JIMMY Savile sexually assaulted children as young as 10 during nearly four decades of activity as a paedophile that took place in a string of institutions, including numerous hospitals, prisons and the BBC, the official inquiry by London’s Metropolitan Polic and Britain’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children will say today.
The 30-page report, Giving Victims a Voice, will describe how the celebrity abused up to 500 children and young people, and may have raped more than 30.
Of the allegations made so far, police have gathered sufficient evidence to record 200 sexually-related crimes by Savile across the country, committed using the power of his personality and fame to dupe a huge number of institutions – including, it is understood, at least one hospice – into giving him access to vulnerable people.
The number of institutions identified in the inquiry raises the spectre of a systemic failure that spread into every corner of British society.
Detectives and child protection experts working on the inquiry into Savile hope the report will mark a line in the sand – a cultural shift in attitudes between today and 30 years ago, when a blind eye was turned to such activity with children and young people and victims were not listened to.
Trevor Sterling, a lawyer who represents 45 of Savile’s victims, said: ‘‘They really want this report to be a cultural shift. But it still remains to be seen.
‘‘The victims have had a very difficult time because all of this has been so public, and that has to some extent compounded their sense of distress. But the inquiry has been handled sensitively by the police and [the victims] feel this report marks an enormous release because they have been able to tell their stories and to be believed.’’
The report – which will be presented by the senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent David Gray – will acknowledge that the police and other agencies, including the National Health Service, have failed victims over decades.
It will identify how at least seven victims came forward to police while Savile was alive to complain that they had been sexually assaulted, but their claims were not linked and did not lead to him being prosecuted.
Those who complained included a girl who came forward to the Metropolitan Police to report that she had been assaulted by Savile in his caravan in the grounds of BBC Television Centre in London in the 1970s.
The police received at least two complaints of sexual assault, Surrey police investigated four allegations and police in Jersey were alerted by a boy at the Haut de la Garenne children’s home that Savile had assaulted him. None of these complaints were acted upon. But other institutions, including the Department of Health, are also understood to have been identified as having potentially failed victims.
A string of hospitals have been identified, in addition to the ones already highlighted – Stoke Mandeville, Broadmoor and the Leeds General Infirmary – as providing an environment for Savile to meet young victims.
Prison facilities and a hospice for children have also been named as premises where Savile abused young people. Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused as Children, said: ‘‘The silver lining in all of this is that abusers might think twice about abusing children because the cat is out of the bag, and we have got to be optimistic that this does mark a significant change in attitudes.’’
We want this to mark a cultural shift so that if a child speaks out against someone, we take what they are saying seriously.
John Cameron, head of child protection for the NSPCC, which conducted the Savile inquiry with the police, said: ‘‘It is very clear that Savile assaulted very young children and that he was a prolific paedophile, there is no doubt about that.
‘‘We want this to mark a cultural shift so that if a child speaks out against someone, we take what they are saying seriously and we act upon it always in future. We have [moved] some way towards this but we need to move further.
‘‘We have to instil a culture within society, within families and within communities so that children know that if they are victims of abuse, it is OK to speak out because people will listen.’’
Many victims are now suing Savile’s estate, estimated to be worth more than £4 million ($A6 million), for damages for the abuse they suffered at the presenter’s hands.
Fourteen separate inquiries are continuing into how he was able to commit his crimes undetected for so long. These include an inquiry by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into investigative failures by police forces.
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