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Prime Suspect Arrested in Connection with the Death of Emma Caldwell
The sad case of Emma Caldwell has been the subject of a detailed BBC documentary. After Iain Packer was arrested today, could justice be near?
Emma Caldwell’s life was pretty much the normal, nuclear, traditional family upbringing in Scotland. Until, that is, she lost her big sister to cancer. She struggled with this event, as anyone would, and became caught up in drug addiction. Emma then turned to sex work to pay for the drugs. Just a few sentences, but so much tragedy.
One point I would like to make about the widespread media coverage today is linked to this portrayal. The headlines do not comment negatively about sex workers, but they are laden with judgement. The phrase ‘prostitute’ or ‘sex worker’ conjures up stereotypes that the media are very familiar with. Emma Caldwell was a vulnerable young woman dealing with tragedy. Yes, she was a sex worker at the time of her death, but I do not consider that the label ‘sex worker’ helps us to understand anything about Emma or the kind, considerate person that shines through on the excellent BBC documentary.
I rail against the label partly because it comes up so often in true crime, and yet it tells us absolutely nothing about the victim or the crime. Vicky Glass was a sex worker when she was killed. Peter Sutcliffe was (wrongly) claimed to have only targeted prostitutes. And even Dennis Nilsen was labelled as a killer of male sex workers. None of these labels are true, and none of them are relevant.
Iain Packer was interviewed a number of times by police during the initial Emma Caldwell investigation, in scenes reminiscent of the Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. It was only a newspaper investigation in 2015 that dredged up Packer’s name once again. But that was seven years ago. What on earth has been going on since then? What has changed today to cause the Crown Prosecution Service to finally get around to charging him?
Crime Guy doesn’t normally indulge in hot takes like this, and I would welcome any feedback about this article. Please bear in mind that UK media are normally unable to name people who have been arrested but not yet charged. The naming of Packer today perhaps reflects the high profile of both Emma Caldwell’s case and that of the prime suspect for over a decade. True crime normally moves at a glacially slow pace, but I wanted to share this today as many of you will have heard the documentary on BBC radio and on other podcast players, links below.