wend our way do not appear to "shut up" at all in sleep on a Saturday night, but the entire inhabitants empty themselves instead on their doorsteps, and sit there, weather permitting, until 2 or 3am, and many much later, every Sunday morning. Vauxhall Rd, with all its adjacent streets is late, but, Marybone, inhabited by a similar class of people, is as quiet as any vicinity up town on a Saturday evening, whist it is the most uproarious place in Liverpool on a Sunday evening. We are told that this could be accounted for by the fact that a very great part of the male residents of the streets running out of Marybone are at this season of the year employed in the country, and they do not reach their homes on Saturday night, if they come at all before the Sunday, till the public houses and beerhouses are about to close. Vauxhall Rd on the contrary, is largely occupied by dock labourers, carters, and other workmen of the roughest and humblest class, who have got their wages and are eager for the customary debauch. And really when one looks at the dismal dens of court houses where the majority of the poor creatures reside, and the total want of domestic comfort and cleanliness which they generally exhibit, one can scarcely wonder that they flock out on summer nights in the hope of catching a momentary breath of purer and less stifling air.
It is now 10pm in Scotland Rd, teeming with a moving throng. Here is a hard-working mechanic, cleaned up, and going with his wife to "make the marketing" and this will be about one of the most pleasing spectacles which meet the eye, for there, are a number of lazy fellows standing grouped at a street corner, in the most dirty and besotted condition, obstructing the thoroughfare, insulting all descent passers-by, and here, is a woman who has just slipped out of the gin palace, she has a baby on one arm, a rickety basket, evidently with very little in it on the other, she appears to be staggering along, her unsteady gait appearing to threaten that she will be every moment letting the child fall. There, are some young girls talking to those rowdy-looking little lads with short pipes in their mouths, girls in years, but utterly brutal in their appearance, demeanour and conversation. A further group is made up by a basket woman and her sympathisers, she is treating a policeman to some of the choicest Billingsgate for ordering her to "move on" and leave the pathway clear. Here, there is a street singer, there, a man selling for a half-penny details of the last brutal murder or dreadful accident, and yonder, there is a fight. There, too, that wretched, barefooted, and ragged little girl, creeping out of the pawnshop. [The golden balls are plentiful in the neighbourhood] She has been sent to take her father's neckerchief or shirt out of pledge, only to return again on the Monday, when the thirst is found vehement as ever, and the wages are all gone. We peep in at the dark little closeted compartments behind the counter. Those prostitutes there are pledging, some trifling, and therefore unsuspected produce of robbery, that simple fellow his watch, and that dirty and drunken woman is offering a valueless under garment, which the pawnbroker refuses, treating, indeed, all his customers with a superciliousness so haughty that we cannot but pity the latter, degraded as they are.
Liverpool Mercury, August 3rd, 1857
Chapter X1X, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
On Saturday night we visited a species of minor theatre situated at Bevington Hill, which goes by the name of the "Nightingale Saloon", whether so named in honour of the Swedish songstress or the true-hearted heroine of the Crimea, we are only left to conjecture. The establishment is one supported exclusively by the working classes, admission is gained by the payment of threepence at the door, for which, on ordinary week nights, those who enter are entitled to a glass of ale, a cigar, a bottle of ginger beer, or other refreshment, but on Saturday evenings the payment is absolute without this consideration. The building is sufficiently unpretending outside, and the interior is fitted up with a certain air of neatness. A bar runs along one side of the hall, which is also provided with a gallery. The stage at the other end is furnished with all the necessary trappings of scenery etc. The theatre, saloon, or whatever it should be called, was crowded with a very miscellaneous audience, and the character of those assembled formed the first subject of observation. The great majority consisted of hard-working men, many who appeared to have just come in from their labour, from their unwashed faces and "unkempt hair" and several were in their shirt sleeves. Some were really clean, well dressed mechanics, who in many cases had brought their wives of sweethearts along with them. There was very little smoking going on, and the demand for drink appeared no greater than a stout, comely, motherly-looking sort of woman was personally able to supply. The play in progress was a sort of light running vaudeville, all the points in which, musical or otherwise, appeared to hang on the incidents of matrimonial quarrel, and it was amusing to observe the heartiness with which every hit on either side was received by the rougher portion of the audience, some who kept shouting out in a not very elegant running commentary of their own as the piece went on. It is perfectly idle to suppose that the humbler classes cannot appreciate the beauties of a good theatrical representation, whilst the rich are only sentimentally emotional, the poor, from their life of hardship, are practically and powerfully so, we could only lament that the moral lesson taught by the piece, should not have been of a higher and more elevated character. The writer had no aim beyond the amusement of the hour, its only praise was that it contained nothing objectionably gross, it is but justice to its conductors to mention that the superintendent and officers who acted as our cicerones assured us, that it was a place which gave little trouble to the police.
The route lay next down Paul St, a place noted in past times for the number of "smashers", that is, coiners and utterers of counterfeit coin, who used to reside in its labyrinth of dirty court houses, but the Mint is a severe prosecutor, transportation on conviction was the almost invariable penalty, an offence which for the past few years has been almost totally rooted out of Liverpool, although moving stories of adventurous forays in the locality can still be related by many old police officers. It was interesting to observe the sensation which the presence of the police produced amongst the residents lounging about their doorways, who appeared relieved as the officers passed, but watched with eagerness where their steps were next bent. "Thank God," we heard one woman exclaim, "they are not wanting me this time." We called in on our way at some brothels of the lowest class, being frequented and supported exclusively by sailors frequenting the port. We were too early, [11pm] the women were out looking for their sable admirers and patrons, and in each case, the house seemed left in charge of a little girl, who answered all inquiries with a certain business air and cunning which argued no moral misgivings as to any particular impropriety in the scenes of horrible pollution of which she must be the constant witness. We must see a little of the "fashionable" life of the seamen in Liverpool, and attend one of their "assemblies" held at a beerhouse in Vauxhall Rd. All acquainted with the character of the population of the United States, are aware of their fondness for dance, and of their extravagant love of gaudy and showy attire. We were not surprised on entering to find the counter surrounded by ebony gentlemen, with superfine coats of the "fastest" cut, linen of snowy whiteness or the most flashy patterns, rings upon their fingers, and shirt studs of the greatest lustre and most enormous size. The lobbies were crowded that it was almost impossible to get along, but a fiddle and the shuffling of feet were heard overhead, ascending a rickety staircase, the ballroom in all its brilliance [if any] burst into view. The apartment was small, lighted by a single jet from the centre of the ceiling, the walls were not particularly clean. The floor was occupied by four individuals, well dressed, and four young girls dancing a quadrille. The music stopped soon after our entrance, on the sight of the uniform [blue in all these parts is a most unpopular colour] but learning that the visit had not a hostile meaning, "Come on let us have another set" said one of the girls, and the dance went on, but under an evident restraint. The time for closing came soon afterwards, and the landlord, jealous either of the honour of his house or wishing to stand well in the eye of the police with respect to the future probabilities of a license soon afterwards sent up a message which caused an abrupt termination of the ball by an extinguishment of the light.
