Jimmy Savile was “a prolific, predatory sex offender” who committed abuse across several UK medical sites and could have been prosecuted for offences against at least three victims while he was alive, two separate reports said on Friday.
The disgraced TV presenter used his celebrity status to “hide in plain sight”, with 214 criminal offences now recorded against him across 28 police forces, a report by Scotland Yard and the NSPCC found.
It also revealed that Savile abused his victims at 14 medical sites including hospitals, mental health units and even a hospice.
Alison Levitt QC, legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said Savile could have been prosecuted in 2009 had police taken victims more seriously.
DPP Keir Starmer said: “I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases.
“If this report and my apology are to serve their full purpose, then this must be seen as a watershed moment.”
A total of 450 people have come forward alleging sexual abuse against Savile since October, and within the recorded crimes, there are 34 rapes and 126 indecent acts, the police and NSPCC report said.
Of his victims, 73% were children, with the total victim age range between eight and 47 years old at the time of the offences.
Commander Peter Spindler, who is leading the national investigation into Savile’s abuse, said: “Savile’s offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic. He cannot face justice today, but we hope this report gives some comfort to his hundreds of victims. They have been listened to and taken seriously.”
The offences involve the period when he worked at Leeds General Infirmary between 1965 and 1995.
Abuse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital took place between 1965 and 1988, while at Duncroft School, a children’s home, the allegations cover a period between 1970 and 1978.
The peak was between 1966 and 1976, when he was aged between 40 and 50.
Peter Watt, of the NSPCC, said: “The sheer scale of Savile’s abuse over six decades simply beggars belief. He is without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across and every number represents a victim that will never get justice now he is dead. But with this report we can at least show his victims that they have been taken seriously and their suffering has been recognised.”
But the report stopped short of apportioning blame to other institutions and agencies that may have “missed past opportunities” to stop Savile.
It said these institutions must do “all they can to make their procedures for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults as robust and rigorous as possible”.
Detective Superintendent David Gray, from the Met’s paedophile unit, said Savile must have thought about his sex offending “every minute of every waking day”.
Mr Gray said: “Much as I think Savile could turn up at a hospital and expect to be given a warm welcome, he went to a number of schools because children had written to him.
“His peak offending came with the peak of his success.”
Leeds Teaching Hospitals said it would look into any complaints made to police about incidents at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital, where Savile worked as a volunteer and fundraiser.
It said it would also investigate information given directly to the Trust about this “extremely distressing subject”.
A spokesman for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust said: “In early December, the Trust published the terms of reference for its internal investigation into matters relating to Jimmy Savile’s long-standing involvement with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals as a volunteer and fundraiser.
“This will be a thorough and detailed piece of work and will be carried out in conjunction with parallel investigations by the Department of Health and other trusts. Work is now under way and we expect our report will be ready towards the end of this year.
“As part of this work our panel will look at approaches from people who have contacted the Trust directly to share information on this extremely distressing subject.
“The panel will also examine in detail any information the police pass to us about incidents reported to them at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital.”