Police chief gives thanks for support

SUFFOLK'S top policeman has formally thanked those who supported the county's force during the inquiry into the murders of five women in Ipswich.Chief constable Simon Ash praised the “vital part” played by various individuals and organisations - and highlighted The Evening Star's investigations and reports - which helped to bring Steve Wright to justice.

SUFFOLK'S top policeman has formally thanked those who supported the county's force during the inquiry into the murders of five women in Ipswich.

Chief constable Simon Ash praised the “vital part” played by various individuals and organisations - and highlighted The Evening Star's investigations and reports - which helped to bring Steve Wright to justice.

His words of appreciation came at a presentation ceremony staged at Glemham Hall yesterday, which was attended by representatives from all 40 police forces which assisted in the Operation Sumac investigation, businesses, community figures and scores of dedicated officers from Suffolk.

Certificates of appreciation were given to business and partner agencies including councils, drycleaners, phone companies, printing companies and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Ash said: “At the time I was deputy chief constable in Hertfordshire so I was watching events unfurl with everyone else across the country.

“From my perspective as somebody now at the head of the constabulary, I can only begin to imagine the pressure my predecessor Alistair McWhirter was facing at the time, with a serial killer on the loose.

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“It was a whole force effort because as well as this investigation, Suffolk still had to be provided with a basic day to day policing service.”

Wright, 50, formerly of London Road, was jailed for life after a jury found him guilty of murdering Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.

Mr Ash said: “We are very mindful of the need to remember and think of the five young women who so prematurely lost their lives, and of course their families and friends.

“Since arriving in Suffolk in June last year I have had the opportunity to speak to many people about their experiences and memories of that time and have been able to get a sense of what it was like.

“I have particularly noticed and have been enormously impressed by the real community spirit that exists in Suffolk, everyone showing they are willing to go the extra mile.

“That community spirit and sense of togetherness was one of the key aspects to have emerged from Sumac and is something the county and its people can be very proud of.”

In all, 300 officers and staff from 40 forces came to Suffolk during the investigation, 7,500 CCTV related exhibits were seized, more than 13,000 calls were received from the public, in excess of 65,000 documents were examined, while media requests came from as far away as America, Japan and Australia.

Were you impressed with the community response? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk