England

Jimmy Savile 'not protected' from arrest, West Yorkshire Police say

  • 10 May 2013
  • From the section England

A West Yorkshire Police report has found "no evidence" Jimmy Savile was protected from arrest or prosecution by his relationship with the force.

But it highlighted an "over-reliance on personal friendships" between Savile and some officers, and said "mistakes were made" in handling intelligence.

The force's assistant chief constable admitted "we did fail victims".

Hundreds of allegations of abuse by the former BBC entertainer emerged after his death in October 2011.

Speaking after publication of the report, Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said: "They didn't know, the people engaged with Jimmy Savile, that actually there were these allegations against him. That's what our investigations found out.

"There clearly was information available that we should have tied together and we did fail victims in relation to tying that evidence together and we should have done.

"If he were alive today, there's absolutely no doubt that he would have had a number of questions to answer."

Friday Morning Club

The police said the report would be passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The West Yorkshire Police review, named Operation Newgreen, comes after a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) highlighted failings by police forces across Britain.

Image caption Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said the force failed Savile's victims

West Yorkshire Police (WYP) said there were "currently 76 crimes involving 68 victims committed in the West Yorkshire area relating to Savile", but claimed none of these were reported to the force before his death.

Listen: One of Savile's friends, who did not want to be named, talks about the social meetings involving police officers

The youngest of these victims was five years old at the time and eight others were aged nine or under.

The WYP report reveals Savile was used to front a number of the force's campaigns, including one called Talking Signs, where a recording of his voice was broadcast from lamp posts offering crime prevention advice.

The report stressed that at the time he was "seen by most of the public as a man who did good work".

It concluded there were concerns about "the over-reliance on personal friendships that developed between Savile and some officers over a number of years".

"He (Savile) was able to manage his public persona in such a way that he deceived most people he met. He was a manipulative man who exploited to the worst possible degree the trust people placed in him.

"This is little consolation to his victims and WYP accept there are lessons that must be learned and implemented quickly."

'No checks made'

Part of the investigation looked at the disgraced broadcaster's "Friday Morning Club", after reports that officers regularly attended his flat in Leeds while on duty.

The report said: "In spite of the rumour and speculation surrounding this meeting, no evidence has been found of any police impropriety or misconduct."

The HMIC report published in March said police forces mishandled complaints and missed opportunities to apprehend Savile, and highlighted failures of forces to share information with one another.

In 2007, Surrey Police asked the West Yorkshire force to check what records it held relating to Savile in connection with its investigation at Duncroft School and an inquiry into suspected offences dating back to 1964.

The latest report said that even after it had received this request, "WYP continued to use him as part of local crime prevention campaigns.

"The reason for this was that the information was not shared across departments, there was no recognition of the impact of this information and no checks were made on intelligence systems in securing Savile's services."

The review also examined suggestions Savile was a "person of interest" in the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry in the 1970s.

Although they found thousands of record cards with information about men who had been spoken to it also found many records had since been destroyed.

The report insists: "They contain scant information and do not indicate whether Savile was a 'person of interest' to the inquiry team.

"The information held was his name, date of birth, home address and various reference numbers. It was not possible to establish the relevance of the reference numbers as a large proportion of the investigation paperwork had been destroyed in the 1980s."

But the review said: "One card does make reference to Savile offering his services as an intermediary for the police, should the 'Ripper' wish to make contact."

As a result of the WYP review, a separate inquiry will take place into reports that the Leeds Vice Squad had looked into allegations of indecent assault by Savile on two girls in the 1980s.

The force said there was no record of an investigation taking place, but have referred the matter to the IPCC as "the information has come from a retired police officer who was clear in his assertion that an investigation was conducted into Savile".

'Mistakes were made'

A separate IPCC referral relates to an anonymous letter sent to Scotland Yard in 1998, which was forwarded to West Yorkshire Police.

It claimed Savile had a "secret life" and was a "deeply committed paedophile".

The review team spoke to the Metropolitan police officer who is believed to have sent the letter to West Yorkshire Police by fax.

He told them he had sent a number of other letters "of a similar nature" to the force, but the report said searches by West Yorkshire and the Metropolitan Police (MPS) did not manage to locate them.

"The review did find that mistakes were made in how WYP recorded and handled some intelligence relating to Savile.

"By 1998 process reviews, legislation, new technology and performance management have all been introduced to equip WYP to effectively and robustly manage its intelligence and information.

"However problems still occurred in how WYP dealt with the anonymous letter relating to Savile forwarded by MPS in 1998."

'Serious issues'

A lawyer representing 40 of Savile's victims, Alan Collins, said the report "doesn't add up".

Mr Collins said: "It's protection by inadvertence. It's all about failing to join up the dots. There was intelligence, but that intelligence wasn't shared or used, so Savile was able to run rings around police forces.

"I think if that relationship [with Savile] wasn't there, and the police officers were not blinkered in who they were dealing with because of his celebrity, then maybe the evidence that was available would have been looked at with a sharper eye."

West Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said there were "serious issues arising from the report".

"I will now be discussing with the new chief constable the lessons that need to be learnt and to make sure that the recommended actions are implemented, including the new arrangements for dealing with high-profile individuals and serious work to understand better why victims did not come forward at the time when Savile was alive," he said.

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