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Police Officers

 

 Police officers

Even though Holmes became the patron of all literary detectives that came after him, he didn't consider himself as one. He thought of himself as a higher form of a sleuth.

"Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose I am the only one in the world. I'm a consulting detective, if you can understand what that is. Here in London we have lots of Government detectives and lots of private ones. When these fellows are at fault they come to me, and I manage to put them on the right scent. They lay all the evidence before me, and I am generally able, by the help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to set them straight." [STUD]

As a consulting detective he came in contact with official police forces. The relationship of Holmes and the men of the law was however cavalier. He considered them to be (and maybe rightfully so) men without fantasy, just doing everything as their orders say, although they were necessary in order for Holmes to have an access to more interesting cases1. The Scotland yard soon enough found out that they need Holmes too. Policemen often visited Baker Street and asked for detective's advices, even before Watson joined him, and uncertainty covered by light disdain [REDH] soon changed.

The official stance of official places, mostly conveyed by newspapers, usually were not thrilled to give Holmes credit or even mention him at all [STUD], however detective's ambition was satisfied by published notes of his friend Watson. Policemen soon not only respect Holmes, but also recognize him as utmost instance, to which they came in times of need.

 

Following summary notes all policemen, who participated in Holmes' cases. Most of the time they assisted only by looking from afar. Only five men of the law had the opportunity to work with Baker Street detective more than once.

 

Lestrade

cases: STUD, BOSC, NOBL, EMPT, NORW, CHAS, SIXN, SECO, HOUN, CARD, BRUC, LADY, 3GAR

Holmes' closest colleague and friend is (together with Gregson) called "the pick of a bad lot" by him [STUD]. Even though he was quite intolerant at first, he soon changed his opinion on Holmes and Baker Street became a place where he went whenever he needed advice or, later, just to talk [SIXN]. He is short, used to be slim (however, with years he put on some weight) and resembles a bulldog [SECO; HOUN]. He is fond of dressing properly and carries a gun in a back pocket of his trousers [HOUN]. His confidence as well as his rivalry with Tobias Gregson is well known [STUD]. He believes more in practice than in theory [NOBL] . His friendship with Holmes is best shown when detective returns from his secret exile after the adventures with Professor Moriarty and prepares a trap for Colonel Moran. Lestrade himself lead the investigation from the police's side [EMPT]. Sherlock Holmes in return dubbed him the best of Scotland Yard's detectives [HOUN], even though he used to call Gregson this way. [STUD].

 

Tobias Gregson

cases:STUD, GREE, WIST, REDC

According to Holmes, Gregson was quite a good detective [STUD]. Tall, fair-haired and pale [STUD]. He was also remarkably brave and determined [REDC]. He boasts that similarily to Holmes, his main tool is his brain [STUD], however Gregson's deductions often do not lead the right way, even though he is very proud of them. [STUD]

At first he underestimated Holmes, as did his rival Lestrade, but it seems that he did so only to save face and he depended on detective's help. For example he left a crime scene intact until Holmes arrived [STUD]. He held important position in Scotland Yard and belonged to the group of people that Holmes needed to contact in order to gain access to inspection of suspect's house in the case of the Greek interpreter. He acquired the permission to do so, however even with the presence of Mycroft Holmes, it took them an hour to get to Gregson [GREE].

 

Athelney Jones

cases: SIGN, REDH2

A prototype of the arrogant police officer, who in the end bow down before Holmes' ingenuity and mutter sincere apologies. He was the third of highly valued officers of Scotland Yard towards the end of 19th century. They complimented each other even with their physical appearance. Lestrade was small, Gregson tall and Jones was podgy [SIGN; REDH]. Even he often visited Baker Street for an advice [SIGN]. In his eyes Holmes was only a theoretician, whose deductions can sometimes by chance guide real policemen to the right track [SIGN]. He valued his own wit, believed only in factual leads and despised theory [SIGN].

In his private life Jones was a sociable person, so joking on Holmes' account was, as with his colleagues, nothing but boosting his own ego, shocked by capabilities of Baker Street detective.

 

Inspector Bradstreet

cases: TWIS, ENGR, BLUE

An ordinary officer serving in Bow Street (B Division [BLUE]) for twenty-seven years. Holmes revealed in front of him that ugly beggar accused of murder of Mr. Neville St. Claire is actually Neville St. Claire himself [TWIS].

