Police blunders which allowed the Yorkshire Ripper to kill three more women

A series of police blunders allowed the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe to kill three more women.

The evil serial killer, who has died aged 74 after being diagnosed with Covid-19, was interviewed by police nine times while his car was spotted 60 times in the red-light districts where it was known the Ripper prowled for his victims.

These failings of West Yorkshire Police were laid bare in 1982, after Sutcliffe had finally been brought to justice, in a report by Sir Lawrence Byford.

The report by Sir Lawrence earned him the reputation as "the man who changed the face of modern policing" because it "led to fundamental changes in the way serial killer investigations would be carried out in future across the world".

He was very critical of the incident room at Leeds city centre's Millgarth police station, with 30,000 statements, a quarter of a million names and millions of car number plates piling up.

Sir Lawrence said: "The ineffectiveness of the major incident room was a serious handicap to the Ripper investigation.

"While it should have been the effective nerve centre of the whole police operation, the backlog of unprocessed information resulted in the failure to connect vital pieces of related information.

"This serious fault in the central index system allowed Peter Sutcliffe to continually slip through the net."

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Sutcliffe's reign of terror finally ended in January 1981 after he confessed to the killings after being brought in for a police check for stolen number plates.

He was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to kill a further nine.

Along with the mountain of paperwork, West Yorkshire Police were also blindsided by a sick hoaxer known as "Wearside Jack" who pretended to be the killer on the loose.

He led them on a wild goose chase for more than a year, giving Sutcliffe time to kill three more women before he was finally caught.

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John Humble sent hoax letters and an audiotape, convincing police they should be looking for a man with a Sunderland accent, despite contradictory evidence from some survivors of the Yorkshire Ripper.

This caused Sutcliffe to slip down the list of suspects due to his West Yorkshire accent.

More than 25 years after the Yorkshire Ripper was caught, Humble was sentenced to eight years in jail for perverting the course of justice.

The case was also criticised by allegations of misogyny with detectives convinced Sutcliffe was only attacking prostitutes. Victims who were not sex workers were initially disregarded.

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At the trial, prosecutor Sir Michael Havers even said of the victims: "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."

Sutcliffe died at the University Hospital in North Durham after refusing treatment for coronavirus.

He was one of Britain's most prolific serial killers. The serial killer was convicted of his shocking crimes in 1981 and spent more than three decades at the infamous psychiatric unit at Broadmoor Hospital before he was moved to HMP Frankland in County Durham in 2016 after he was deemed stable enough for jail.

The Yorkshire Ripper suffered from a number of health problems in the years leading up to his death, including angina, heart trouble, diabetes and obesity.

Former police officer Bob Bridgestock, who worked on the hunt for Sutcliffe, said he "won't be shedding any tears".

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