Working in the sex work industry in the UK carries the greatest risk of violence and homicide for women. But for this marginalised population, many of the murders remain unsolved.
Produced by Woodcut Media, this three-part mini-series explores the phenomena of why street sex workers are targeted by predators as potential victims. Murder In The Red Lighttakes the crimes of serial killer, Steve Wright, as the starting point for a deep dive in to this phenomena.
Infamously known as the Suffolk Strangler, during a six-week murder spree in 2006, Wright ended the lives of five vulnerable young women. Their murders struck fear into the heart of this close-knit community. This series looks at the unbelievable days in which Wright continued to murder under the noses of investigating officers, the aftermath of his arrest, the changes in societal and policing attitudes to sex workers and how many cases remain unsolved today.
EPISODE 1: CHRISTMAS IN THE RED LIGHT
Ipswich town was a popular destination for sex workers for many decades, but in the early 2000’s an escalating drug problem saw an increase in the number of women working the streets. In the run up to Christmas 2006, the close-knit community was torn apart as the bodies of five vulnerable women are found within 10 days - sparking the biggest manhunt in the East of England. This episode charts the unprecedented events of the killing spree that sent shock waves through the nation. It explores who these victims were, the factors that led them to street sex work and why the sex worker population are targeted by violent predatory men.
EPISODE 2: RACE AGAINST TIME
With a serial killer on the loose, women feared their safety and every man becomes a potential suspect. The attention of the world’s media is upon the investigation. In a race against time, Suffolk police are under enormous pressure to bring Ipswich’s nightmare to an end. Sensationalist newspaper headlines raise levels of fear in the community and the media’s portrayal of the five women stigmatises, dehumanises and demonises them. The killings highlight the vulnerability of street sex workers and the rocky relationship between police and press which wavered between an alliance and a feud.
EPISODE 3: MURDER IN THE RED LIGHT
In Ipswich, DNA evidence on three of the murdered victims provides Suffolk police with a match – a local man named Steve Wright. With the suspect now arrested, the police need further evidence that links Wright to the murders of all five women. As the forensics team work around the clock, could Wright’s past be linked to other unsolved murders? This episode explores how the street sex work industry in Ipswich changed forever and asks the question whether enough lessons have been learned or could this happen again?