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Byline: Tom Slemen

WHEN did you last see your neighbourhood bobby on his beat? Once upon a time in Liverpool, every neighbourhood was patrolled by a policeman, and what a magnificent system it was.

At a certain hour, a file of constables -mostly ex-military servicemen - would emerge, led by a sergeant, and march along the kerb. At certain points, the policemen began their assigned beats.

These beats, which could take 15-30 minutes, were coordinated so they interlocked with other beats, so that PC Smith would reach a certain point on London Road where he would see PC Jones, and so on.

Despite the widespread police presence, north Liverpool was hit by a crimewave in the late 1880s, when the infamous High Rip Gang and Logwood Gang turned districts around Scotland Road into a no-go area.

The most infamous part of High Rip territory was "The Long Jigger", a lengthy alleyway on Cazneau Street. People foolish enough to take a short cut down the jigger were mugged and usually left for dead. Victims included a wrestler and a pugilist, and the latter was floored by three female members of the High Rip Gang, who looked so fetching with their trademark flowers in their hair... until they punched and kicked the boxer unconscious.

One night in 1886, two professional street-fighters from Belfast were hired by the beleaguered shopkeepers of Scotland Road to give a good hiding to two High Rippers at their homes on Bevington Hill, but even the hard men from across the Irish Sea were no match for the gangsters, and the two Irishmen were found bruised, bloodied and groaning in the gutter with empty money-belts and torn clothes.

Years before, in the 1870s, the High Rip had come to prominence nationally when two of their members brutally kicked a doctor to death on Tithebarn Street. The two gang-members, named McCrave and Mullen, were

caught and hanged at Kirkdale, but this did not deter the High Rip. The gang thrived as the police on their beats were subjected to constant attacks and threats.

The High Rip gained the upper hand with the reduced police presence, and the law-abiding people of north Liverpool prayed for salvation. In 1886, their prayers were answered.

Mr Justice Day - or "Judgement Day" as he was known - arrived on the scene. Justice Day was enraged at the lax treatment of the High Rip Gang problem, and told the people of Liverpool that it was time to fight fire with fire. Lenience was now a thing of the past.

Sentences of penal servitude now became sentences of hard labour, with the criminal receiving 25 strokes from the cat-o'-nine-tails when he went into prison, and 25 strokes when he came out. Few went back to jail.

During Justice Day's term, 137 criminals in Liverpool received 3,766 lashes from his 'cat'. The death sentence was also passed on six members of the High Rip, a severe blow to the organised mobs of the 'north-end'.

The police declared war on the High Rip Gang, and began to reclaim their territory on Scotland Road, but that was only possible when a fearless goliath of a policeman led the way. I will tell you the tale about this incredibly brave bobby next week.
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 6, 2006
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