Savile failings 'could happen again'
- 12 March 2013
- From the section UK
Police failings identified in the Jimmy Savile sex abuse case could happen all over again, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police has warned.
Sir Peter Fahy said it was difficult to achieve "consistent national standards" with 43 forces in England and Wales.
His comments follow a report from the police watchdog which found officers mishandled complaints and missed opportunities to apprehend the late DJ.
The Home Office is to review its policies regarding child protection.
Savile committed abuse over 50 years at a number of venues, including BBC premises, schools and hospitals.
Sir Peter said the many reports on Savile and other cases of serial sexual offenders were not addressing the underlying issues.
"We can continue to criticise individual members of staff for individual failings but this ignores the complexity of these issues and the way our system of criminal justice affects the victims of sexual offences," he said.
"There is little public support for a national police force as is being created in Scotland, but while localism has many strengths it does make it more difficult when cases cross boundaries and when we are trying to achieve national standards."
The report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) - which was commissioned by the home secretary to find out how much police knew about Savile before he was exposed as a sex offender in 2012 - also warned that failures to share intelligence on a prolific offender could happen again.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Drusilla Sharpling told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Savile's profile had played a part.
"It's clear that because of Savile's celebrity status, people were looking for that extra piece of evidence, behaving with an extra sense of caution because of the power he wielded," she said.
The former presenter of the BBC's Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It, who also worked as a Radio 1 DJ and received a knighthood in 1990, died aged 84 in October 2011 - a year before the allegations were broadcast for the first time in an ITV documentary.
The police watchdog said it had found five reports made to the police about Savile prior to his death and two pieces of intelligence, all of which had been mishandled in different ways.
In the wake of last year’s revelations, police received about 450 allegations spanning several decades. Police assessed 214 of them as being definite crimes, including 32 of rape.
The HMIC report said police had systems and processes to enable forces to “join the dots” and to spot patterns, but these had been either used incorrectly or not at all.
“Clearly there were mistakes in how the police handled the allegations made against Savile during his lifetime,” said Ms Sharpling.
“However, an equally profound problem is that victims felt unable to come forward and report crimes of sexual abuse.”
She told the BBC that it must become an obligation on professionals of all kinds to report child abuse, and the use of the national police database had to be "slicker" and "more comprehensive".
Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a review of Home Office policies.
"I have asked my officials to conduct a thorough review of Home Office policies to ensure a robust and strengthened longer-term approach to delivering child protection within the department and the police," she said.
"This urgent work will ensure the interests of victims are prioritised and the specific vulnerabilities of children are recognised and addressed."