One day, a nice policeman visited our school to tell us how good the police were at catching criminals, focusing particularly on how clever they were at checking people’s shoes to see if they matched footprints left at the crime scene. This was followed by a disastrous attempt to make plastercasts of our shoes. I think I teamed up with Andrew Wall - we made footprints in some soil in the playground, then filled them with plaster (don’t ask me precisely how), which dried and then promptly crumbled to pieces. I remember being terribly frustrated. I imagine that’s what led to me writing this sloppy, garbled mess. I was never too keen on these pieces - you know, the ones where you have to explain something factual that bears no relation to your own life or anything you might be even remotely interested in. I wouldn’t even bother uploading this if it weren’t for the context of the time it was written and what I’ve read about the police operation to track down the Yorkshire Ripper. Maybe the police visit was entirely innocent, would have happened anyway and was all part of some community drive to get youngsters more engaged with seeing policemen in a positive light. But very recently, the infamous Yorkshire Ripper - the identity of whom was then completely unknown - had killed again, murdering 20-year-old student Barbara Leach in Bradford on the morning of September 2nd. Though the real ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, had lain relatively low in recent months (his previous attack had taken place in April), it appeared to the general public that he had been very active indeed, mainly thanks to a tape sent to West Yorkshire police in June, which purported to be from the Ripper himself. We now know it was a hoax perpetrated by a man called John Humble. But at the time it was believed to be genuine and threw the investigation completely off course. It was absolutely terrifying. We lived in West Yorkshire (yes, it was also North Yorkshire, but it’s complicated), where the majority of the murders had taken place, and the idea that an actual, real murderer could be wandering our streets wasn’t pleasant. My parents tried to reassure me that he only killed women, so I was probably safe, but that was no comfort. I feared he might kill my Mum, my Gran or any other women I knew, and they feared it too. I got the impression that none of them felt safe going anywhere alone, especially at night. Eventually, on the strength of the evidence they thought they had, the police launched a £1m campaign to flush out the Ripper, involving huge billboards, incessant playing of the “I’m Jack” tape and, presumably, visits to schools. A friend of mine once told me (and I admit I have no evidence to back this up) that part of the police strategy was to go round schools frightening kids into realising how good they were at catching criminals, in the hope that one of the children might suddenly put their hand up and say “My Dad’s the Yorkshire Ripper.” If that’s true, it obviously didn’t work because, as we now know, Peter Sutcliffe didn’t have any kids. The sad fact is, if West Yorkshire Police had actually followed the guidelines they were preaching to children (as explained - badly - in this piece I wrote here in my English book), they might have caught Sutcliffe in January 1980, a full year before he was eventually arrested, which means Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill need not have died. There’s a full account of Sutcliffe’s police interviews here, including one on January 30 1980 during which (Sutcliffe has since claimed) he was wearing a pair of boots which would have incriminated him. OK, there may be no good reason to believe the words of a killer, but even so, if West Yorskhire police were going round boasting to children about how they catch thieves by checking their shoes, I wonder why it never occurred to them to do that with any of the men they interviewed about the Ripper murders. Especially when a footprint was one of the few tangible pieces of evidence they had. Strangely, this is the last piece I wrote in my English book before Christmas. It’s odd to think they didn’t ask us to write any more stories during December (we must have been at school another three weeks), but then again, I may well have been working on some kind of Christmas project, like a nativity play or a special big Christmas book, which may have taken the place of the usual English work. If I was, it’s been lost in the mists of time.
Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy?
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Great Space Battles Three mighty empires take their first steps into outer space
TOPIC 2 The one where it all kicks off
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
Florence Nightingale What if Florence Nightingale had lived in the Year 2000?
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One day, a nice policeman visited our school to tell us how good the police were at catching criminals, focusing particularly on how clever they were at checking people’s shoes to see if they matched footprints left at the crime scene. This was followed by a disastrous attempt to make plastercasts of our shoes. I think I teamed up with Andrew Wall - we made footprints in some soil in the playground, then filled them with plaster (don’t ask me precisely how), which dried and then promptly crumbled to pieces. I remember being terribly frustrated. I imagine that’s what led to me writing this sloppy, garbled mess. I was never too keen on these pieces - you know, the ones where you have to explain something factual that bears no relation to your own life or anything you might be even remotely interested in. I wouldn’t even bother uploading this if it weren’t for the context of the time it was written and what I’ve read about the police operation to track down the Yorkshire Ripper. Maybe the police visit was entirely innocent, would have happened anyway and was all part of some community drive to get youngsters more engaged with seeing policemen in a positive light. But very recently, the infamous Yorkshire Ripper - the identity of whom was then completely unknown - had killed again, murdering 20-year-old student Barbara Leach in Bradford on the morning of September 2nd. Though the real ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, had lain relatively low in recent months (his previous attack had taken place in April), it appeared to the general public that he had been very active indeed, mainly thanks to a tape sent to West Yorkshire police in June, which purported to be from the Ripper himself. We now know it was a hoax perpetrated by a man called John Humble. But at the time it was believed to be genuine and threw the investigation completely off course. It was absolutely terrifying. We lived in West Yorkshire (yes, it was also North Yorkshire, but it’s complicated), where the majority of the murders had taken place, and the idea that an actual, real murderer could be wandering our streets wasn’t pleasant. My parents tried to reassure me that he only killed women, so I was probably safe, but that was no comfort. I feared he might kill my Mum, my Gran or any other women I knew, and they feared it too. I got the impression that none of them felt safe going anywhere alone, especially at night. Eventually, on the strength of the evidence they thought they had, the police launched a £1m campaign to flush out the Ripper, involving huge billboards, incessant playing of the “I’m Jack” tape and, presumably, visits to schools. A friend of mine once told me (and I admit I have no evidence to back this up) that part of the police strategy was to go round schools frightening kids into realising how good they were at catching criminals, in the hope that one of the children might suddenly put their hand up and say “My Dad’s the Yorkshire Ripper.” If that’s true, it obviously didn’t work because, as we now know, Peter Sutcliffe didn’t have any kids. The sad fact is, if West Yorkshire Police had actually followed the guidelines they were preaching to children (as explained - badly - in this piece I wrote here in my English book), they might have caught Sutcliffe in January 1980, a full year before he was eventually arrested, which means Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill need not have died. There’s a full account of Sutcliffe’s police interviews here, including one on January 30 1980 during which (Sutcliffe has since claimed) he was wearing a pair of boots which would have incriminated him. OK, there may be no good reason to believe the words of a killer, but even so, if West Yorskhire police were going round boasting to children about how they catch thieves by checking their shoes, I wonder why it never occurred to them to do that with any of the men they interviewed about the Ripper murders. Especially when a footprint was one of the few tangible pieces of evidence they had. Strangely, this is the last piece I wrote in my English book before Christmas. It’s odd to think they didn’t ask us to write any more stories during December (we must have been at school another three weeks), but then again, I may well have been working on some kind of Christmas project, like a nativity play or a special big Christmas book, which may have taken the place of the usual English work. If I was, it’s been lost in the mists of time.
Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police
TOPIC 1 Sept-Dec 1979
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
TOPIC 2 The one where it all kicks off
Ward’s 7 John Ward and his band of rebels fight the evil Federation
The Fugitive A man runs - but who is he? And what is he running from?
The Flame in the Desert An evil fire threatens the safety of the world
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