Dr Phillips - Police Surgeon-Whitechapel Murders
Dr Phillips – Police Surgeon-Whitechapel Murders

During the 19th Century forensic medicine was still in its infancy and crime scene investigations were very basic.

There were no CSI personnel until the 20th century. Biological samples, such as blood could not be accurately identified; and there was no reliable method of testing blood stains to determine if they were of a human origin. Some of the scientific analysis of ‘evidential’ samples was carried out by chemists such as Rimmingtons’ of Bradford. A medical practitioner or police surgeon was the nearest thing to a forensic scientist the police had to assist them in their investigations. Police surgeons did however carry out post mortem examination of bodies to determine whether foul play had occurred. Even that area of investigation was limited to a doctor’s experience.

The Police surgeon also had a welfare role. Victorian police officers were often subject to violence and faced long hours working in harsh conditions. They faced the same illnesses and diseases as the rest of the of the urban population. The local Watch Committees created the position of Police Surgeon in order to look after the health of its officers and to be available to examine prisoners should they be taken ill in police custody.

One of the first professionally appointed police surgeons was Dr Lodge.

sam lodge
Dr Samuel Lodge Bradford Police Surgeon 1874-1903

Dr Samuel Lodge

Samuel Lodge was born in Whitney near Oxford in 1824. He was the eldest of a large family and from a very early age set his sights on a career in the medical profession. Despite being a hard working scholar he decided to make his own way in the world. He undertook a medical pupillage with a Dr Field a Bradford GP with a practice in Dudley Hill. In 1859 he received his formal medical qualifications.

In 1863 he successfully applied for the post of Medical Officer of the third district of the Bradford Poor-law Union a post which he retained until his retirement in 1903.

In 1874 he was appointed as Surgeon for the Bradford Borough Police. He was accommodated in the newly built Town Hall adjacent to the police department and cell area.   His surgery was well placed to enable him to treat both police officers and prisoners alike who had been either injured or taken ill. He also undertook post mortem examinations and attended the scenes of serious crimes or industrial fatalities. He held the post for over 30 years and carried out his duties with great distinction.

He was involved in several murder investigations and carried out investigations into various public health issues that arose in the district during that period. He wrote: Post Mortem Examination on a Man who dies from So-called Woolworkers Disease.