Our way lay next up Eldon St, which partakes of all the general characteristics of the highways and byways in that neighbourhood. Visiting one house of illfame, a very young boy and girl came down stairs, and these appeared to be the only parties in. "Hilloa! are you here?" said the superintendent to the lad, "what are you doing now?" "Me! I am a sailor, "was the reply. "Nay, nay" "Yes, I am a turnpike sailor", said the lad, with a look of the most daring and bravado. We were told on leaving that he was one of the class who go about with "the girls" to receive from them and run off with watches or money which they may have stolen. A considerable crowd gathered to see what was "the row" and it was with difficulty that some of them could be kept back, so keen was the curiosity of the women especially, from forcing their way into the houses into which we subsequently went. A few doors from the last, we entered a cellar kept by an old Irishwoman, who was asked how many girls she now had, when she said she had none at present except her own two daughters! Two stout fellows were in, one of them very drunk, and another, seeing an officer, appealed to him for protection from the old crone, who held in her hand a piece of iron, in form something between a poker and an axe, and who was uttering against them, with frightful oaths, the most horrible of threats. His statement was that the other "boy." the one who was drunk, had come only the other day from Cork, and had found his way or been inveigled into this cellar, that, being acquainted with him he had gone to take him out, but that the old woman had positively refused to let either of them go. Her object, doubtless, was robbery, as soon as bullies could be summoned for the purpose, and it really appeared as if she had effectually cowed them both. The police liberated them from their dangerous durance, the woman fairly screaming with rage as they left, such curses as we hope it will never again be our fate to hear. "Now, you would not have struck them with that," said the superintendent, soothingly "Would I not, by ----; what did God Almighty give me the strength for but to strike, and take my own part!"
We were once more in the open air of Scotland Rd, although the throng which had crowded it an hour before, instead of diminishing, appeared to have increased. We cannot pass without observing the swing-boats and "merry-go-rounds" located on a piece of vacant land, far up towards Kirkdale, and which have become quite an institution in that part of the town. They had, however just ceased their operations for the night, and the disorderly juveniles whom they cause to congregate were about dispersing themselves, not to go home, but to annoy other neighbourhoods with their presence. The police, have not the power totally to prohibit this kind of public nuisance, at least so far from the centre of town. It had been found better to make a compromise with the proprietors of the machines and induce them to close at 10pm each night, except Saturdays when the privilege is extended to 11pm, so far the fellows have kept faith. They need watching, however, should the police be absent for a short time, they snatch the opportunity, if they can, of introducing gaming tables, which meet a ready patronage. Now and then a foray on the gamesters has to be quietly organised and rapidly executed, one trophy on one of these raids in the shape of a rouge-et-noir bank, was lying a few minutes afterwards amongst some other curious lumber in Athol St bridewell.
On our way down to Athol St we observed a policeman leading gently along by the hand a lost child, which he was passing on to the next beat, and around which was several sympathising women, who were trying in vain to find out from the child where it lived. In case no parent appeared to claim it, it would be passed to the bellman's in Greek St, and then finally, no claimant appearing, would be taken to the workhouse, to make its entrance upon the great stage of life with all the disadvantage of a pauper prestige and training. The Athol St bridewell is one of the new and better class of such establishments, and at the time of our visit contained only one prisoner. He was, we were told, a man of violent character, and had separated from his wife, who had lived in constant terror of him. She was sheltered and fed by the kindly-hearted woman with whom she had previously lodged, but the visits which he was in the habit of making were so dangerous and annoying that he had been complained of at the central police office. A watch had been put on the place, and he had been captured that night in the very act of demolishing the poor woman's windows.
Leaving the bridewell, we had not gone far till "the drowsy ear of night" was "vexed" by a terrible commotion in a neighbouring court yard. A big rough looking fellow was standing at the door of one of the houses, and had been making vehement attempts to assault a neighbour living opposite. A policeman had been watching him for some time, but had been unable to capture him, as, whenever he approached the offender fled into his house and fastened the door. The dispute appeared to have originated with the wives of the two parties, who had been accusing each other of course in the very choicest terms of the foulest conduct. "Well, why don't you leave the neighbourhood ?" said the superintendent to the complaining party. "Well, I mean to do so," said the man, "if I could only have peace till Monday, for it is only ourselves that suffer, but he is a terror to the whole neighbourhood," It was said that he had been out flourishing a knife. Another policeman was summoned to the spot, the two were instructed to hide themselves at the end of the court, and if he made his appearance out of doors again, to rush upon him and take him to the bridewell. We left the two officers standing there, not without some nervous timidity on our own part for their safety. If they overpowered and seized the ruffian, they would have to drag him through a district, where every prisoner, no matter what the charge, would have a hundred active sympathisers. Those who are continually crying out against, and those who weigh in such dainty scales and punish so heavily any shade of "unnecessary" violence, real or apparent, on the part of the poor policeman, should have been with us on this occasion.
