On 7 November 2012 I formally commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct a review to assess police knowledge of and response to the historical allegations made against Jimmy Savile and related individuals, and potentially into similar allegations against other individuals.
In particular, I asked that the review establish clearly which forces received reports or allegations in respect of Savile and related individuals prior to the launch of Operation Yewtree on 5 October 2012. For each of those forces, I asked HMIC to review the extent to which the allegations were robustly investigated and whether there were any police failings in doing so. HMIC has concluded its review and today published its report. A copy will be placed in the House Library.
HMIC conducted enquiries in all 43 police forces in England and Wales, and liaised with HMIC Scotland and the States of Jersey Police. Its review finds that, as far as police records disclose, five allegations of child sexual assault were made against Savile to the police between 1958 and 2009. In addition to these recorded allegations, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has traced two historical intelligence entries relating to Savile.
HMIC’s report makes it clear that failures by police forces, particularly in respect to the quality of investigations and the sharing of intelligence, enabled Savile to act with impunity for over five decades. It is also clear from the report that Savile could and should have been apprehended earlier and that there is more to do to ensure that the police have a fully effective and victim-centred approach to tackling child abuse. HMIC raises the possibility that such failures could be repeated. It calls for preventative action, and the report makes a number of specific recommendations which fall largely to police forces and the College of Policing.
I remain committed to taking forward the lessons learned from both this report and from the wider reviews which are ongoing in relation to historic child abuse. We need to ensure the law enforcement response to these terrible crimes is as good as it can be, to protect victims and deliver justice. As I have previously made clear in this House, the safeguarding of victims must be placed at the heart of our approach. If someone has been the victim of abuse and makes a report to the police, those in a position of authority and responsibility must not shirk in their duty to protect.
I am committed to ensuring that we also learn the lessons from this work to ensure that these mistakes could not be repeated today. HMIC will soon commence a further review into child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation which will focus on the adequacy of current processes and practices in police forces. The Director of Public Prosecutions has outlined further measures to overhaul the way our criminal justice system responds to victims of child sexual abuse. And I have asked my officials to conduct a thorough review of Home Office policies to ensure a robust and strengthened longer-term approach to delivering child protection within the Department and the police. This urgent work will ensure that the interests of victims are prioritised and the specific vulnerabilities of children are recognised and addressed.