Thanks to Dr. Conan Doyle, the public are quite familiar with the inductive method of investigating anything criminal or otherwise; and the host of private inquiry agents and amateurs of the Sherlock Holmes type have possibly obscured the fact that in New Scotland Yard there is the Criminal Investigation Department doing an immense amount of, necessarily unrecognized, but highly beneficent, work.
It has been called the “clearinghouse” for the United Kingdom and the colonies, as regards crime; but its most interesting department is the “Political,” which transacts affairs of State importance, such as the safeguarding of Royalty and of Cabinet Ministers, the arrest of anarchists and revolutionists, and the investigation of charges of treason.
It is composed of some forty picked men, acting under Mr. Melville’s direction, who are in daily communication with the police department of every foreign Government, and certain members are frequently despatched on secret missions abroad.
This special department was formed in 1883, at the time of the dynamite outrages; and unfortunately of late its services have been more and more called into requisition to counteract the hidden forces of anarchism.
A notion used to prevail at Scotland Yard that detectives ought to be of superior education, and so in Sir Howard Vincent’s time the experiment was tried of employing men who had not been previously trained as constables; but it proved a failure, and now any one ambitious of becoming a detective has to go through all the stages of apprenticeship and training until in the ordinary way, as a policeman in uniform, he becomes thoroughly acquainted with London.
Mere theory is not encouraged at the Yard; hypnotists and thought-readers are not appreciated; what is required are healthy, practical, very intelligent, and experienced men.
Of this class was Mr. Henry Moore, who retired in 1899 after nearly thirty-one years’ service, during which period he was prominently concerned in most of the notorious cases that even yet have not died out of public recollection, such as that of Dr. Lamson who poisoned his school-boy cousin; Jack the Ripper; the Langtry jewel case, and the affair of the silver ingot robbery, when he ran a very distinct risk of being killed by the robbers had they penetrated his disguise.
He relates a curious case of presentiment or thought-reading, call it what you will.
A man was arrested for fraud, and as he stood in the dock at the police court, Mr. Moore felt convinced that he had something dangerous upon him.
He had been searched, but Mr. Moore had him searched again – still without result.
Not being able to get rid of the presentiment, he then had him stripped – and in his sock was found a little bottle of poison which no doubt he intended to make use of.
In 1900 a suitable application would secure permission to inspect New Scotland Yard, that curious-looking building on the Thames Embankment, close to Westminster Bridge; or the police-stations which, as a rule, are models of their kind; the most representative, perhaps, being the chief Thames police-station at Wapping, where some sensational facts may be learnt; the one at Cloak Lane, off Cannon Street, City; and those of Vine Street, Piccadilly, and High Street, Southwark.