Jimmy Savile helped police crime campaigns despite sex offence warnings
Published 10/05/2013 | 09:19
JIMMY SAVILE was used to front a police force’s crime prevention campaign despite allegations about his possible sex offending being made in other parts of the country, a review found today.
The West Yorkshire Police (WYP) report disclosed that the disgraced BBC star’s services were still being used in 2007 despite potential warnings from Surrey Police that he may be a sex offender.
The 59-page report found the force made a series of intelligence blunders that helped him evade justice.
It found police officers were friends with Savile and they regularly joined him for 'coffee mornings' at his Leeds flat, and that one Inspector said Savile got "so many" complaints of sexual impropriety.
It said the public may be surprised that there was no record of any complaints or an investigation into him, despite him having dozens of victims and an "over-reliance on personal friendships" between Savile and some officers.
Yet despite these findings, the report concluded the former Top of the Pops presenter did not get special police protection from arrest or prosecution. His relationship with police was not corrupt, it concluded.
Representatives of Savile's victims said the report did not "add up" and the force was guilty of "collective myopia".
Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee admitted that police were "duped for many years" by Savile and that officers had "failed [his] victims".
The report, the culmination of a five-month review of all past contact with Savile, also said 68 of his victims, involving 76 crimes, have now come forward in the force area.
His youngest victim was just five years of age and the oldest was 45, with almost three in four being female. None were reported before his death in 2011. The majority of these offences were committed in the 1970s and 1980s.
But despite the scale of his offending the review found no evidence of allegations being made or of a police investigation. The report said this lack of investigation may surprise the public.
"The force does recognise that some people may have difficulty in reconciling this fact; indeed WYP has difficulty in reconciling this, as since October 2012, 68 victims have come forward to report Savile's abuse in the West Yorkshire area," it said.
The report examined the history of Savile's relationship with the force, including reports that officers attended his well-known 'Friday Morning Club' at his Leeds flat.
The review, code-named Operation Newgreen, cleared police of wrongdoing despite finding the prolific sex offender had developed “personal friendships” with officers.
Today’s report found there was “no evidence” of impropriety or misconduct by the force, instead concluding that Savile was able to “hide” his offending from those who he had contact with.
It did raise “concern” about the failed dealings surrounding the Surrey request to check what records were held on him as part of its investigation into Duncroft Approved School, where Savile abused pupils.
It concluded: "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."
It said the initial contact from Surrey Police was made through WYP's anti-corruption unit but this was only to maintain confidentiality. It dismissed suggestions of corrupt relationships within WYP.
In June 2009 Surrey Police wrote to Savile asking that he make contact and it is documented that WYP offered officer support if that interview was to be in West Yorkshire.
The report said an inspector from WYP – Insp A – contacted Surrey Police control on behalf of Savile because the DJ had lost the investigating officer's contact details.
During that conversation Insp A said he was a personal friend of Savile. He added: "Jimmy gets so many of these type of complaints". Insp A provided a contact number to Surrey Police for Savile.
The report said that Surrey officers said "that on initial contact, Savile had told them there was a West Yorkshire Inspector who normally deals with this sort of thing".
The review found Savile's relationship with the force was "informal" and based on a friendship with the serving officer.
"There is no evidence that he was protected from arrest or prosecution for any offences as a result of his relationship with WYP, or individual friendships with officers,” concluded the report from Det Ch Supt David Knopwood.
"No evidence has been found to conclude that there was any impropriety or misconduct in relation to the Friday Morning Club.
"All of those people spoken to who had knowledge of the Friday Morning Club described it as a 'coffee morning'.”
It added: "All inquiries have shown that Savile was able to hide his offending from those he came into contact with and who probably thought that they knew him well."
The report said: "The review did find that mistakes were made in how WYP recorded and handled some intelligence relating to Savile."
The report also examined the way in which WYP used Savile's celebrity status to front a range of campaigns and appeals.
It said that at the time he was "seen by most of the public as a man who did good work".
It added: "The review team have concerns regarding the absence of a process to secure Savile's services for some of these events and also the over reliance on personal friendships that developed between Savile and some officers over a number of years to secure that support."
The review also examined suggestions Savile was a "person of interest" in the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry in the 1970s.
It found that many records has been destroyed but they had found thousands of record cards with information about men who had been spoken to.
The report said: "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."
"One card does make reference to Savile offering his services as an intermediary for the police, should the 'Ripper' wish to make contact."
Following the report, a separate inquiry has been launched into claims the Leeds Vice Squad investigated allegations of indecent assault by Savile on two girls in the 1980s.
While there was no record of such an inquiry, the Independent Police Complaints Commission was looking into it as "the information has come from a retired police officer who was clear in his assertion that an investigation was conducted into Savile".
Today’s review comes after a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) highlighted failings by forces across Britain.
The HMIC report, published earlier this year, said West Yorkshire Police claimed it had no information relating to Savile's crimes in the area.
It also found that "inquiries were continuing in an effort to identify" an anonymous letter sent to the force by Scotland Yard in 1998, which claimed Savile was a paedophile.
Before today’s report more than 40 victims from West Yorkshire had come forward since Operation Yewtree was launched by the Metropolitan Police in October.
West Yorkshire Police said the report would be passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Alan Collins, who represents more than 40 of Savile's victims, said he was "not impressed".
He told ITV's Daybreak: "The report begs a lot more questions. It provides some answers but the report reveals memories that are not as sharp as perhaps they ought to be, 'can't remember', documents that can't seem to be located. It doesn't add up."
Jon Christopher, of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said people would ask precisely what was "going on" between Savile and senior police officers.
He said: "I think people will look at it and think 'what is going on there?'"
"Because clearly he has been involved with a lot of officers and not just police officers, but other professionals as well.
Mr Christopher added of the officers concerned: "I think the problem we've got there is the people themselves will know what relationships they had and the extent of those relationships and if there is nothing recorded anywhere I think it is extremely difficult to prove otherwise."
Ass Chief Constable Lee said in her introduction to the report: "There is no doubt that police forces made mistakes in relation to sharing and keeping information relating to Savile so no single clear picture of his offending could be made.
"As Savile's home police force, WYP would have been the obvious place to collect all such information, but investigation has shown that much of the available information during Savile's lifetime was never shared with WYP and, when it was WYP, did not connect the events to recognise a potential pattern of offending."