Liverpool Mercury, August 10th, 1857
Chapter XX, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
We next visit the Collingwood Dock station to attend a midnight parade, and saw three sections of men muster for the purpose of relieving others along the northern line of the docks. This is one of the best and commodious stations in the possession of the force. It is built of granite and has that massiveness, strength and finish which characterise all the work which Mr HARTLEY puts from his hands, he alone in these days of flimsiness and jerry-building appears to have caught the spirit of those ecclesiastical founders of old, who, in rearing an abbey or church, appear to have designed the edifice as an eternal monument of their piety. The police are happy in their headquarters prepared for them, but look forward with some misgiving to the rapidly approaching time when they will have to surrender possession of the premises which with our increasing commerce, will certain to arise.
We found only three prisoners in the cells, one a woman for attempting to steal a pair of trousers, a man detained on the charge of passing a base half-crown, and the third a simple case of drunkenness, but we shall never forget the horrible look of the latter prisoner, as he lay, with blotched face, parched lips and swollen veins, stretched full length and in an uneasy slumber, on his back upon the form. The pillow had rolled away from him, so that his head was the same height as his heels, and he appeared like a demon coaxing a stroke of apoplexy or congestion of the brain.
Besides serving for parade and ordinary police purposes, the Collingwood Dock station is also a receiving house for the resuscitation of persons apparently drowned. A boiler for feeding a large bath is kept constantly heated day and night. So soon as a body is recovered from the river, or any of the neighbouring docks, it is brought here with the least possible delay, and instantly placed in a warm bath. A messenger is then despatched in a car to the Dispensary Vauxhall Rd, for a surgeon, and during the time he is away the bridewell keeper on duty takes the necessary means for the restoration of life, acting on the printed instructions of the Humane Society, and that he is successful in a great majority of the cases a glance at the register he keeps proves. This receiving house was only opened in January 1853, and yet it has been the means already of saving hundreds of lives. There is a like one at the Princes Dock station, the Southern Hospital answers a third for that end of the docks where it is placed.
When we left the station, all the public houses and beerhouses had been shut up, their customers disgorged into the street, but although it was now the Sabbath, this is the most disorderly and troublesome hour for the police. Some "won't go home till morning;" some cannot if they would, and unless the officers are active, thieves fasten upon the latter, and strip them of everything which they have about them. Nor are they always very grateful for the protection thus afforded them. Elated by John BARLEYCORN, they look upon all interferences to urge them home as a deadly insult, and the policeman is too often rewarded for his benevolent advice by a brutal blow. A trying life indeed is that of a police officer, and no class of men have so much of the discipline of patience.
Our route lay next up over Chisenhale Bridge into the street of the same name, this bridge and its approaches have long been a favourite haunt for the gang of ruffians who accomplish their robberies by violence, and should their victim be able to resist with any energy the attempt to plunder, in many cases he has been heaved into the canal. It would certainly not be safe for any stranger, however stout or stout-hearted, to attempt to make his way alone at this hour by this route from the docks into Vauxhall Rd, and yet it is the most direct thoroughfare. Emigrants, consequently, are frequently directed along it, not always from design, and much praise we feel bound to accord to the police authorities, we cannot but feel it is an opprobrium to the very town that any district acknowledged to be dangerous should be allowed for one moment to continue in that condition. We know that it is the duty of the Watch Committee to take the initiative in respect to orders. Let them, if need be, place even a Bude light upon the bridge, and run a close line of lamps along the street. The vicious residents of the quarter could not endure such an unwelcome flood of light, the danger would at once vanish, or be placed within manageable bounds.
As we approach the sound of revelry and strife falls upon the ear, and although it is now nearly 1am, the street seems alive with its human swarm. Immediately after passing over the bridge a noise was heard in a house of bad character, kept by a fat, frowsy-looking woman. The police entered and found two men there, married men, Irish labourers. On inquiring about the reason for the commotion, the landlady, putting on a pitiable whine, said the noise was not there, she was a "poor lone woman;" that the two "boys" and she had been coming over the bridge together when they were attacked and followed by some "roughs" and that they had just escaped, and taken refuge in her house. We, passed on, with a smile, but a few steps further on a terrible "row" was heard in one of the courts. There had been a fight between one of the tenants at the end of the court and some men who were at a brothel in one of the houses up the passage. We found an officer stationed at the end of the entry to prevent any further collision. The fellow who lived at the end house appeared several times at the door in his shirt sleeves, he was drunk, and appeared anxious to renew the fight, but was dragged back each time by his wife and other women, whom he did his best to repel with pushes and blows. We accompanied the superintendent to the brothel up the court, and found it filled with men and prostitutes, the latter mostly semi-nude, having on only a petticoat flying open at the breast, one the floor stood one of the men, a stout, noble looking well dressed fellow, his wide nostrils expanded with rage, a living type of what we may suppose Toussaint L'Ouverture to have been. Looking at his majestic form and physical strength, we thought, he would have been the last man in the world that any one, even in the roughest neighbourhoods, would have ventured to attack, but on inquiring into the disturbance we were told by the landlady the "gentleman" came in a car and upon getting out at the entry end he was set upon and his hat knocked off and stolen. The superintendent succeeded in pacifying him by telling him they were a bad lot, and that a gentleman like him had better put up with such a trifling loss than go out amongst them again. It also appeared from what the bystanders said of the desperate character of the fellow outside that there would be danger of a knife. The inmates of the house were particularly civil to our official attendant. We looked in before leaving at another house of the same description, kept by a notorious character, the wife of a man who was transported for highway robbery a year or two ago. In passing up the street, the whole inhabitants seemed to be out upon their doorsteps, and it was evident from the excitement that more rows were brewing. Extra strength was therefore ordered upon the beat, the instructions to the men being, as the first preliminary of any hope of peace, to do their utmost to get the people to retire into their own homes.
After leaving this stormy neighbourhood and reaching Vauxhall Rd, that leading thoroughfare appeared in a state of almost profound repose, but their were symptoms of disorder and disquiet in nearly all the narrow side streets on either side of the way. An officer came up, and touching his hat, in salute to the superintendent, said, "That fight, sir, is to take place on Muck Quay, between 7 and 8 am. On inquiring into the particulars of the appointed battle, we learned that the "difficulty" was between two neighbours, and had arisen from an attack on each with pokers, which had led to cross summonses before the magistrates, whose decision, however, would appear to have been unsatisfactory to both the belligerents. The fight had been arranged to come off on the previous Sunday morning, and the parties actually had met, accompanied by their respective sympathisers, to the number of nearly 200, but the police had, had intimation of the affray, and spoiled that sport by their interference, to the disgust of all the enlightened individuals who were present. However, in despite of what the police may do to prevent these disgraceful exhibitions, prize fights, occasionally take place on Sunday morning in all that region, the North Shore being a favourite battle ground, and anyone who has a taste in that way and chooses to rise about 4am, may enjoy the spectacle of two brutes battering each other almost to death. The chances are that he will have not gone out to see a single set to for the excitement of combat is infectious, disputes are sure to break out between the partisans of the "bruisers" on each side, and a dispute in such an arena has no abatements but that of blows.
