West Yorkshire police held virtually no information about Jimmy Savile’s sex abuse before he died, despite more than 40 victims coming from the county, a damning report reveals.
Inspectors from a police watchdog criticised mistakes by forces nationwide in sharing information about the disgraced presenter and expressed “serious concerns” that so many victims felt unable to come forward.
Only five allegations and two pieces of intelligence were recorded by police in the entire country before his death in 2011 though one dated back as early as 1964, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary revealed.
And although Savile lived in West Yorkshire for much of his life and had dozens of local victims, the only significant recorded information about his criminal activities were held by other forces.
Officers in West Yorkshire held no “intelligence reports” about Savile which would have prompted further investigation and only one minor “information report”. This was despite newspaper reports being freely available online revealing that Savile was interviewed by West Yorkshire Police in 1958 and that he had been due to appear in court over sexual abuse allegations.
The report said mistakes by officers in Surrey, London and Sussex meant no one force was able to piece together the full extent of the Leeds-born DJ’s sexual abuse.
And it claimed inconsistencies in the way police shared information meant there was a “distinct possibility” officers could fail to prevent another similar scandal.
Drusilla Sharpling of HMIC said: “The findings in this report are of deep concern, and clearly there were mistakes in how the police handled the allegations made against Savile during his lifetime.”
“However, an equally profound problem is that victims felt unable to come forward and report crimes of sexual abuse.”
The report said West Yorkshire Police should have had access to three potentially vital pieces of information from other forces, though two were not made available to its officers.
The third piece of evidence, an anonymous letter alleging that Savile was a paedophile and was being blackmailed by a young boy, was sent to the Metropolitan Police in 1998.
This letter was never investigated by police in London and it is unclear whether West Yorkshire police ever received it, meaning an opportunity to involve local officers in Leeds was lost.
More than 450 claims have made against the former Top Of The Pops presenter after Operation Yewtree was launched by the Metropolitan Police in October.
Responding to the report, temporary Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee of West Yorkshire Police said she was “saddened” that victims’ accounts were not passed to the force or other agencies.