Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Police blasted for ignoring claims

Just five allegations and two pieces of intelligence were recorded against Jimmy Savile during his lifetime, HMIC found

Police forces across Britain have come under fire for ignoring Jimmy Savile's abuse victims as it emerged the disgraced presenter could have been stopped as early as 1964.

In a shock warning, policing inspectors said there is a "distinct possibility" that officers could fail to prevent another Savile-like scandal from happening again.

Just five allegations and two pieces of intelligence were recorded against Savile during his lifetime, found Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). This is in stark contrast to the 450 claims made against the former Top Of The Pops presenter after Operation Yewtree was launched by Metropolitan Police in October.

The earliest record uncovered by HMIC naming Savile in connection with a sexual abuse investigation is dated 1964, but officers failed to act on the intelligence received. A damning report by Met Police and NSPCC said Savile's offending spanned from 1955 to 2009, meaning his reign of abuse could have been cut short by 45 years.

Alan Collins, a solicitor from law firm Pannone who is representing more than 40 of Savile's victims, said further opportunities to investigate Savile were lost.

"Consequently, Savile was able to carry on regardless, duping the country in the process, and the price was paid by his many victims. There is a definite risk that unless policies and attitudes change, Savile will happen again," he said.

As well as the 1964 Scotland Yard ledger, a record of an anonymous letter was found that was received by Met Police in 1998, alleging that Savile was a paedophile. In addition, five victims also made complaints against the presenter: one to the Met in 2003, three to Surrey in 2007 and one to Sussex in 2008.

HMIC also expressed concern that other police forces did not deal with complaints properly with eight victims claiming that they tried, unsuccessfully, to report crimes. This includes four who approached the Met and one each who went to police in Cheshire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and the then Royal Ulster Constabulary respectively.

Ms Sharpling said the evidence uncovered suggested that Savile's fame meant officers handled allegations against him with more caution than they would in other cases. She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "It is clear to us that, because of Savile's celebrity status, maybe people were looking for that extra piece of evidence, behaving with an extra sense of caution, because of the power that he wielded."

She added: "I was shocked and surprised at the extent of Jimmy Savile's offending behaviour over 50 years and the paucity of information available to the police service about him."

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