In 1906, Arthur took a policeman to court who he had seen committing a violent
crime against an innocent man. This demonstrated the awful nature of not only
this man (PC Ashford) but also of the policemen who subsequently tried to get
Arthur convicted of crimes he didn’t commit.
The Prevention of Crime Act of the period aimed, unsurprisingly, to prevent crime.
It did this by creating a category of criminal known as the ‘suspected person’
which applied to anybody with two offences or more. Arthur had received two jail
terms in quick succession when he was just 15 years old meaning that he could
be charged under the Act and had to prove his innocence rather than the courts
having to prove his guilt. This is exactly what happened to Arthur in 1909.
One policeman who Arthur believed was not in the job for his moral sense of responsibility,
was Detective Sergeant ‘Jew Boy’ Stevens. On Arthur’s trip to Clark’s Coffee Shop
one morning, he was seized and taken in as a suspected person, suspected of picking
pockets. The charges were utterly false, but several plain clothed policemen,
led by Detective Sergeant Stevens, swore to the charges and landed Arthur a twelve
month jail term.
Previously, Arthur had been suspected for the shooting of a young girl, something
which would have carried a life sentence. Had the police decided to frame him,
he could have easily been in prison for twenty years or more, but luckily two
witnesses came forth and explained that Arthur had nothing to do with the event
except that he was spotted running away from the gunshots.
Debatably, the police had too much power under The Prevention of Crime Act, and
many argued that it could easily be abused. Arthur believed that the act was used
against him by the policemen that didn’t look favourably upon him because they
could place a charge under a false pretence. This act has now been abolished.
Bribery was not in any way uncommon. Many gangsters hoping to earn money through
illicit activities relied on their close relationship with the police to create
a secure environment under which to function. One such man was Jimmy Watts, who
ensured a stable illegal business environment by being a police informer, trading
criminals for protection and leaving him untouchable by both the police and any
gangster since his power stretched both ways. The police would also take bribes
from gangsters if they thought that by allowing one type of criminal activity,
they would prevent crime in other areas. For example, by allowing the Jewish spielers
to run as illegal gambling houses, they could keep an eye on all the potentially
dangerous anarchists that went there.
Add a comment