1885 Map showing Police Station in Bastion Square, UBC Specal collections G 3514-V5G475 1885 s2.  For a larger version, go to the Maps section. Bastion Square Jail, 1870s, BCA: G-04524

The reaction to the murder of Constable Cochrane was fairly uniform among the press, the police, and the public. Just as was the case with most other crimes in Victoria around this time, many people attributed blame to the local Native population, despite there being little or no evidence to suggest this. Despite there being thousands of transient miners in the city at the time, the only direction that the investigation took seems to have involved people of color or non-English speaking immigrants. Each of the three suspects that were targeted fits this bill and each was soon released after it was realized that there was no evidence to suggest that any of these men were involved.

The reaction of the police and the press to this crime and their desire to attribute it to a parade of minority suspects is fairly important as it is indicitive of both the social context of the era as well as the lack of professionalism of the Victoria police force at the time. It illustrates that the police of Victoria, who were largely unprofessional constables, were wholly unprepared for the changes that the gold rush and its ensuing population influx brought.to the city and its society. Even a cursory reading of the newspapers of the day reveals the lawlessness that appeared to rule in a city that had prided itself on the rule of law and order. The police proved to be unable to solve this crime, and judging by newspaper accounts many others as well, which eventually caused the public to shift blame onto faceless and nameless minority populations in the absence of actual suspects. By blaming an impersonal, outside force such as the Aboriginal population for the crimes, Victorians were able to insulate themselves from having to confront their changing society and the new realities that the gold rush brought with it, instead focusing on reducing the rights of First Nations in a vain attempt to curb the increase in crime that had occurred.