Pursuing our route, we had an illustration of the varied duties of policemen, in a descent looking elderly woman coming up to complain that a man had taken away a child from her daughter. An officer was instructed to inquire into the circumstances, but we did not learn the particulars. Marybone St was profoundly tranquil, but at the corner of Hodson and Fontenoy streets a group of women were gathered at the door. One, quite a young creature had a child in her arms, and was crying, her husband had come home drunk, abused her, and turned her out. She told us, with sobs, that he was in the habit of coming home that way "nearly every hour of the night." The female sympathisers around wished to carry her off to sleep elsewhere. She, however, wanted to go into her own home, and solicited the interposition of the officers, but was told it was not a case with which they could interfere, as in the majority of cases such a step only made matters worse. Our attention was called to the singular conformation of the child's head which was perfectly elongates in shape, "like a penny loaf". What effect must such scenes have upon the future character of the child ?
Next, in Great Crosshall St a riotous crowd was gathered about "a halfpenny shaving shop," which it would appear does such a roaring business that on the occasion in question at least it had been open till 1.30 am on the Sunday. The proprietor, his son and wife, were at the door, and they complained that a rabble of boys and girls had been throwing stones at the door and window. Those they pointed out as the active participators in the affray were driven off, but as neither party appeared inclined to tell, the cause of the disturbance remained a mystery. A little higher up the street, a woman came and complained that a female had gone into her back premises, and would persist, in spite of all that could be done, in sleeping in the petty. The superintendent promised to send an officer to drive her out and inquire into the case. We are now on our way to the Vauxhall bridewell.
Liverpool Mercury, August 17th, 1857
Chapter XX1, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
If anyone would wish to see the nearest thing to pandemonium on earth, they should pay a visit to the Vauxhall and Main bridewells in the early hours of a Sunday morning. The first of these enjoys a bad eminence among all the other district bridewells in the town for the rough and disorderly class of prisoners are usual received there. The charges are nearly all for drunkenness, disorder and assaults. It was only 1.30 am when we visited the place, and the business then was only just beginning to be brisk. A crowd of women was congregated about the door, consisting of friends of parties who had just been taken in, and who were evidently waiting to see whether the charges would be taken, or the accused released. Many of them were drunk, some were crying, and so eager was the curiosity of all that they could only be kept from forcing their way into the office by the presence of an officer and his threats to clap them in custody unless they immediately dispersed. The case under investigation was that of a woman whose husband had already been sent below and she was endeavouring to mislead as to identity by denting her true name. She called herself M'Taag whilst her husband had been booked in as Nicholson. The charge against them was that of creating an uproar by quarrelling in the streets. "Why did not you give right name ?" asked the superintendent, "I did tell him my own name, why should I his ? We have not been married long." "Now you know very well that your husband's name is your name." "Well sir" she answered "we were just having a little falling out, as every married body has." All prisoners are searched before being locked up in their cells, the contents of their pockets, entered in a ledger, and the search takes place in the presence of the officer in charge of the case, who is required to verify the result by signing the book. Female prisoners are generally searched by the wives of the bridewell keepers, who receive a small annual allowance for the service. The property is returned when the prisoner is discharged. The search is necessary, not only for the security of what property is on the prisoner, but especially to take away firearms, knives, or dangerous weapons.
We first made an inspection of the "rough room" in which there were three brutal-looking, men all of whom had been brought in for drunkenness and fighting. One who appeared to enjoy his plight, his spirits being as yet sustained by the drink, had a battered face and two black eyes, indeed the whole three had black eyes. One was dirty and wet as if he had been rolling in the gutter, he said he had fallen into the canal, and from his appeals to the superintendent he was anxious to get home and change his dress, he was urging some such suit when the door was shut on him. In 2 or 3 hours he would be transferred to the main bridewell, where he would be kept until Monday morning, and then, if he had not the means when brought before Mr MANSFIELD to pay the inevitable fine, his first opportunity to change his attire would be after a much-needed bath in gaol.
In an adjoining cell was a man who had also been brought in for fighting and who had been so violent that he had to be secured to the wall by one hand, for his own safety and that of others in the cell. The bridewell keeper said they had his wife in another room. The prisoner [indignantly] "No, no, I'm a single man" It would appear as if it was considered the safest course here to deny anything like a matrimonial alliance. The third cell contained six women, who had all been brought in for drunken and disorderly conduct. One was an old woman, grey haired with red pimpled face, who, had been no fewer than 93 times committed, occasionally for felony, but generally for drunkenness. What system of discipline should be applied to such a hopeless and abandoned case like this ?" The five other women in the cell were all young, one was decently attired, they all bore signs of devotion to the cup, one came up laughing as if she regarded her present position as a joke. "Why" she said, all smiles, "I never was in prison in my life, you surely would not lock me up." Like the man in the stocks she was locked up.
In a cell upstairs there was a man confined by himself, the charge in this case also of being drunk and disorderly. He said, in answer to inquires that he lived in Paul St. The bridewell keeper finished the biography, "He is a labourer", he said, "who works a little at times, he thieves the remainder" "He is what may be called a half-and-half-man." The prisoner, "I work always. My missis was bringing a piece of meat down the street, when a man knocked it out of her hand. I went up to resist and they took me away. Look here," he said, as if he was now going to strike a chord which would sure to elicit an approving sympathy, "a policeman cannot walk Paul St for these prigs."
