Jimmy Savile: Recorded sex crimes up 9% since scandal

Jimmy Savile One of the biggest rises was in West Yorkshire, where Savile used to live

The number of sexual offences recorded by police rose by more than 9% after revelations about Jimmy Savile emerged, figures obtained by the BBC show.

The statistics were provided to BBC Radio 5 live following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Separate research for the BBC suggests a number of the fresh allegations relate to claims of historical abuse.

The National Association of People Abused in Childhood said victims now felt more confident about speaking out.

The ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was broadcast on 3 October 2012 and featured the accounts of five women who said they had been assaulted by the Jim'll Fix It presenter, who died in 2011.

In the six months following the broadcast, police recorded more than 33,000 sexual offences - a rise of 9.2% on the same period a year earlier.

There were increases in Scotland, Northern Ireland and in 32 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, with the biggest rises in Bedfordshire and West Yorkshire, where Savile used to live.

Find out more

Listen to the full report on BBC Radio 5 live's Breakfast programme on Monday 1 July

Scotland Yard launched Operation Yewtree in the wake of the revelations against Savile and others and 589 people have come forward with information relating to the investigation - 450 of those allege they were sexually abused by Savile.

Analysis

The number of sex offences recorded by police tends to fluctuate, which is why we should be cautious about over-interpreting these figures.

But they do appear to provide clear evidence of the "Savile effect", with victims empowered to report allegations as a result of the publicity around the ITV programme and Operation Yewtree.

The key question is whether police can cope with the increase in cases: the number of officers in England and Wales is at its lowest for 11 years, with specialist units particularly stretched.

Recent guidance on child sex offences has made clear to both detectives and prosecutors how important it is to build cases - taking victims seriously, seeking corroboration, examining the background of suspects more thoroughly.

The increase in allegations may be a positive sign - but there can be no short cuts in how they're investigated.

A third strand of the operation concentrates on accusations unconnected to the Savile investigations but which emerged as a result of the publicity surrounding Savile.

Detective Superintendent Karena Thomas, the head of Bedfordshire Police's public protection unit, which saw the number of reported sex crimes leap by 92% from 173 cases in Oct 2011-Mar 2012 to 332 over the same period the following year, said: "While we recognise there has been a considerable increase in reported sexual offences, the actual number of crimes committed remains very small in comparison with overall crime.

"Changes to such small numbers creates significant percentage increases, however, and there are a number of reasons for this and it is important that we put the figures in some context.

"We have seen an increase of around 40% in historic sexual offences being reported, a result of publicity around Operation Yewtree."

In West Yorkshire, there was a 66% rise in recorded sexual offences - up from 938 offences in the six months to 1 April 2012, to 1,560 in the same period a year later.

West Yorkshire Police say 79 of the recorded crimes in the most recent period related to Savile, and he alone accounted for 12% of the rise.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, says the government needs to provide more funding for specialist support services.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "It's great that survivors have been given more confidence to come forward and report these crimes. But coming forward has a massive impact on lives, and there urgently needs to be more support for those people.

"Our organisation is lottery funded and there is no specific central funding stream for victims of childhood sexual abuse. The government needs to step in."

Policing and criminal justice minister Damian Green said a new Home Office-led group would look at how to better identify children at risk and create a more "victim-focused culture" in the police, health and children's services.

"It is vital that we learn the lessons from past and current cases to ensure victims are not left to suffer in silence," he said.

Sue was abused by her stepfather between the ages of eight and 15.

Stuart Hall (right) - with the late Eddie Waring - on It's a Knockout Stuart Hall was jailed for 15 months recently for offences against girls between 1967 and 1985

He has been in prison since 1999 after being convicted of raping and indecently assaulting her.

She says: "There's been a massive upturn in people coming forward and speaking out. This is a huge problem, and has been a taboo subject for decades. People have swept it under the carpet, nobody wanted to talk about child abuse because it's the worst crime. Now everyone's talking about it.

"You're groomed into thinking you'll never be believed, and that never goes away. That's why it's so difficult for people to come forward.

"But when other people come forward it gives others the confidence to think police will take it seriously."

Steve Williams, national chairman of the Police Federation, says: "The figures show that people feel more confident to come forward and report sexual offences to the police. Clearly there's been an increase in reported sexual offences after the Jimmy Savile affair.

"The government and the police and crime commissioners need to be very conscious that we need to invest resources properly into dealing with such serious matters."

POLICE FORCE Oct 2011-Mar 2012 Apr 2012-Sep 2012 Oct 2012-Mar 2013 Year on year % change

Source: BBC Freedom of Information requests

Avon and Somerset

825

872

889

8

Bedfordshire

173

206

332

92

Cambridgeshire

337

293

351

4

Cheshire

449

436

459

2

City of London

27

20

27

no change

Cleveland

278

281

304

9

Cumbria

208

179

226

9

Derbyshire

431

404

459

6

Devon and Cornwall

989

923

995

0.6

Dorset

267

362

331

24

Durham

216

206

186

down by 14

Dyfed-Powys

179

185

184

3

Essex

715

711

724

1

Gloucestershire

224

234

278

24

Greater Manchester

1421

1375

1312

down by 8

Gwent

269

262

282

5

Hampshire

942

815

852

down by 10

Hertfordshire

314

310

359

14

Humberside

539

565

641

19

Kent

684

624

823

20

Lancashire

727

778

879

21

Leicestershire

439

515

540

23

Lincolnshire

290

281

279

down by 4

Merseyside

586

642

672

15

Met Police

6238

6142

6426

3

Norfolk

430

387

385

down by 10

North Wales

336

422

487

45

Northamptonshire

377

385

409

8

Northumbria

440

354

345

down by 22

North Yorkshire

314

309

256

down by 18

Nottinghamshire

425

462

546

28

Police Scotland

1618

2060

1652

2

PSNI

865

970

962

11

South Wales

458

477

681

49

South Yorkshire

409

459

408

down by 0.25

Staffordshire

464

475

551

19

Suffolk

383

402

365

down by 5

Surrey

265

280

279

5

Sussex

708

726

828

17

Thames Valley

1414

1472

1753

24

Warwickshire

185

206

211

14

West Mercia

868

889

763

12

West Midlands

1351

1427

1479

9

West Yorkshire

938

968

1560

66

Wiltshire

252

337

318

26

TOTAL

30,267

31,088

33,048

9

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