The Illustrated Police News was one of the earliest British tabloid newspapers. Built around garish reports and still more garish illustrations, it focused on issues of crime and punishment in London to the exclusion of all else. Published from 1864 to 1938, the popularity of the Police News was never higher – nor its reputation lower – than during the three-year period of the Whitechapel Murders (1888-91), in which East London was stalked by a serial killer of women known as ‘Jack The Ripper’.
The Whitechapel Murders are among the most notorious unsolved killings of the modern era. Most responsible reports put the final death toll at eleven women over three years, most of them prostitutes. The murders inadvertently drew attention to the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions of East London’s tenant estates, leading to the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, the Public Health Amendment Act 1890, and the eventual demolition of the Whitechapel slums.