The woman who "would sleep in a petty" was brought in by the officer who had been despatched to effect her removal. She was crying bitterly. The officer said he knew her, and that she was a prostitute. Superintendent "Where does she live?" Officer, "She did live at old Mother SKINNER'S, but she seems to have no place now." Superintendent, "How long has she been a prostitute?" The Officer, "To my knowledge about six months. When she first came under our notice about six months ago, she had only been upon the streets two or three weeks. She was well dressed then, and on being released took a car and went to the house of her sister, a respectable woman, living in Brunswick Rd. She has been a married woman herself but her husband is dead." The prisoner sobbed during this narrative, and rose up several times as if to interpolate some statement, but either fell or was pushed back on her seat. She was evidently affected with liquor, and would consequently be detained until Monday morning. Destruction, sooner or later, awaits all in her vicious line of life, but with what frightful rapidity she appears to have run and completed her course. An evident wreck in health and character, hungry, homeless, her only refuge now a workhouse or gaol.
Every one is familiar with the external aspect of the gloomy building, with its sooty facade of rusticated masonry, which stands in Exchange St, West, the main bridewell, and here all the prisoners are sent each morning, between 4 and 6am, from the various district bridewells in the town, preparatory to their appearance before the Magistrates in the Session House, with which it is connected by a subterranean passage opening into both courts. Many prisoners are taken direct to the main bridewell, and at the time of our visit, before the vans had gone out for the outsiders, we found new fewer than 35 persons in custody there. The governor said it was a "poor night", by which he meant the number was less than average and that the cases lacked interest, at least, that they were devoid of any extraordinary features in the eyes of those whose constant occupation is to deal with the criminal class, and suffer from the dreary uniformity with which in eternal cycles the old features of crime are ever coming round. The clerks in the office were engaged in booking a charge against a young well-dressed lad, who was evidently tipsy, and from the manner in which his shirt was crushed and pulled out at the breast had resisted apprehension. The officers stated that the prisoner and another lad had gone up to an old woman's stall under the Goree Piazzas and had sixpennyworth of coffee and bread, but when she asked for payment they abused her and then ran away. The officer had followed, but had only been able to catch this one. He was ordered to be locked up and his pockets searched, when a deal of silver was turned out, so that, taking him to be the descent lad his appearance promised, his conduct seems to be altogether inexplicable, unless he had been misguided by the drink. As it was he would be kept in confinement until Monday and be fined at least 9s 6d, he would certainly pay dear for the coffee which he had dishonestly partook. In this bridewell there is some little attempt at the classification of prisoners brought in, those brought in drunk and booked for safety are placed in one cell, those drunk and disorderly in another, assaults and male felonies, a third, and the female prisoners are classified in a similar manner, with the difference in their case, that the married ones are kept apart from the single. In the main bridewell a prisoner is rarely put in confinement alone, the fear of suicide always occurring, though visited every quarter of an hour by the keeper and superior officers of the force.
In the first "rough room" we counted about a dozen wretched and generally dirty-looking fellows. "This man" said the bridewell keeper, laying his hand on the shoulder of a brawny fellow in a blouse stained with blood upon the arms, and had the appearance of a brewer's drayman, "was brought in for being drunk and assaulting an officer. He also bit a piece out of another officer's hand." The Prisoner, "I bite him! ah, what a foolish man you must be" "This one," continued the bridewell keeper, directing attention to a prisoner who was very flashy dressed, "was brought in for exposing his person to a widow woman, and that young man for attempting to drown himself" The would be suicide appeared quite calm, there was nothing in his demeanour betraying the dreadful position from which he had been saved, or that one hour before he had been trembling on the verge of eternity. We were told he was a billposter, he had been observed running towards the river in an excited state by an officer. He had got over the chains at the Prince's Pier, and was just making his spring to leap into the river, when the officer in that moment reached the spot and caught him before he fell. He would give no explanation of his motives except that "he must". In the same cell we were pointed out a master joiner who had been brought in on a charge of felony. In a second an smaller rough room were confined six boys all charged with felony, some had a look of dogged hardihood, and all comparatively young as to raise a feeling of compassion for their position, a feeling somewhat dashed when the youngest and most innocent looking of the lot, we were told, "was only in for stealing a shirt this time, but had been ten times previously committed." Three of the others had also been 6 or 7 times committed.
In the women's ward we found eleven prisoners, two had been so violent that they had been handcuffed to rings in the wall. Whenever this is done an entry is made in the memorandum book, giving the reason why. One shouted to be put in a room by herself as the other prisoners had been mocking and annoying her.. The second one under restraint had been assaulting the other prisoners, she was a bad character in other respects and had been thirty times committed. Most of the females had been brought in on a charge of drunkenness, but one was pointed out as having robbed a man of 20s, the money was found in her bosom.
On returning to the office upstairs we found one of the clerks entering a very curious charge against a jolly-looking gentlemanly fellow who had been brought in in a state of Bacchi plenus, certainly. It was stated that he had been stopping at a public house, and that when 12, the hour of closing came, he had positively refused to go to bed or to go out, and would give no reason for his conduct. He even now refused to explain and was told if he didn't, they would find him lodgings where he was. There is one superior apartment at the main bridewell, termed "the lodge room" and only that the massive bars which fence the windows speak to plainly of restraint, it is spacious, well lighted, well ventilated, and on the whole a cheerful room. This was the place where respectable prisoners were generally put.
Liverpool Mercury, August 24th, 1857
Chapter XX11, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
It was now about 2am on Sunday, our route lay in Dale St and up London Rd, and although there were numerous stragglers to be met with at that hour, an air of quietude reigned, which was startling in contrast with the noisiness and disorder of the streets where the last few hours had been spent. It seemed this part of the town must be inhabited by an entirely different race. It was occupied by the decent citizens who lead a regular life, whose duties and pleasures terminated with the day. Yet it could not be said that there was absolute quiet, scattered individuals were here and there to be seen. A young woman, sobbing, stepped up to one of the officers, and complained that her husband was in a brothel in Preston St and she invoked their assistance to bring him out. They could not interfere. The officer on the beat, who came up at the time, stated that he had gone into the house pointed out to satisfy her, but the man was not there. The young woman added that she had since learned from a woman at the foot of the street, and who knew him, that she had seen him enter. She was left, however, to her own remedy and sorrow. Adultery is only a moral offence, no penal consequences yet attach to the worst of iniquities.
