The senior detective who headed the investigation into the serial murders committed by Fred and Rosemary West says many more victims of the notorious Midland couple may yet be found.
John Bennett, the senior investigating officer on the case which uncovered the murders of a dozen girls and women, was in Birmingham to launch a new degree in crime.
The former Chief Superintendent of Gloucestershire Constabulary, who retired from the force a decade ago after a 35-year career, was invited to Birmingham City University yesterday to formally unveil the first criminal investigation degree in the country.
The three-year course hopes to attract more than 100 full-time students, as well as existing police officers on a part-time basis. Further murder seminars will be held on December 1, February 9 and March 16 with talks from leading investigators on the Soham murders, the Ipswich murders and the Jamie Bulger case.
Fred West, who was charged with 12 murders, hanged himself while on remand at Winson Green Prison in Birmingham on 1 January 1995, while Rose is serving life for her involvement in ten killings.
Mr Bennett said: “We don’t know if there are any other murders committed by Fred and Rose West.
“She has always maintained her innocence and we couldn’t get to speak to him.
“We were absolutely devastated when he hanged himself because it took away from the investigation and the victims’ families.”
Looking back over the investigation, Mr Bennett said that what began as a search for Fred and Rose West’s missing daughter in 1993 became a multi-murder inquiry within three days.
“Within three weeks, the toll had sadly grown to 12, partly due to the revelations of Fred West and remains found at the house.”
Students on the criminal investigation degree will learn a range of skills, from criminal law and forensic science to ethics and the rights of individuals.
Senior lecturer Nick Howe said the police force was an obvious career for students, but added: “While there are 144,000 cops in England and Wales, something like a million people work in the private security industry.
“This course will also appeal to people seeking jobs in custom and excise, the probation service and even students who go on to become lawyers and solicitors.”
Rachel Kehoe, aged 18, from Great Wyrley, near Walsall, enrolled on the course because she wants to work in probation.
“I want to know why people commit crimes and what motivates them,” she said. “I was reading up on the Fred West case yesterday. It was quite creepy and reminded me of the Josef Fritzl case in Austria.”
Stephanie Prosser, 29, from Kings Norton, took an access to higher education course after working in healthcare.
The mother-of-three said: “I would like to do profiling and work with youth offenders. I don’t think young people’s voices are heard enough.”