He never tried to hide his admiration for Holmes' deductions [TWIS].

 

Inspector Gregory

cases: SILV

A capable detective, who, according to Holmes lacks one thing: fantasy.

 

Inspector Forrester

cases: REIG

Holmes cooperated well with young Reigate inspector, even though Forrester assumed that London detective had not fully recovered from his nervous breakdown, which was the reason why he was in Reigate. Soon he had to change his assumption.

 

Inspector Lanner

cases: RESI

Another ordinary policeman, who wholeheartedly welcomes Holmes' presence.

 

Forbes

cases: NAVA

Young detective of small stature and intelligent expression acted reserved towards Holmes at first. He was informed by his older colleagues, that Baker Street detective always uses police's investigation and then presents results as his own. When he found out that from fifty-three cases that Holmes worked on, his name appeared only four times, he changed his opinion on him and accepted detective's help.

 

Inspector Martin

cases: DANC

Lively man of a small stature properly dressed with a waxed moustache. No, this is not Hercule Poirot in his younger years. This policeman from Norfolk was excited by Holmes' presence and left investigation in his hands.

 

Stanley Hopkins

cases: BLAC, GOLD, ABBE

Stanley Hopkins was a criminal investigator, who was formed by Holmes to his own image. Relation between them was one of a teacher and a student and Hopkins was not afraid to admit it. His zealousness often leads him towards false conclusions [BLAC], but he always humbly submitted to his master's deductions [BLAC]. He never asked for Holmes' help without reason [ABEE] and that strengthened his belief in perspectives of this young inspector.

 

Alec MacDonald

cases: VALL

Practical, nitpicking and stubborn Scotsman speaking with Aberdeen accent. Later he became famous, however he was a competent inspector even at the start of his career. Tall, bony, with bushy eyebrows and gifted with physical strength and keen intelect. He was not embarrassed to ask for Holmes' advice and detective from Baker Street, otherwise not very sociable, started to like MacDonald.

 

Inspector Baynes

cases: WIST

Chubby police officer from Surrey with smart eyes hidden in fatty face. He pleasantly surprised Holmes with his methodicalness, thoroughness and cunning, because the detective was not expecting rural detectives to possess these values.

 

Inspector Morton

cases: DYIN

Holmes' and Watson's old acquaintance from Scotland Yard.

 

Sergeant Coventry

cases: THOR

A police officer from Hampshire, tall and slim. He was calm and very soft-spoken, but still giving impression of an honest person. He welcomed Holmes more than he did Scotland Yard, because it was common for London policemen to hog all the credit, while Holmes never did that.

 

Inspector Bardle and Constable Anderson

cases: LION

Bardle was a policeman from Sussex, clumsy, but even-tempered and reliable. At the time he asked Holmes for help, and it was nothing any British detective should be ashamed of. Ginger moustached constable Anderson, his subordinate, shared same properties. Both of them, however, asked for help off the record.

 

Inspector MacKinnon

cases: RETI

Inspector MacKinnon was quite displeased that Holmes and other personal detectives could use methods, that official policemen could not. He was afraid that Holmes would tell the entire world how police forces are unbelievably slow and incompetent, however he was assured that this would not happen. A boastful article in North Surrey Observer was sufficient satisfaction for him.

 

Even though relations of Holmes and police officer were not always great, after every successful case Holmes got the admiration he deserved. The best example of this is Lestrade's speech in The Adventure of Six Napoleons.

 

“Well,” said Lestrade, “I’ve seen you handle a good many cases, Mr. Holmes, but I don’t know that I ever knew a more workmanlike one than that. We’re not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down tomorrow there’s not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn’t be glad to shake you by the hand.” [SIXN]

 

Notes:

1This is where Holmes differs from for example Hercule Poirot, who always acted with respect towards police officers and treated them as his equal. If we disregard the fact, that he as a foreigner needed their trust in order to get access to informations, that police got by official investigating, main reason for this may be the fact, that Poirot used to work as a police officer.

2 Doctor Watson states the name of the policeman from that case Peter, however judging from description it is actually Athelney Jones. Peter may be his middle name.

 

7.5.2019 (24. 1. 2010)

Illustration by Sidney Paget (1860 – 1908) from The Adventure of the Empty House (1903).

 

 

 

"Things just happen. What the hell."
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* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather

 

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