UK & World News
Savile: Police Failings 'Could Happen Again'
The failings identified in the Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation "could happen all over again", one of Britain's top policemen has warned.
Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said officers are "cautious in taking cases to court" because they fear victims will be put under too much pressure when giving evidence.
He added that the lack of a "national headquarters for policing makes achieving consistent national standards all the more difficult".
It comes after a damning report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found Savile was first named in connection with a sexual abuse investigation in 1964.
A separate report by the Metropolitan Police and the NSPCC said his offending spanned from 1955 to 2009, meaning his reign of abuse could have been cut short by 45 years.
Sir Peter said: "Police forces have significantly improved the way that victims are treated but the fact is many, many victims do not come forward or if they do are reluctant to support a prosecution.
"This highlights another issue in the way our adversarial court system treats victims.
"Whatever other evidence is collected, prosecutions for sexual offences rely hugely on the evidence of the victim.
"In a case of burglary, the victim will not be blamed for leaving the front door unlocked. In sexual offences, the behaviour of the victim - whether they had been drinking, any weaknesses of character, how they were dressed - may well be picked over at great length in the court room.
"Where the details are particularly salacious or the case involves a celebrity, then these very intimate details will receive full publicity in the media."
Just five allegations and two pieces of intelligence were recorded against Savile during his lifetime, HMIC found.
This is in stark contrast to the 450 claims made against the former Top Of The Pops presenter after Operation Yewtree was launched by the Metropolitan Police in October.
Alan Collins, a solicitor from law firm Pannone who is representing more than 40 of Savile's victims, said many opportunities to investigate Savile had been lost.
"Consequently, Savile was able to carry on regardless, duping the country in the process, and the price was paid by his many victims," he said.
"There is a definite risk that unless policies and attitudes change, Savile will happen again."
As well as the 1964 Metropolitan Police ledger, a record of an anonymous letter was found that was received by the Met in 1998, alleging that Savile was a paedophile.
In addition, five victims made complaints against the presenter - one to the Met in 2003, three to Surrey in 2007 and one to Sussex in 2008.
HMIC expressed concern that other police forces did not deal with complaints properly with eight victims claiming that they tried, unsuccessfully, to report crimes.
These include four who approached the Met and one each who went to police in Cheshire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and the then Royal Ulster Constabulary.
One man who came forward in 1963 in Cheshire to make an allegation of rape against Savile was told to "forget about it" and "move on", HMIC said.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Drusilla Sharpling said: "The findings in this report are of deep concern, and clearly there were mistakes in how the police handled the allegations made against Savile during his lifetime."
The letter received by the Metropolitan Police Service in 1998 claiming the DJ was a paedophile was classed as "sensitive", meaning other investigators could not find it.
"The 1998 MPS anonymous letter was marked as 'sensitive' because of Savile's celebrity status and because there were allegations of blackmail and paedophilia," the inspectors said.
"This categorisation meant that the intelligence was not readily available to be searched by later investigating officers."
The Met sent the letter to West Yorkshire Police, the area where Savile lived, but other investigators could not access the information until 2011.
Considering whether such abuse on a similar scale could happen again, Ms Sharpling said it was neither "enough nor correct to say this couldn't happen now".
The HMIC report warned that "the inconsistencies in approach that the forces have taken mean that there is a distinct possibility that such failures could be repeated".
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The public rightly want answers to how victims' voices were ignored for so long. This report brings into sharp focus police failings that allowed Savile to act with impunity over five decades.
A Met Police spokesman said: "All of this needs to be seen in the context of how much we have achieved through our approach to the public response to Operation Yewtree.
"We have seen a step change in the reporting of abuse, with a significant rise in the numbers of people coming forward."
The HMIC report recommended that recently formed professional body the College of Policing should issue guidelines to all police forces about how to deal with investigations into child abuse.
what do you think?
Lets hope many lessons have been learnt and will in future be better at listening and believing victims, tbough i got to say i dont think the accused should be named before he has been found guilty and there also should be a higher punishments for those woman or men that have been proved to have made the accuations up.i cant help feeling that our current compensation culture we now live in helps matters and victims now go to the papers and tv before going to the relevent authorities.
This long winded report has only gone to confirm what the majority of people have already known, and that is that Savile was a big name even in the 60s. And like all big names especially in the entertainment industry, along with very high profile politicians were shielded by the establishment. Through police pressure these crimes rarely came to court...........But the sad thing is today nothing has changed or ever will do, there are high profilers carrying on today as if these laws don't exist safe in the knowledge they have police protection by way of the establishment .
Is there any wonder the victims of abuse find it hard to come forward when they get ignored! I dont think people realise how much guts it takes to actually open up and admit something so horrific has happened to them in their life! And no its not just about compensation as no compensation could ever bring back those years or how ever long the abuse lasted should never have happened and its about time those in high places and those with celebrity status and those that think they are untouchable are held accountable and investigated into any allegation regardless of how rediculous it seems.
With you all the way
There are a few ignorant people on this site who repeatedly asked 'why didn't they say anything'. I hope they're finally beginning to understand.
Why insult people who don't agree with you. I still think a lot of the women made it up which to me have spoiled it for the genuine cases of CHILD abuse.
Sorry but asking the question 'why didn't they say anything' is ignorant Diane. Debating the truthfulness of every accuser is a completely different issue.
Why is it ignorant.
Tricky diana isnt being ignorant saying she has some doubts.i got to say i have.without the compensation i wonder how many woman would have come forward today.it also only takes one of tbese to be lying or even mistaken and i fear it will discredit the real victims which would be very wrong.
It also still astounds me that 445 woman didnt come forward at the time.
Failed the victims? REALLY? Haha ha ha ha ha. Is it April 1st already?
Dear Orange - This is obviously a newsworthy article but does the header really have to include the odious creeps leering face.