During our rounds we had been struck with the uniformity and promptitude with which the policemen on their respective beats came up almost instantly on the tap of the superintendent's stick, touched their hats, reported "all right" and then went off again, the only break being in Great Crosshall St, where the officer's absence was satisfactorily explained. Mentioning our admiration at the perfectness of the police machinery and discipline, the superintendent said he would give a signal which would show us, supposing a robbery to be committed there and then, the strength and efficiency of the assistance which could immediately be brought to hand. In all former cases a single tap of the stick had been given, the whistle of the officer was heard in response, he then was seen walking up. Now a double or treble tap was given or other signal, which we will not particularise and instantly we heard a clattering of feet, and three or four policemen came running to the spot. Out of breath they eyed us suspiciously and looked as if they expected an order to take him off. No explanation was given to them, they reported "all right" and were then dismissed. "You should not do that often or you might find yourself in the position of the boy who cried "wolf"." We said to the Superintendent, "Oh no" he repliedÃ¢â‚¬Â it is necessary for me often to do so, in order that I may ascertain the state of discipline in which the men actually are."
On reaching the area of the monument in London Rd, the officer on duty was asked as to the state of the walk, and answered, "Oh, they are all as rough as bears yonder yet." It was then about 2.30am, we were surprised to hear this statement as the front street appeared quiet. We crossed the way, and were instantly introduced to quite a different scene, in some dirty little back streets, of whose existence and character the stranger passing down London Rd would have not the slightest conception, and yet we were told that for concentrated vice, "boozing dens" and brothels, this for its size was one of the very worst districts in the town. To understand the topography, we entered at Oakes St and came out at Norman St.
As we had seen in Chisenhale St not one half of the people appeared to be in bed, doors were open, but no one was in the houses, and where the people could have gone to as all the public houses were then closed, remains a mystery to the present time. In one instance a young idle woman was sitting upon the steps and when why she did not go in her answer was that she could not, as "mother" was out, who had the key. The whole place appeared to swarm with females of loose character, from the old, brutal-looking, with bloated figure and dirty and ragged clothes, down to quite little girls, whose sad and vicious course of life, begun so early, had not yet bereft them of all traces of beauty, although it had extinguished their modesty and happiness for ever. Now and then we would observe men come along with women around the corner, and slip quietly into houses. One young fellow hung his head, and could scarcely be got along with all the blandishments lavished by his companion. He walked slowly, and appeared haunted with doubt and dread. Perhaps he was thinking of home, perhaps of some pure spirit elsewhere, but at last he crossed the fatal threshold. Another and more willing victim was a gentleman, evidently drunk. One man stood so suspiciously at the corner of the entry, popping in and out, that the officers felt it their duty to go up and see who he was. He proved to be a fellow who had brought a charge the week before against an officer for using, "unnecessary violence" in the arrest of a prisoner, he had been listened to patiently in the police court, and his evidence treated as if he was one of the most respectable of men.
There is the sound of singing in one of the houses, surely there is someone living here, who, however low in circumstances, has yet the blessing of religion, it must be a hymn, hailing the advent of the Sabbath Day. We draw near, and the pleasing delusion is dispelled. The voice comes from a cellar and it is that of a young woman singing in not the best of voice the song of "Alice Grey." A man, who from appearance is a shoemaker, is standing on the cellar steps at the door, smoking a pipe, and evidently in a state of considerable elevation from drink, and on asking him the meaning of such an uproar at such an hour, he said at first [as if thought that a most conclusive apology] that it was "a wake". The superintendent descended the steps, and the fellow at first seemed inclined to dispute the passage, but seeing with whom he had to contend he became suddenly civil, and invited into the house to take share of a quart of ale which he had upon the table, which was respectfully refused. He had told a lie, it was no "wake". He then said, the young woman who was singing, who had a baby on her knee, had "just been confined" and they were having a jollification on that account. "But she should not sing at this hour, you know it is Sunday," said the superintendent. "Oh yes," answered the son of St Crispin, "but you see it was not me, it is the women, and there is no controlling them." He added, "I am going to hear Hugh Stowell BROWN in the afternoon." We hope he did, and some of the solid shot of the reverend gentleman against intemperance and other vice, would reach him, be carried home, and bear fruit. He did not seem a bad-hearted fellow, but oh, the effect of the surrounding pollution must have upon the character of all within its influence and range. What a place this would be to rear a family in, then cease to wonder at the number of juvenile offenders, a class whose existence is one of the bitterest approaches to the civilisation of the age. It is well to link cause with effect, it was Sunday, but a brewery in the neighbourhood was lighted up, although all other establishments were closed.
We next went to Prescot St bridewell, but the "drunken carters" for which it is more especially remarkable, must have been well behaved that night, as there was but one prisoner, a female, the charge against her, that of stealing a shawl from a pawnbroker's shop in Brownlow Hill. Although she had a baby with her at the breast, it appeared she was drunk when brought in, and had been so violent at first that she had to be restrained. This is one of the stations where a fire engine is kept, and two firemen were waiting with all in readiness to turn out at a moment's notice. We took leave of our guide our night's ramble was at an end, we had seen in 4 or 5 hours all those melancholy but instructive aspects of Liverpool Life with which the police have to deal.
Between 4 and 6 am each morning all the prisoners lodged in the various district bridewells are removed in closed vans kept for that purpose to the main bridewell. There are two of these conveyances, one for the north and one for the south district, and they are furnished and "worked" by the governor of the main bridewell under contract with the corporation, the same vans are used each afternoon for the conveyance of prisoners to the borough gaol at Walton. As the distance to the latter is some 4 or 5 miles and there is a railroad which goes almost to the gaol door, we were surprised to hear of the arrangement, but it appears to be the cheapest, safest and most advantageous which could be made, and no ordinary railway passengers would like to travel in the same carriage as felons, and a special carriage for prisoners would be attended with serious expense. When the vans get freighted at the various bridewells with their guilty and miserable load, they are locked and otherwise secured, but, it is not the custom to handcuff the prisoners, unless, their violence is such to call for restraint. The reception of prisoners at the main bridewell each morning forms one of the most extraordinary scenes, they are delivered in groups, in the rough, unclassified, unsorted, drunk and sober, young and old, and remain together until the various charges, etc, are entered in the books, when they are taken off and locked in the respective cells.
