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11/01/2013 - 15:35

Report published by Surrey Police into its investigation of Jimmy Savile

Statement from Surrey Police Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Kirkby:

"Prior to the Home Secretary's announcement of a review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into all police contact with Jimmy Savile, Surrey Police has undertaken an internal review of its 2007 investigation.

"This review is being published today in order to be clear and open about what action was taken, to avoid any inaccurate reports, and to share any lessons which can be learned.

"Victims of historic abuse cases are often reluctant to speak out for fear of not being believed and I welcome acknowledgement by the Principal Legal Advisor in her report today that officers at Surrey Police took the allegations seriously.

"It is important the actions taken by the investigation team are viewed in context. This should take into account what information was known about Jimmy Savile in 2007 and the necessary consideration given by police to the impact of their actions on securing successful court action against him.

"At the time, there was nothing to suggest the level of offending now being reported on a national scale. In July 2007, Surrey Police used national systems to conduct intelligence checks with every other police force in England and Wales. These checks found no record of any police intelligence or prior allegations relating to Jimmy Savile. The picture which was presented to Surrey Police as a result of these checks was that our investigation was the first police enquiry to be carried out into him.

"We now know previous allegations had been made including two in London, one in the 1980s and one in 2003. Whilst we cannot be certain what the outcome of an earlier connection to a wider pattern of offending would have been it may have altered the course of the Surrey investigation.

"The individual who reported witnessing an incident of sexual abuse at Duncroft Children's Home in the 1970s was taken seriously by Surrey Police, as were all victims subsequently identified by the investigation. Contact was made with West Yorkshire Police, where Savile was residing, and with Surrey Children's Services as part of the investigation strategy.

"The initial allegation prompted a series of enquiries both to former residents of Duncroft and to Barnardo's who managed the children's home during that period. Two further reports from the 1970s came to light as a result. One related to Savile asking a Duncroft resident to perform oral sex which she declined. The other was an allegation he kissed a teenage girl who was attending a concert at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. The girl was unconnected to the hospital and was not a patient.

"From an early stage officers recognised the complexities of securing a conviction in historic abuse cases. As such, advice was sought from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) during the course of the investigation. From the outset, the indication from the CPS was that they considered it unlikely these matters would result in a prosecution.

"As the investigation continued it was escalated to a senior level in the Force for oversight. At the time, the action taken was considered proportionate to the information being received. In hindsight, the focus of the investigation on a specific time period in the 1970s was too restrictive.

"The decision not to share accounts between victims has also been examined by the review. This decision was initially taken to ensure the integrity of evidence so there could be no suggestion of collusion, contamination or prompting between accounts - a factor which has led previous cases involving multiple victims to be dismissed in court.

"This was seen as best practice at the start of the investigation and it is noteworthy that current national police guidance continues to highlight disclosure of information between victims in such cases as a risk. However, it is right to question whether this was later balanced against the confidence of victims to support further legal action.

"It is not possible to know how this would have influenced individuals at the time but decisions around disclosure and victim care should have been reviewed at a later stage in the enquiry. The Force accepts more could have been done to encourage victims to support police action and we have apologised to each of the victims involved.

"I agree with the Director of Public Prosecutions that the officers involved were experienced and committed individuals who acted in good faith by seeking to work within national guidelines.

"The internal review has identified a number of learning points which will influence the way future reports of historical abuse cases are dealt with in Surrey.

"We will continue to co-operate with the HMIC as they conduct their national review and would support any new guidance issued by ACPO and the CPS on the handling of these complex cases.

"The Force has detectives specially trained in dealing with child abuse cases and a dedicated unit for investigating sexual assault offences. We remain committed to bringing abusers to justice and victims should continue to have confidence in coming forward.”

Surrey Police's full report on the investigation is available at http://www.surrey.police.uk/Portals/0/pdf/news/operation_ornament_report_11.01.2013.pdf