Reaction to West Yorkshire Police report on Savile

The report into West Yorkshire Police's relationship with Jimmy Savile has shown how he "ran rings around" officers who were taken in by his fame, it has been claimed.

The force said it was currently dealing with 76 crimes, involving 68 victims, committed in the West Yorkshire area, but the report says none of these were reported to the force before his death.

Criminologist Mark Williams Thomas told the BBC he believed the report was "very very poor", describing it as "probably one of the worst reports I've seen".

Senior figures in the police force, experts representing rank and file officers and representatives of Savile's victims have been giving their initial reactions to the report:


West Yorkshire's Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee told the BBC: "I feel incredibly saddened that the victims didn't feel able to come forward, and we must do everything we can, working with our partners, to ensure that we understand the reasons why, to encourage more victims to come forward because we will listen.

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

"We are in a completely different place now and we will take what they say seriously and we will take action.

"Savile was a national celebrity. He duped millions of people, the police included, into believing that he was a celebrity, a charity fundraiser, a person who did good for the community."

She added: "But we must make sure that we do everything to ensure that our relationships with people, whether they are high-profile or not, are properly monitored and that there are safeguards in place to continue to protect the public and encourage victims to come forward."


West Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said it was "a real concern" that Savile was not questioned over allegations against him, including the claims he made in his own autobiography.

"It's quite apparent that things weren't joined up and mistakes were made.

"I do also need to point out that a referral has been made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

"It's one thing for West Yorkshire Police to carry out this investigation, which I've already said is right and proper and we need to learn all the lessons from this, but also in my view there does need to be this independent oversight of all the allegations and the force are co-operating fully with that.

"I can't put a timescale on that. That's a question for the IPCC. But they have been working on this for some months already."


Jon Christopher, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said he believed some officers may have been "duped" by Savile's celebrity status.

He said he feared the report could be seen as a whitewash by the public because nothing was written down on paper at the time about the entertainer because of who he was.

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Media captionJon Christopher, West Yorkshire Police Federation: "If there's nothing recorded anywhere, it's extremely difficult to prove otherwise"

"At the time Jimmy Savile was a very large character in Leeds and certainly some officers may well have been duped," he told the BBC.

"It could have been seen as a bit of kudos for someone to have a relationship with someone as prominent as him.

"Now times have changed and I do not believe that this would happen today."

He also said he feared the report might "knock public confidence" in the police, especially in the wake of the inquiries into police conduct following the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

"The overriding message we need to get across now is that people should have the confidence to come forward if they have anything to report."


Solicitor Alan Collins, who represents more than 40 of Savile's victims, said he was "not impressed" by the report.

He said: "It's protection by inadvertence. The report finds no wrongdoing on the part of officers, that's clear.

"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.

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Media captionJimmy Savile 'ran rings' around police forces

"There's collective myopia. The trail of evidence goes back to the late 1950s, and you have got a series of incidents over the decades, some referred to by Savile quite openly.

"He was brazen. He seems to have considered himself immune from any kind of scrutiny.

"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."


Lesley Mclean, Victim Support divisional manager for West Yorkshire, said: "We have supported many of Jimmy Savile's victims and have seen first hand how much suffering he inflicted on so many lives.

"We welcome the efforts West Yorkshire Police has made to be as transparent as possible about its relations with Savile during the years he was abusing girls, boys and young women and its own failures to share information internally and spot his pattern of offending.

"It is disturbing that none of Savile's victims in the West Yorkshire area felt able to come forward while he was still alive and we hope with help from organisations such as Victim Support the force will continue to improve public confidence in its ability to tackle sexual abuse.

"Unless victims have enough confidence in the criminal justice system to make complaints and give evidence against their abusers there remains the very real risk that other serial sexual abusers will go undetected."


Mark Williams Thomas, a criminologist and child protection expert, told the BBC the report was a "let down".

"The quality of the report is very very poor, probably one of the worst reports I've seen and certainly the worst report to date in respect of Savile," he said.

"Firstly, it fails to actually get to the crux of any of the issues, it skirts over the top of them, and when it does raise issues it fails to properly examine what those issues are.

"I'm hoping now that the Independent Police Complaints Commission will get to the bottom of what really took place within West Yorkshire."


The report highlighted that none of the victims reported their abuse to West Yorkshire Police before Savile's death.

Lawyer Liz Duck, who represents a number of Savile's West Yorkshire victims, said her clients did not come forward earlier because they feared not being believed.

Ms Duck said: "One called me today quite upset. She said 'It seems as if it's our fault but who was going to believe us?'.

"They were young, they were vulnerable and were very much of the mind-frame 'Who is going to believe us?'.

"What we have to learn from this is that we never, ever allow celebrity status to gain that kind of power again."

The lawyer said her clients were now waiting for important reports from hospitals where much of the abuse took place, including Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor.

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