At the main bridewell we were particularly struck with the complete and systematic style of bookkeeping. The staff at the establishment consist of the governor, five turnkeys or searchers, three booking clerks, two description clerks, one chief clerk or cashier. The books which have to be kept are numerous, the first a "rough book" where all charges are entered, ruled into many columns for, name, age, instruction, country, and offence of every prisoner, with a statement of what property was found upon him, what officer presents the case, with all necessary general remarks. Then there is the "felon's ledger" for males, one for females, with an index book to each, two rough description books, a mark book, a special prostitutes description book and ledger, then for each sex a "disorderly book" a record book to be laid open before the magistrate in the morning, and two copies at least of which have to be made, one for the magistrate's clerk and one for the governor of the bridewell. Besides all these there is a general fine book, a daily cash book, a petty cash book, in which the cost of food supplied to destitute prisoners is entered, and many others.
One of the most laborious branches of the system of bookkeeping is that connected with the identification of prisoners, with the view of ascertaining if they have been in custody before, how often, what were the offences charged, and did the charges result in conviction at the sessions. All prisoners charged with felony and prostitutes are measured, with a view to their identification, the task is difficult and delicate and a great responsibility. "You have a megsman in one day," said one of the clerks, "with a pair of fine bushy whiskers on, the next time he comes in his face is as smooth as a parson's" Nearly all prisoners are in the habit of giving false names and addresses, thus it is that we find in every criminal calendar such an extraordinary number of aliases." "The Macs and the Joneses are the greatest trouble to us," said the clerk, "there are so many long columns to be gone through an thieves seem to know it and give those names accordingly. It is amusing, too, how often the scoundrels will give the name of the stipendiary magistrate, the governor of the bridewell, or other well-known public official There are no RUSHTON'S now but many MANSFIELDS" They probably imagine by some good patrician name there offences will be more leniently dealt with. If there is reason to believe a party of having been there before, the books are searched back 5 years with the view of tracing the former entry. They are asked a variety of questions, with the view of throwing them off guard, on giving their name they are asked instantly for their mother's Christian name, or if they have a stepfather etc, every name given is noted, so that, as their powers of invention are scarcely quick enough to give off hand a list of fictitious names, as a rule they can easily be found. "Here is one" said the clerk, "Ellen Gray, brought here on the 17th June for stealing a watch, she has several different aliases, as the names were all so different we could make nothing out by the book, but I was confident of having seen her before, that wrote to the schoolmistress of the gaol, asking if she recognised her, when answered that she did, and had good occasion to know her again" for the woman had persisted on a former imprisonment, that she had given a gold pencil case to that functionary, although it was a wicked and gross fabrication. She has now, " said the clerk, "been six times committed." The work of identification has to be got through with rapidity, in order that it may be completed in time for the opening of the court, those who doubt the necessity for a new and more commodious bridewell ought to see the little dingy closet in which that operation has to be performed.
Liverpool Mercury, August 31st, 1857
Chapter XX111, of Liverpool Life
Police, Prisoners and Prisons
Amongst the resources Jack has to kill time and relieve the monotony of existence during a dreary mid watch, or when the ship may be calm at sea, is the practice of having his arm pricked and decorated with some nautical emblem or other. Sailors are an ingenious class of men and there are sure to be some old "salts" in the crew of more than competent skill in this novel branch of decorative art. The arm is the usual limb chosen for embellishment and the figures are formed by a needle dipped in Indian ink. The tattooing, is a rather painful process, but the young are always eager for this distinction and diploma of their craft. We inspected the "Mark book" kept in the main bridewell. This consists of pen and ink sketches of the various marks which are thus found upon the arms of prisoners and of which a due record is kept for the purposes of justice. At the time of identification the number of the prisoner and his height are called out by a turnkey, and whilst one of the clerks is busy in attempting to trace out the name which is given, another, addressing the prisoner says, "Come, strip your wings" "They all know what this flash term means" said our informant, and commence at once to pull up their shirts sleeves and show their naked arms. The marks consist as in the book, of triangles, globes, suns, stars, hearts, anchors, diamonds, flags [of all countries], crosses, initials, mottoes, arrows, tombs, ships, tents, death's heads, trees, flower pots, mermaids large and small, animals and devices of every kind. The crucifixion with Christ upon the cross, appears a favourite emblem, as also the "Tree of Life" and figures of Adam and Eve. One man has had his arm pricked over with female figures and palm trees, another had a portrait of the King of Siam [in rich colours] and Queen Victoria's head, then in other cases a Burmese girl sitting upon a sailor's knee, a tomb with a Yankee flag drooping over it, and the words, "In Memory of my Sister", another tomb with the inscription, "Poor Little Fellow" the Christian monogram "J. H. S," ["That fellow was a transport" interjected our informant] a sailor standing on a rum cask waving a flag, a crucifixion with weeping Mary at the foot, and coloured bracelets on her wrist, a tomb with a seaman grasping an urn, lettered "M. L," a dog after a deer [this was a man who had spent two years as captive in the Feejee islands], another who must have been an enthusiastic O'Connellite, had blazoned in large letters his name, "James Cain," and the word "Repeal !" Many have their sweetheart's name inscribed upon their arms. Figures of nude women abound, whilst some marks are touching as mementoes, some of the artist appear to have taken their designs from some of the most indelicate models in an anatomical museum, some are well executed, quite ornate in character, and beautifully coloured. Females, especially sailor's prostitutes are not infrequently marked in this manner. Some are aware of the awkward means of identification which they have thus furnished, and attempts may occasionally be seen to obliterate the original emblem, by covering for instance an anchor with a large ship, the attempted disguise however, can always be discovered. The Mark book is such an extensive record and the prisoners who furnish such an important aid to their own identification are so numerous. In a maritime town, a vicious and ill-behaved lad is almost sure to take to sea. Then their are "duffers" and other special classes of the criminal population who can only succeed in their frauds and impositions by acting and appearing the tar.
