News In Depth
Savile 'most prolific' offender
Britain's biggest children's charity, the NSPCC, has said Jimmy Savile was one of the most prolific sex offenders in its 129-year history.
But the charity said the publicity surrounding Savile has triggered a surge in abuse victims coming forward - unrelated to the case - with 5,000 calls taken by its helpline in October alone after the ITV Exposure programme was broadcast.
And one of the recognised outcomes of the charity's joint report with the Metropolitan Police was a "significant rise in the level of reporting of past sexual abuse of children".
NSPCC director of child protection advice and awareness Peter Watt said nearly 800 additional children have been protected from abuse due to the attention given to the allegations against Savile.
He said: "We also know from the huge increase in calls to the NSPCC helpline about sexual abuse that the problem did not die with Savile.
"Since the Savile scandal broke we have seen a surge in contacts about child abuse, both past and present, with many victims speaking out for the first time."
"We are optimistic that this signals a watershed moment for child protection in this country. We must seize the opportunity if we are to make a lasting change."
Addressing doubts over the motivations of some of those who came forward to make allegations against Savile, Mr Watt said the version of events given by some showed that it was "beyond doubt" that the attacks took place.
He added: "The sheer scale of Savile's abuse over six decades simply beggars belief. He is without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across and every number represents a victim that will never get justice now he is dead.
"But with this report we can at least show his victims that they have been taken seriously and their suffering has been recognised."
Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), who is a victim of child abuse himself, said: "I want us to forget Jimmy Savile. He is not worthy of memory. But I want us to remember his many victims and the victims out there unable to come forward."
Meanwhile, a child protection expert said the number of victims who fell prey to Savile could double, with current figures "a mere drop in the ocean".
Mark Williams-Thomas, who presented the original ITV documentary that first exposed Savile as a dangerous sexual predator, said he could have targeted hundreds more victims in his near six decades of abuse.
He said: "For anybody who works in this area the sheer scale is quite shocking. When you deal with sex offenders they are quite specific in their targeting. What is different with Savile is that there's no specific target in terms of ages or sexes. He ranged from male to female, children to adults. It's truly shocking.
"The offence at the last Top Of The Pops was when he was 79 years old and he was still offending.
"The first offence was in 1955 and the last in 2009, that's almost 60 years of offending. There could be at least double the number of potential victims, it's a mere drop in the ocean."
Scotland Yard is leading Operation Yewtree, the investigation into allegations against Savile and a number of other high-profile figures. It is currently dealing with around 450 claims against Savile himself.
So far they have interviewed 10 people in relation to alleged sexual offences.
Mr Williams-Thomas said he knows of a number of other well-known names who have not yet been interviewed by police but are under investigation.
He said: "There are other names that have been passed to police that I'm aware of that are under criminal investigation.
"Savile was never going to be brought to justice because he's dead, but we've given the victims a voice and that's really important. Now we have to make sure that those people who are alive, that evidence is collected correctly and if they have done anything wrong they are brought to justice."
A number of Savile's victims are in regular contact with the former detective.
He said: "It's a very sad day given how many people's lives he affected. He was never here to face justice.
"It's a very difficult day for them. They never realised how big this was. That is so often the case that victims don't know there are other victims.
"Some of them are very angry that he hasn't been brought to justice. But the starting point is that it is a great relief that they have been listened to and been believed. We would have loved to see him have his day in court and undoubtedly he would have gone to prison for a very long time."
Mr Williams-Thomas called for one person to be appointed to gather together the results of the string of internal investigations being carried out by health organisations, police forces and the BBC.
He said: "What I would like to see is one single individual who has expertise in this field, who is not going to be silenced, who could pull together all of the reports and give us a definitive answer."