Cutting Edge – Killer in a Small Town Review: A cut above the rest

February 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

CUTTING EDGE – KILLER IN A SMALL TOWN, Ch4, Thurs 5th Feb, 9.00pm Alert Me

And the award to most inappropriate title prefix goes to…. Yep, it’s the latest in Channel 4’s seemingly endless investigation into the UK’s serial killer community (surely, there can’t be that many more left?).

That said, it’s the first in a new series of the always-reliable Cutting Edge, with an investigation into the shockingly swift series of prostitute murders that rocked Ipswich back in 2006, claiming the lives of five women within just 10 days.

Unlike other recent documentaries that have explored the seedier side of the UK’s underbelly, Cutting Edge’s report is informed and staggeringly thorough. As the narrative chronologically pieces together the case’s speedy evolution from a seemingly inconsequential prostitute murder to the fastest killing spree in UK history, the documentary makers’ explore the whole gamut of the investigate process.

It’s spellbinding in its cohesiveness, and literally everyone you could ever have wanted to hear from is interviewed. From the deeply personal stories of the former working girls and relatives of victims to the more business-like, if not startlingly frank recollections from pathologists and the police chiefs involved in the case.

With skilful direction and a steadily increasing sense of foreboding, paranoia and spiralling hysteria, it provides a relatable insight into the media maelstrom that threatened to disrupt the entire investigation. You can’t help but feel sorry for the local chief of police, who freely admits that Suffolk Police (who just one month before the first murder, rated near the bottom of a survey assessing each force’s ability to manage a major criminal incident) were nowhere near equipped to cope with the spiralling immensity of the situation.

While the Ipswich murders are obviously the main focus of the programme, the episode skilfully addresses the blatantly connected subjects of the UK’s prostitution trade with hardcore drug addiction, and quite why and how these young women are so quickly sucked in.

It’s perplexing to think that for such an open part of our country’s darker side, it’s such a social taboo to not only address but try to rectify. For these reasons alone, many of the sorrowful testimonials are tinged with regret that nothing was done sooner to help a group of women that were more noticeably drug abuse victims first and then prostitutes second.

Poignant and grimly captivating.


Matt Risley

S Rich says:

I come from Ipswich originally, and was as shocked by the events as everyone else. CH4 really did well with this show, although they never explained why he did it and I think that would have really helped.