Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Abuse calls soar since Savile probe

The fallout from the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal has seen the number of calls made to a helpline reporting sex abuse soar.

A helpline for abused women and girls has seen a 40% surge in calls in the year since Jimmy Savile's lifetime of sexual abuse was revealed by a television documentary.

Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile, which was shown on ITV on October 2 last year, ultimately led to a joint review by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC into allegations that the dead television presenter abused women, girls and boys.

The shock findings of the review, published in January this year, saw 214 criminal offences, including 34 rapes, recorded against Savile's name, across the UK between 1955 and 2009.

Rape Crisis England & Wales, a sexual violence charity for women and girls, has flagged a " huge" rise in demand for its services in the 12 months since the original documentary was shown.

Its National Rape Crisis Helpline has received 78,000 calls, compared with 55,000 during the previous 12 months, while local Rape Crisis centres have seen an increase in the use of their services.

Rape Crisis spokeswoman Katie Russell said: " Shocking as the revelations of the last year have been, they've reinforced what we within the Rape Crisis movement have learnt through our 40 years' experience of providing specialist support to women and girls - that sexual violence sadly happens a lot more than most people think, and that the impacts for the survivor can be devastating and lifelong."

The Exposure documentary detailed claims from women dating to the 1970s, including allegations that Savile abused girls in his Rolls-Royce and at BBC TV Centre.

Alleged victims of Savile approached police forces across the country in the wake of the broadcast, triggering an investigation led by Scotland Yard.

Uncovering the full scale of his depravity in their report, detectives said Savile sexually abused a teenager at a hospice, one of 14 medical sites he used to prey on his victims.

He also committed 14 offences at schools across the country, partly when children had written to him as part of his popular BBC series Jim'll Fix It.

At the same time, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) admitted Savile could have been charged for offences against at least three victims before his death in 2011.

A national investigation - known as Operation Yewtree - was launched in the wake of the abuse claims.

Detectives have run the investigation in three strands - allegations involving Savile, those involving Savile and others, and those involving others.

A number of high-profile names have since been charged under the operation, including veteran entertainer Rolf Harris and DJ Dave Lee Travis.

Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released in January estimated that more than 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year.

But only around 15% report the assaults to the police.

Ms Russell added: "W e know from this frontline work how difficult it can be for those raped and sexually abused as children to seek help at the time.

"This is reflected in the fact that 450 survivors have reported Savile since his death, while only four felt able to during his lifetime.

"This is one among many reasons why our services and their continuation are so vital."

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