Have you ever wondered how the London’s Metropolitan Police catch the bad guys? Now is your chance to find out.
The Museum of London are hosting a sobering exhibition: The Crime Museum Uncovered. This is a collection which has never been seen publicly before as it is part of the Crime Museum within New Scotland Yard which is accessible to members of the Met police or other police forces which are involved in crime.
The exhibition highlights the tools and techniques the police used to catch criminals and to keep Londoners safe. Subjects covered include terrorism, espionage, fraud, drugs and abortion demonstrating fine examples of great policing over the last 140 years.
There are twenty four individual criminal cases, some being famous (Ruth Ellis 1955) and other infamous (Ronnie & Reggie Kray 1967). Criminal cases were chosen for creating catalysts in detection methods but also cases which changed the law or caused new methods of forensics to be used.
Even though many cases exhibited are in living memory (the Acid Bath Murderer 1949, Ronnie & Reggie Kray 1967 and Glasgow Airport Terrorist attack 2007) I was particularly taken with the crimes from the early 1800s through to early 1900s. Including the cases of Victorian Angel Maker Amelia Dyer (1886) which we cover on our Murderers and Martyrs in Farrington walk which includes the rope by which she was hanged and also Edwardian Wife Murderer Dr Hawley Harley Crippen, 1910 which we cover in our Heretics and Horrors in Smithfield tour.
The strength of this exhibition is its sensitivity to the sobering fact that these artefacts and stories are about real crimes involving real people. I do feel they could have explored the subject of illegal abortions further and also highlighted that a large proportion of victims were women, often being murdered in their own homes. Keep your eyes open for the 50,000 volt taser disguised as a mobile phone and the tiny handcuffs reputed to have been worn by the notorious thief Jack Sheppard which held captive in Newgate Prison.
“The evolution of London’s police force plays a fascinating part in the history of our city. Many of the policing methods now used by forces all over the world were developed here in the capital by our pioneering policing techniques. This exhibition will bring this story alive, in some instances out from behind closed doors for the first time, allowing us to reflect on the victims at the centre of each of these cases and learn more about how the creativity of the past has shaped the way the police work today.” Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London.
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