Shoppers out despite fears

DESPITE fears for safety in Ipswich following the horrific murders of five women, it seems that life is still going on and Christmas is still very much in the spotlight.

DESPITE fears for safety in Ipswich following the horrific murders of five women, it seems that life is still going on and Christmas is still very much in the spotlight.

On Saturday the town centre was packed with shoppers gearing up for the festive season - but a stark reminder of the last fortnights grim events was still in evidence as police and Ipswich MP Chris Mole passed out safety leaflets offering advice.

Among their bags of Christmas presents thousands of women also bought rape alarms and took free leaflets from the community safety team temporarily situated in the Cornhill over the weekend.

Mr Mole said: “We have had a huge deal of interest in what we are doing.

“Every other person is stopping, 95 per cent are taking a leaflet and three quarters of women are buying an alarm.

“People were very frightened but the mood in the town seems to be moving on. People are now determined to get on with their lives and there's a bit of a Dunkirk spirit developing.

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“They have received the message and to take their personal safety very carefully, but people do want to enjoy their Christmas without what's gone on hanging over them.”

One Warren Heath resident who bought a rape alarm said the horrific murders had unsettled Ipswich.

She said: “Even though I know I don't fall into the catchment you don't know what he might turn to next.

“We don't live far from Levington and Nacton. It's very unsettling.

“I just came across two youngsters and they said it's not worth going out because of what's going on. You tend to think of youngsters as fearless but this shows what has happened has knocked everyone's confidence.”

But while safety concerns remain, it seems people are still heading out to the streets at night.

On Saturday night, town pubs were filled with people.

Becky Johnson, supervisor at the Cock and Pye in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich said: “It has been a really busy weekend and everyone has been in the festive spirit.”

And in the shops there has been no signs that shoppers are unwilling to come to the town.

John Kyprianou, store manager at Marks and Spencer in Westgate Street said: “There has been no change in trade, in fact sales are up on this time last year.

“No-one is shopping any differently but you do sense people being a bit more wary.”

Mr Kyprianou said his staff have been provided with panic alarms if they want them and an extra security guard has been placed on duty to walk with staff to the bus station or car parks if they want.

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