INSPECTOR FREDERICK ABBERLINE
It was decided early on in the Jack the Ripper case that the local detective force would benefit from the involvement of experienced officers from Scotland Yard.
Walter Dew, who was a young detective officer with H division at the time of the murders and who in time would rise through the ranks and achieve fame as the man who arrested wife murderer Dr. Hawley, Harvey Crippen, was based throughout the murders at Commercial Street Police Station.
In his memoirs I Caught Crippen Dew mentioned how Chief Inspector Moore, Inspector Abberline and Inspector Andrews were sent from Scotland Yard to head the on the ground investigation, “assisted, of course, by a large number of officers of subordinate rank.” Dew’s memory appears to have been a little faulty, as at the time Moore was only a detective inspector.
The senior officer of the three was in fact Inspector Abberline, and it was he who was in overall charge of the on the ground investigation.
In his memoirs Dew had this to say about his old boss:-
"Inspector Abberline was portly and gentle speaking. The type of police officer - and there have been many - who might easily have been mistaken for the manager of a bank or a solicitor. He also was a man who had proved himself in many previous big cases.His strong suit was his knowledge of crime and criminals in the East End, for he had been for many years the detective-inspector of the Whitechapel Division, or as it was called then the "Local Inspector". Inspector Abberline was my chief when I first went to Whitechapel. He left only on promotion to the Yard, to the great regret of myself and others who had served under him. No question at all of Inspector Abberline's abilities as a criminal hunter."
Inspector Frederick George Abberline was 45 years old in 1888, a portly and balding officer who wore a thick moustache and bushy side whiskers.
He had already spent fourteen years as a detective with H division and had gained an unrivalled knowledge of the area’s streets and criminals.
Toby praised him as:-
"A well known East Ender…[to whom] scores of persons are indebted…He has a decent amount of curiosity, and has been known to stop gentlemen at the most unholy times and places and enquire about their health and work – questions which are often settled by a magistrate, generally in Mr Abberline’s favour.”
The previous year Abberline’s dedication and service were recognised with a promotion to Central Office at Scotland Yard, and a farewell dinner was held for him in December 1887 at the Unicorn Tavern, on Shoreditch High Street.
But he had barely settled in to his new position when it was decided that his knowledge of the East End villains was just what was needed in the hunt for the Whitechapel Murderer, and so in early September 1888, he found himself recalled to his old stomping ground of Spitalfields and Whitechapel.