6 Jan 2011

Sense of unease around Joanna Yeates murder scene

Home Affairs Correspondent

As students return to the University of Bristol after the Christmas break there is a deep sense of unease around the area where landscape architect Joanna Yeates was murdered, writes Darshna Soni.

Clifton Village is a leafy suburb of Bristol, with beautiful Georgian properties and tree-lines streets. There are many boutique shops and trendy cafes. But today, the customers and shop owners I spoke to told me of their deep sense of unease.

The police have told locals that Jo Yeates’ murder was extremely rare and that they have nothing specific to fear; but of course, they do.

I met one woman who told me she had had a chain installed on her front door and no longer opened the shutters of her garden flat. Another told me all of her friends were now too scared to walk home alone. Many of shops still have posters in their windows appealing for help in finding Ms Yeates, which they were asked to display when she was first reported missing. “It didn’t seem right to take it down,” one shopowner said.

“It didn’t seem right to take it down.” Shopkeeper still displaying ‘missing’ poster

Clifton is popular with students, but today they were given a stark welcome back ahead of the new term. The University of Bristol advised students and staff to carry a personal attack alarm and were told they could get one for free from the university’s security services.

The police have put extra patrols on the streets, and we saw several officers patrolling the streets today, some on horseback.

The Avon and Somerset force are aware that they are under huge pressure to solve the case. They have tried to explain that although they are making “steady progress,” it could take some time before they find out who killed Ms Yeates, and why.

Miss Yeates disappeared on 17 December, after spending an evening with friends in a local pub. CCTV pictures released later showed her buying cider from a local off-licence on her way home and she was also known to have bought pizza from a Tesco near her Clifton flat.

Her body was discovered on Christmas morning by a couple walking their dogs. She had been strangled.