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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 14:38 GMT
Red light still burns in Ipswich
By Claire Gibson
BBC News

A prostitute
Police say far fewer women are now working on Ipswich's streets
Most nights Paige can be found near the statue of Sir Alf Ramsey next to Ipswich's football ground. She stands just out of sight of one of the many CCTV cameras that pepper the town's red light district.

Annette Nicholls, Wright's fourth victim, was her best friend. Nettie, as she was known, introduced Paige to Wright.

"She seemed very friendly with him," said Paige. "She'd ring up and within five minutes he'd be there.

"He was just very quiet, you wouldn't think anything suspicious of him."

'Need the money'

Just up the road is the regular spot where Suzanne works the streets. Like Paige, she knew all five of the murdered women and was with Annette just hours before she went missing.

She too knows Wright. "To me he was a lonely old bloke who used to go to work every day, do what he had to do," she says.

"He was weird but I didn't think about it at the time, I just thought about getting his money off him. But now I sit here and think that could have been me, he was a weird person."

I was scared but you think it's not going to happen to you
Paige

Steve Wright lived in the middle of the red light district, the small group of roads where just a handful of women still regularly tout for business.

A few hundred yards from his house is the corner where Tania Nicol would stand. Just down the road from there is the last place she was seen, caught on CCTV being picked up by Wright.

Gemma Adams and Paula Clennell spent their working nights near here too. All five of the murdered women were on the streets to pay for their drug habits.

"We'd all help each other out and that and spoke, but when it comes down to it, each of the girls out here would stab each other in the back to get what they need," says Suzanne.

Paige agrees and says it is this that kept them on the streets during the murders.

"I was scared but you think it's not going to happen to you, and you kind of put it at the back of your mind and block it out," she said. "And, like Paula said to me, I need the money."

'Hard work'

Since the murders the police and local council have implemented a zero tolerance policy against the prostitutes and kerb crawlers.

The property where Steve Wright lived at the time of his arrest
Steve Wright's house was in the middle of Ipswich's red light zone

At least three times a week members of the vice squad work undercover here. Young officers drive round in battered old cars and walk the streets dressed in casual sweatshirts and jeans.

"All the women know us now," one officer confides.

"But it's the kerb crawlers that we're targeting," his colleague adds as they continue to walk their beat, past Wright's home - 79 London Road - on their latest circuit of the red light district.

Suffolk police have arrested 131 men since their operation began and nearly all of them have signed contracts agreeing not to enter the red light district or to approach lone females in a public place.

Only two of the kerb-crawlers have broken this agreement.

Police also say the number of women regularly working the streets has been drastically reduced since the murders. There are now only three, compared with 10 times that number in 2006.

It has changed the atmosphere of the place, according to those few women still left.

"It's hard to work and the police are back on the streets all the time," says Suzanne. "A couple of months ago I could earn good money but now it's hard work."



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