12 December 2006


And now it's even worse. The third corpse has been identified as another young woman who had been on the game in Ipswich, and two more dead bodies of young women have been found outside the town near Levington, a village with a marina and a pub that does good posh food.

The police media operation is now quite sharp, and the "red light district" around the football ground is, I'm told, now swarming with boys in blue and TV crews and no one else. The suspicion that the cops didn't grasp the seriousness of the situation until rather late remains: if indeed one of the newly discovered bodies is that of a girl last seen on Saturday, there's a question whether there was a serious surveillance failure.

But I'm sure they're watching the CCTV footage as I write, and all anyone wants is for the murderer or murderers to be caught. I don't know what Leeds was like during the Yorkshire Ripper's reign of terror, but Ipswich has reacted to this calamity with dignity and decency.

The town's evening paper, the Evening Star, is offering a £50,000 as a bounty for catching what looks like the single perpetrator, but much more prominent are the pages given over to sympathetic profiles of the dead girls and to readers offering condolences to their loved ones. I don't remember the Yorkshire Post being anything other than sensationalist over the Ripper murders, but I could be wrong.

It's so weird that this is happening here — a year ago Suffolk was declared the safest county in England on the basis of crime statistics. For me personally Ipswich has been an unthreatening and benign place since my childhood and adolescence. Now we're in Murder County UK, and we can't do anything about it. I've never been a great enthusiast for minute's silences at football games, but one at Portman Road on Saturday, when Ipswich play Leeds, would be extraordinarily cathartic.

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