Massive public response to appeals
More than 2000 calls have been made to the hotline for the Suffolk prostitute murder inquiry.But the man heading the inquiry said police still need more information on the last movements of the five women found dead in recent days.
More than 2000 calls have been received to the Suffolk prostitutes murder inquiry hotline but the police still need more help.
Between 6am and 11pm yesterday Suffolk police got 2199 calls. It is getting support from forces across East Anglia to cope.
More than 40 officers have been drafted in from other police forces.
Det Chief Supt Stewart Gull said that police have had fantastic support from the public and the media, but detectives still need more information on the last movements of the five murdered women.
“The response from the public has been massive. Our task now is to sift through a vast quantity of information. However, it is vitally important that people continue to ring in if they have information,” he said.
“We have significant gaps between when the women were last seen and the discovery of their bodies. We need to find out where the women were in those times.”
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He said the police would continue to track down punters who have visited Ipswich's red light district and said they should contact the police before “we come knocking at their door”.
He said a £250,000 reward for information offered by a national newspaper was the largest ever.
Gull admitted the inquiry was being hampered because police are unable to establish what clothes were on the girls.
“The transient nature of these girls lives is sometimes chaotic and we are struggling to determine what they were wearing,” he said.
DCS Gull said the two bodies found yesterday at Levington would remain on scene for most of the day before post mortem examinations at Ipswich Hospital.
Formal identification is unlikely to take place today.
DCS Gull acknowledged some might find the decision to keep the bodies at the scene “callous” but said it was important to gather as much evidence as possible before moving the bodies.
DCS Gull said he was keeping an “open mind” over links to other murders but said it was not a major part of the inquiry.
He said that the force was working with a psychological profiler and revealed that preliminary work had been carried out even before the discovery of the bodies of Gemma Adams and Tania Nicols.
He said the inquiry was still very fast moving and said he had to proceed with caution before linking the murder cases, warning that it could cause difficulties for the investigation and later prosecutions to link them too early.
He admitted there were many missing pieces to the jigsaw.
“We have not found what would appear to be murder sites, we are dealing with sites that appear to be deposition sites where the bodies were left and dumped,” he said.
“We are making the best use of experts in this country. We will consider European and north American colleagues if necessary.
“We will be working 24/7 in order to process these cases.
“We have had a number of decent pieces of information coming in, in response to all the girls.”
He said the police were continuing to work to safeguard prostitutes, and called on them to keep off the streets.
“Over night we have received reports of three more missing prostitutes in the area but police inquiries have found them safe and well.
“If is important that any missing prostitute or woman is reported so we can look into them straight away.”
He said he understood the pressures on prostitutes to keep working but that their safety should be paramount.
He confirmed that no sex workers or their customers would face charges.
“We have given clear assurances from day one, I have got one priority and that is to find the person or persons responsible for the deaths of these girls. I am not interested in any soliciting or curb crawling,” said DCS Gull.
He added that the force was working closely with local council staff, drug and outreach workers to support vice girls and the wider community but said the speed and magnitude of events had shocked all.
“I was in a meeting at 3 o'clock yesterday. We were dealing with the murders of Tania, Gemma and Anneli and when we heard the breaking news [of the discovery of two new bodies] we were stunned into silence.”
He also reassured the people of Suffolk that normal day to day policing was continuing despite the pressures of the inquiry, which he said was unprecedented nationally as well as regionally.
- The Suffolk police hotline number is 0800 0961011.