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1,400 prominent men in child sex probe as Home Secretary says it is just 'tip of iceberg'

By Kate Ferguson

Published 21/05/2015

Shock figures: Theresa May
Shock figures: Theresa May

Police are investigating more than 1,400 prominent men, including politicians, celebrities and those linked to institutions, for historic child sex abuse.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said they have seen an "unprecedented increase" in the number of reports of abuse in the wake of the 2012 Jimmy Savile scandal.

Laying bare the sheer scale of the task facing them, police estimate they will receive around 116,000 reports of abuse by the end of 2015 - a 71% increase from 2012.

And the claims cut to the very heart of society, with schools, religious institutions, children's homes and sports clubs all implicated.

According to the figures, 1,433 suspects - all believed to be men - have been identified, including 261 "people of public prominence", while 216 are now dead.

Of these prominent figures, 76 are politicians, 135 come from the world of TV, film or radio, 43 are from the music industry and seven are from sport.

Officers have identified 357 different institutions linked to the alleged abuse, including 154 schools, 75 children's homes, 40 religious institutions and nine prisons.

But police, experts in child sex abuse and the Home Secretary Theresa May said the figures are only the "tip of the iceberg". Millions of people in Britain are believed to have suffered sexual abuse.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC's lead for child abuse, said the scale of child abuse is "stark" and "referrals are increasing on an almost daily basis".

He said: "There is no doubt in my mind that the Savile effect has played a significant part in giving victims the confidence to come forward and report abuse.

"But these figures do raise the question, is more abuse being perpetrated? I don't have the evidence at this moment in time to prove this one way or another."

He said no figures are available to give the number of victims, but "it's fair to say that it is going to run into the thousands".

The figures come from a new police co-ordinating hub known as Operation Hydrant, established last summer.

The numbers have been taken from police forces across the UK and refer to reports of abuse, or live investigations into abuse allegedly involving VIPs or people linked to institutions.

The revelations come in the wake of a number of high profile police investigations into historic sex abuse involving celebrities, politicians and clergy.

This includes allegations a VIP paedophile ring involving politicians existed which abused children at the Dolphin Square apartment block in Westminster.

Celebrities including entertainer Rolf Harris (85) and PR guru Max Clifford (72) have been jailed for indecent assaults following investigations by Operation Yewtree - the probe set up after Savile was exposed as a paedophile.

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