Police chief says sorry for attitude towards Yorkshire Ripper’s victims

West Yorkshire Chief Constable John Robins QPM

A Chief Constable has apologised to the victims of Peter Sutcliffe for “the language, tone and terminology used by senior officers at the time”.

Sutcliffe – the Yorkshire Ripper – killed 13 women between 1975 and 1980.

He tried to kill seven others.

Some were sex workers in red light districts in West Yorkshire and the North West frequented by the lorry driver.

The press and the judiciary also had a “laissez faire” approach to the first murders.

West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable John Robins said:

“Such language and attitudes may have reflected wider societal attitudes of the day, but it was as wrong then as it is now.”

Earlier Richard McCann – the son of the Ripper’s first known victim Wilma McCann – said:

“What can come out of this is for West Yorkshire Police to finally do the right thing and give us a bit of closure we can have and deserve, and that is to apologise for the way they spoke about some of the victims, including my mum, who they said were less than innocent.

“When Jayne MacDonald, the 16-year-old girl, was killed it was said by the police that [Sutcliffe has] killed an innocent victim now.

“My mum and all those other women were completely innocent and deserved to live.”

Mr Robins said:

“A huge number of officers worked to identify and bring Peter Sutcliffe to justice and it is a shame that their hard work was overshadowed by the language of senior officers used at the time, the effect of which is still felt today by surviving relatives.

“Thankfully, those attitudes are consigned to history and our approach today is wholly victim-focused, putting them at the centre of everything we do.”

Sutcliffe, 74, died from Covid-19 in hospital.

It’s said he refused treatment.

He was serving a full life term – never to be released.



About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV's Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.

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