Page last updated at 08:50 GMT, Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Alarm in Ipswich after women's deaths

By Marie Jackson
BBC News, in Ipswich

Following the murders of three prostitutes in Ipswich, residents voice fears about their safety.

Tracey Jolly
Tracey Jolly said people thought "It won't happen in Ipswich"

Since it emerged over the weekend that a third prostitute had been murdered in Ipswich, talk has been of little else in the offices and shops across the town.

Kelly Read, 27, told BBC News that she and her female colleagues have been devising ways to make themselves feel safer.

One idea was to ask the men to work the later shifts which finish at 8pm, and another was to press bosses for discounted rape alarms. They had also vowed among themselves not to go home alone, she added.

"We are arranging to go out in town at the weekend but some have already said they would not come because they are too frightened.

"Until someone is caught, there will be fear," she said.

Safety concerns

For Tracey Jolly, 23, who lives in Bury but comes into Ipswich at the weekend, walking in the town centre late at night is out of the question.

On New Year's Eve, she will join friends in an Ipswich pub but the usual kebab and walk through town at the end of the night has been swapped for a taxi to pick them up at the door and take them home.

"Before this happened, I would never have thought about my safety. You always thought it won't happen in Ipswich."

One woman said she thought the attacks made any women walking on her own in the town vulnerable.

"It does worry me," she said. "I've got a 17-year-old daughter who goes to college every Monday.

"I was really relieved this morning that the bus never turned up so she didn't have to come into Ipswich."

But another woman said that, because it seemed as though only sex workers were being targeted, she was "not too concerned".

You don't expect three murders in the space of a month-and-a-half
Michael John

Men are also affected. For 18-year-old Adam Whiting, the biggest concern until recent weeks had been trolleys being stolen from the supermarket where he works.

Now, he is pondering which streets in his home town of Ipswich are safe to walk down following the discovery of the bodies of three women with another one missing.

"I had never heard of any stabbings or killings in this area before now," he told BBC News.

The fear of a serial killer at large has become the talking point of what is on the whole considered a quiet town.

Ipswich's red light district runs alongside the town's football stadium watched over by statues of the team's heroes - former Ipswich Town managers Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson.

Portman Road is well known to most locals as the haunt of sex workers, but on a wet Monday morning it is eerily quiet with little through traffic.

Police search a stream
Two bodies were found in water

There is no sign of any police officers, whose tough investigation has been made harder by having to deal with a shooting at a local nightclub over the weekend in which one man died and another three were injured.

Efforts have been made to stop kerb crawling in one side street by banning car access at night.

But locals agree this appears to have made little difference and many fear for other girls working the streets.

When Michael John, 52, a health care assistant, moved to Ipswich in 1997, his impression was of a very quiet place.

"It was a slow town but it's grown tremendously," he said. "There was only one main nightclub. Now there's all sorts of entertainment and people come from as far as Colchester and London to go out.

"But still, you don't expect three murders in the space of a month-and-a-half."

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