New police chief: There must never be another Savile

The new chief constable of West Yorkshire police, Mark Gilmore, at the force's headquarters in WakefieldThe new chief constable of West Yorkshire police, Mark Gilmore, at the force's headquarters in Wakefield
The new chief constable of West Yorkshire police, Mark Gilmore, at the force's headquarters in Wakefield
THE new chief constable of West Yorkshire Police has called for the way officers deal with child sex abuse allegations to be “fundamentally re-shaped” in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Mark Gilmore, who took over the region’s largest police force yesterday after the resignation of Sir Norman Bettison last year, pledged he would do “all I can” to stop similar abuse happening again.

A recent report criticised West Yorkshire and other forces for errors that allowed the Leeds-born DJ to carry out his abuse over five decades and warned the same failings could re-occur.

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But Mr Gilmore, who said his priority was to make communities “feel cared for and safe”, said: “I have a duty to make sure that couldn’t happen in the way that it did.”

The former assistant chief constable at West Yorkshire, who re-joined after a spell at Northumbria Police, said “proper processes” and “quality people” should be put in place to ensure complaints are dealt with properly.

“It is about creating an environment where people feel duty bound to come forward to report these things in a confidential way,” he added.

“It is about how we respond to those reports being received, particularly when they are about powerful people, and giving people confidence they can talk to their local police officer.

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“There are a number of things that need to fundamentally be re-shaped to make sure that all comes together so that those things don’t happen.

“What I can give you is a commitment to doing all I can to make sure any lessons that need to be learned are being learned and, more importantly, applied to make sure we don’t have any instances in the future.”

A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary revealed only five allegations and two pieces of intelligence about Savile’s activities were recorded by police in the entire country before his death in 2011.

Although the disgraced DJ 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.

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West Yorkshire should have received three key pieces of intelligence, inspectors said, but has only been able to confirm receipt of a letter from the Met in 1998 accusing Savile of being a “deeply committed paedophile”.

And it ruled that inconsistencies in intelligence-sharing by police forces meant there was a “distinct possibility” the failure to identify Savile’s pattern of abuse could be repeated.

Mr Gilmore said his priority in his new role was to ensure local communities and police officers “believe and know and understand that we really care about them, genuinely care about them as a 
force and do all we can to protect them”.

His plans include sending more officers into primary schools to build early relationships with families and pre-emptively tackle issues such as truancy, drug use and exploitation.

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“I am talking to education authorities about how that can be possible, what are the benefits of doing that for individual schools and for families and children in these schools,” he said.

The new chief constable was appointed following the resignation of Sir Norman Bettison last year over his alleged part in a cover-up after the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where 96 Liverpool fans 

A report last week revealed Sir Norman, who faces a wider investigation over his role in the aftermath of the disaster, tried to “manipulate” the way complaints about him were referred to a watchdog to protect his own reputation.

Mr Gilmore said: “I welcome very much the fact that the inquiry is being undertaken and Sir Norman has agreed to co-operate... I think that as soon as that due process is travelled through the better for everyone concerned.”