York & North Yorkshire

Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli sex abuse: Police admit chances were missed

Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli
Image caption Jimmy Savile had a home in Scarborough where Peter Jaconelli ran an ice cream business

Opportunities to prosecute Jimmy Savile and a former mayor of Scarborough over claims of historical sex abuse of children in the resort were missed, North Yorkshire Police has said.

A 10-month inquiry found ex-mayor Peter Jaconelli and Savile would have been likely to face prosecution if they were alive today.

Savile had a home in the seaside resort and Jaconelli ran an ice cream firm.

The force's internal inquiry found "no evidence of misconduct" by officers.

North Yorkshire Police began its Operation Hibiscus investigation into historical abuse allegations after a BBC Inside Out report earlier this year which prompted 35 people to come forward.

'Sufficient evidence'

Police said 32 of the cases related to allegations against Jaconelli between 1958 and 1998 and five related to behaviour by Savile between 1979 and 1988, with two people claiming they were abused by both men.

Savile, a Radio 1 DJ who also presented the BBC's Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It, died aged 84 in October 2011 - a year before allegations that he had sexually abused children were broadcast in an ITV documentary.

Jaconelli was mayor of Scarborough in the 1970s and died in 1999. He was stripped of his civic honours by the town council in May after the child sex abuse allegations came to light.

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Media captionNorth Yorkshire Police say they are sorry they missed opportunities to arrest the men

North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy said: "The findings of Operation Hibiscus clearly suggest that there would have been sufficient evidence from 35 individual victims for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider criminal charges against Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile, had they been alive today.

"The available information indicates that, historically, the police missed opportunities to look into allegations against these men whilst they were still alive.

"North Yorkshire Police apologises to the victims who made the brave decision to come forward during the past 18 months."

But the force said it had not been possible to pursue lines of inquiry that would have involved interviews with Savile and Jaconelli, during which they may have disputed allegations against them.

The allegations against Jaconelli included indecent assault, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, gross indecency and rape.

Accusations against Savile ranged from sexual assault (or indecent assault under current law) to rape, police said.

Relatives of the former mayor have said they were not aware of any evidence that he committed any sexual crimes.

'Organisational failure'

The police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), conducted an investigation into North Yorkshire Police's handling of the historical allegations against Savile and Jaconelli after the force made a voluntary referral in April 2014.

It related to how the force responded in 2012 to information about alleged offences committed by Savile in the 1970s, and to allegations made against Jaconelli nine years after his death.

Mr Kennedy said: "A comprehensive investigation into these matters has now been completed by the Professional Standards Department.

"It concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct but there was evidence of organisational failure, with a number of lessons to be learned which have now been rectified for the future.

"This included actions such as clearly defining search parameters when checking historical records and ensuring that the appropriate department conducts such searches.

"Furthermore all operational meetings must be recorded, ensuring a full audit trail of decision-making throughout the process for openness and transparency."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Savile and Jaconelli were accused of sexually abusing children in Scarborough, North Yorkshire

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