Police watchdog clears officer over handling of Savile abuse claims

Have your say

A NORTH Yorkshire Police officer has no case to answer for misconduct following his handling of an allegation of abuse against Jimmy Savile more than a decade ago, the police watchdog has said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated the conduct of the detective sergeant, who was a detective constable at the time, in relation to claims first made by a woman in Scarborough in 2002.

In its report, the commission said that the woman, who was then 37, talked to the officer when he was involved in a wider historic child sex abuse inquiry.

She told him how, when she was 16, she went to Savile’s flat with a 15-year-old friend and there was some kind of sexual contact between the TV star and her companion.

The commission said the officer claimed the woman eventually told him that her friend would not make a complaint and refused to tell him any more about the girl.

Then, according to the report, the officer met with the woman again after Savile’s death in 2011. This time, she told him that she had lied about details of the incident she had described in 2002. She said she had actually been alone with the broadcaster and she had been under-age.

In a statement during the investigation, the officer said: “I asked her if she now wanted to make a formal complaint about what had happened with Savile, and she refused to do so.”

The IPCC said today it had concluded that the detective investigated “diligently and professionally” in relation to this woman and also in relation to another case in which a prisoner made allegations to him about Savile’s friend and well-known Scarborough figure, the late Peter Jaconelli.

Its report said the woman was very supportive of the officer involved.

But it did criticise the detective for not submitting intelligence reports.

IPCC Commissioner Carl Gumsley said: “North Yorkshire Police has previously admitted that they missed opportunities to look into allegations against both Savile and Jaconelli while they were alive.

“Had intelligence information been better recorded it would have helped build up a picture of Savile and Jaconelli’s activities.

“However in terms of a detective constable who had a primary role in both the investigations, we examined these omissions and found that, while of concern, they did not amount, in the view of the investigation, to a case to answer for misconduct.”

The commission said it also has an independent investigation under way into how North Yorkshire Police handled a report received in October 2000 from a man alleging, when he was a young boy in the early 1970s, that he was sexually assaulted at locations in the Scarborough area by Jaconelli, who died in 1999.

Last year, North Yorkshire Police apologised to victims of Savile and Jaconelli after concluding that officers missed opportunities to properly investigate the two men over alleged child abuse when they were still alive.

This followed an investigation which concluded there would have been enough evidence to consider prosecuting them.

The force said 35 people had come forward with allegations about the pair.

A spokesman said 32 cases related to Jaconelli, between 1958 and 1998, and included allegations of indecent assault, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, gross indecency and rape.

In the case of Savile, there were five reported offences, from 1979 to 1988, which ranged from sexual assault to rape. Two people claimed to be victims of both men.

The spokesman said at the time: “Sufficient evidence has been uncovered to suggest that, had they been alive today, files would have been submitted for consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service regarding potential criminal charges against Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile, relating to young people.”

Paul Kennedy, Assistant Chief Constable at North Yorkshire Police, said: “North Yorkshire Police welcomes the IPCC report which gives clarity to the events that led to the voluntary referral to the IPCC and clears the officer of any misconduct. While there are learning points to take from the report, it is also balanced by acknowledging the officer’s tenacity and competence in dealing with serious matters.

“We see the devastating effects of sexual abuse which can last a life time and would like to reassure victims that since the events referred to in the report, there have been many improvements across North Yorkshire Police in the way sexual crimes are dealt with.

“All reports are treated with the utmost seriousness and sensitivity, and as acknowledged in the IPCC’s report, we now have specially trained officers who are dedicated to investigating such offences. They are highly trained and experienced in this specialist area of investigation. We also work with a range of partner agencies who can provide victims with support and advice. Even if it is not possible for a criminal case to be brought before the courts due to the passage of time, victims can still receive support to help them come to terms with what has happened and move on with their lives.”

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “The IPCC report is welcome scrutiny on what is an issue of significant public interest. It is further proof that the police service collectively could have done more to protect the public from Savile and Jaconelli. It is clear however that the officer in question in North Yorkshire did a ‘professional’ investigation, but failed to submit the report which could have been useful to future investigations.

“Separately, the Chief Constable and I agreed to undertake a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) health check, and were reassured with the approach taken in North Yorkshire. There is clear, concerted effort to tackle CSE in North Yorkshire by working with partners and supporting victims.”