Reports of sex crimes up through Savile effect

There has been an increase in the reporting of historic sexual offences since revelations about Jimmy Savile, according to new research.

Jimmy Savile
Jimmy Savile

Figures obtained from police forces by BBC Radio 5 live provide evidence of the so-called “Savile effect”, with victims of sexual abuse prompted to come forward by disclosures that the late presenter was a serial sex attacker.

The number of sexual offences recorded by police across the UK increased by more than nine per cent after the broadcast of a programme about Savile aired on ITV on October 3 last year.

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BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast submitted a Freedom of Information request to all 45 UK police forces, asking the number of allegations of offences under the Sexual Offences Act recorded by the force between October 1 2011 and March 31 2012, April 1 2012 and September 30 2012 and October 1 2012 and March 31 2013.

Some 34 of the forces – all of which replied to the study – saw a year-on-year rise in recorded sexual offences. There was a 9.2 per cent rise overall in the six months from October 1 2012, compared to the same six month period a year before. Offences rose from 30,267 in the period from October 2011 to March 2012 to 33,048 from October 2012 to March 2013.

The biggest rise was in Bedfordshire, which saw a 92 per cent rise in recorded sexual offences year on year. The second biggest was in West Yorkshire, Savile’s local force, which saw a 66 per cent rise in recorded sexual offences year on year, up from 938 in the six months to April 1 2012, to 1,560 in the same period a year later (the six months after the Savile programme aired).

West Yorkshire Police say 79 of the recorded crimes in the most recent period related to Savile, and that he alone accounted for 12 per cent of the rise.