Sunday in the bridewell is a dreary spectacle for its crowd of unhappy inmates, no Sabbath bell has tolled for them, they form no portion of the Christian community to be seen wending their way in their best attire, accompanied by their families to the house of God. Here are the revellers of the previous night, half charged with drunkenness, huddled together in constrained company, with wretches more disgusting and miserable than themselves, dirty, sick perhaps, and haunted by the tormenting thought they are prisoners, with all the conscious degradation which attaches to the name. We could sympathise, for instance, with the working man who may have been led, under the influence of some unusual temptation, to indulge in an exceptional excess. How deep must be his shame, how harrowing his thoughts in such company, in such a place. The ghost of last night's debauch rises before him, the figure of himself standing in the felon's dock on the morrow, his money vanished in the indulgence of the past night, and yet he is aware that unless he can meet the inevitable fine, further imprisonment awaits him. He will be missed from his work on Monday morning, and in all likelihood lose his situation in consequence.
We visited the bridewell on Sunday afternoon and there were 99 prisoners in, classified as follows :- Felonies, males, 17, females 12. Assaults, Males, 4 [one for biting], females, 4 [one for stabbing], Drunk and disorderly, Males 28, females 14. Drunk and booked for safety, Males 12, females 3, Begging, 1, Exposing their person, 4. We are told that 99 is a much less number than usual, the highest number which the governor can remember to have been in on Sunday morning was 165. But to the 99 there would be another 100 more prisoners added before the next morning, there are generally upwards of 200 prisoners for trial every Monday.
Ever since he took office Major GREIG our present head constable has been in the habit of visiting the main bridewell every Sunday afternoon, we were fortunate to be there at the time of one of his visits. On some of these visits he is accompanied by a clergyman, his object to see the prisoners personally and give them a few words of kindly admonition. The prisoners were paraded for the purpose in their respective cells, to the unmarried females, nearly all prostitutes brought in on charges of drunken and disorderly conduct, the head constable pointed out the misery and premature death which wait on such a vicious course of life. He said that, commiserating their fallen condition, he had given his officers orders not to weigh upon them unduly in the discharge of their duties, at the same time he was determined to repress disorder, and they might depend upon suffering if they did not carefully avoid it in future. Addressing the men brought in on the same charge of drunkenness and violence, "Here" he said, "you are all dirty and unshaven, and this clean-shirt day. It is beautiful sunshine outside, and people are walking freely about, whilst you have had to be brought in here. I am sorry to see you, sir," addressing a very old man among the offenders, "in such a place. You certainly ought to be elsewhere on the Sabbath, and spending differently the small remainder of your time."
Many of the prisoners were evidently impressed with the considerations thus pithily presented to them, they were all more or less penitent or ashamed, many of the females had wept [our put their aprons to their eyes as if they were weeping]. We were told by the superintendent the night before that those who would be lions then would be lambs the next day, there was now no occasion for handcuffs or restraint. Bail is permissible on a Sunday morning at a certain hour, but at no other period during the day. The friends of prisoners are allowed to send them in food, breakfast between 8 and 9am, dinner at any time, and tea between 6 and 8pm. But there is a restriction as to the kind of food, it must be dry bread with tea or coffee for breakfast and tea, and bread and cold meat for dinner. Before these regulations the bridewell was more like an in than a prison, and those who had the means could send out and get whatever they desired. A bed could also be had if there were means to pay for it. One fast young man who had been locked up there once under the old regime was brought in again and was appalled when he heard he could get no bed there now. Very large sums of money from 50 to 500 pounds are occasionally found upon prisoners who are brought in and booked for safety, and such parties have reason to rejoice in their capture. We observe in a cell by themselves 5 young boys, all detained on charges of felony, and one of these appeared so superior in his style of dress and manner that we could not but inquire into the particulars of his offence. Reserving only the name, in consideration for the feelings of his relatives and friends who still reside in Liverpool or the neighbourhood, we gave the circumstances of the case as they transpired in the police court the following morning.
Robbing bathers pockets at the Pierhead Baths
A. H. a smart looking youth, dressed as a midshipman, with a gold band round his cap, was placed in the dock ------- Officer 603 stated that the prisoner was given in charge between 8 and 9am on Sunday, by Mr MORRIS, superintendent of the baths in St George's Pierhead, for stealing 27s, from the pocket of a gentleman who was bathing there. Mr MORRIS stated that a gentleman missed 1s from his pocket on Wednesday, after getting out of the bath, on Thursday another gentleman missed 30s. The prisoner was observed in the baths on both occasions. On Friday the prisoner came twice into the baths but was watched, and nothing was missed. On Saturday morning he again came in, after he had gone two gentlemen complained one had missed 15s, the other missed 5s. On Saturday afternoon the prisoner again came in, but he was closely watched for an hour, so went away and nothing was missed. Mr MORRIS being certain that the prisoner was the thief marked 27s, and gave them to a gentleman undressing in the same room. Soon afterwards all the money was missed from the gentleman's pocket, and the marked money was found in the prisoner's pocket as he was going away. Mr MORRIS said they had not had a robbery in the baths before, excepting one, since he had been in charge of them. Mr GOODEGE who appeared on behalf of the prisoner pleaded guilty, but appealed to the mercy of the court, as this was the first offence. It was fearful to see the young man in his present position, as he was respectably connected. He had been to sea and was intending to go again shortly. Mr MANSFIELD ordered him to be imprisoned for 14 days, and then removed to the Akbar for five years.
There is a sad and romantic interest in this case. The father of the prisoner was a gentleman a few years ago well known in Liverpool, and a governor of one of the largest establishments which the corporation has under its control, at a salary of 400 to 500 pounds a year. He was a man of very strong and unbridled passions, and although married, with a family, was detected in a criminal intrigue with the schoolmistress of the establishment, and pretending to be called from home on official business, was found rusticating with her, under guilty circumstances, in a quiet little town in North Wales. The discovery of course led to instant dismissal. The guilty father left England for California, leaving his wife and family to struggle with the world, and one of the results we doubtless see in the fate of the poor boy before us. It is as if the child of a former governor of the borough gaol should himself reach the same low level as the prisoners whom it was his father's duty to control and correct.
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