Yorkshire Ripper death: Force apology over victim descriptions

Yorkshire Ripper death: Force apology over victim descriptions

A police force has apologised for the “language, tone and terminology” used to describe the Yorkshire Ripper’s victims in the 1970s.

Senior West Yorkshire officers said some of the 13 women killed by Peter Sutcliffe, who has died aged 74, were “innocent” but implied others were not.

The son of his first victim Wilma McCann had appealed for an apology.

Force Chief Constable John Robins said the language used at the time was “as wrong then as it is now”.

Speaking earlier, Richard McCann, who was five when his mother was killed, said: “They described some of the women as ‘innocent’, inferring that some were not innocent – including my mum.

“She was a family woman who, through no fault of her own, was going through adversity and made some bad decisions, some risky decisions.”

“She paid for those decisions with her life.”

Mr Robins said: “On behalf of West Yorkshire Police, I apologise for the additional distress and anxiety caused to all relatives by the language, tone and terminology used by senior officers at the time in relation to Peter Sutcliffe’s victims.

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

He added that the force’s approach to investigations was now “wholly victim-focused”.

After the force published its apology, Mr McCann tweeted: “Now that’s worth celebrating. Thank You.”

Detectives, journalists and the attorney general who prosecuted Peter Sutcliffe have been criticised for dismissing some women who died as sex workers.

Senior officers’ focus on the Ripper targeting only sex workers was seen as one of the many crucial wrong turns taken during the 1970s investigation.

At Sutcliffe’s trial, prosecutor Sir Michael Havers, who was the attorney general at the time, said: “Some were prostitutes but perhaps the saddest part of the case is that some were not.

“The last six attacks were on totally respectable women.”

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