Friday, 10 May 2013

Savile: West Yorkshire Police Clear Themselves

IN a report into themselves the West Yorkshire Police said that they found 'no evidence' that Jimmy Savile was protected from arrest or prosecution by his pally relations with the force.  However, it admitted that there had been an 'over-reliance on personal friendships' between Savile and some officers, and that 'mistakes were made' in the handling of intelligence.  Tons of allegations of abuse had come to light after his death in October 2011.

Speaking after publication of the report, Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said:
'They didn't know, the people engaged with Jimmy Savile, that actually there were these allegations against him...  There clearly was information available that we should have tied together and we did fail victims in relation to tying that evidence together and we should have done.  If he were alive today, there's absolutely no doubt that he would have had a number of questions to answer.'

The West Yorkshire Police report reveals Savile was used to front a number of the force's campaigns, including one called Talking Signs, where a recording of his voice was broadcast from lamp posts offering crime prevention advice.  The report claimed that at the time he was 'seen by most of the public as a man who did good work' and it concluded there were concerns about what it described as 'the over-reliance on personal friendships that developed between Savile and some officers over a number of years':  furthermore it stated - 'He (Savile) was able to manage his public persona in such a way that he deceived most people he met' and that 'he was a manipulative man who exploited to the worst possible degree the trust people placed in him.'

A lawyer,  Alan Collins, who is a specialist in child abuse, and who is representing 40 of Savile's victims together with a number who claim to have been violated by the former Rochdale Liberal - Democrat MP, Sir Cyril Smith who died in 2010, said today:
'It's protection by inadvertence. It's all about failing to join up the dots. There was intelligence, but that intelligence wasn't shared or used, so Savile was able to run rings around police forces.  I think if that relationship [with Savile] wasn't there, and the police officers were not blinkered in who they were dealing with because of his celebrity, then maybe the evidence that was available would have been looked at with a sharper eye.'

This report does not inspire much confidence in the ability of the West Yorkshire Police to manage their records.  In the recent past Northern Voices has had experience in a minor case of assault of certain slip-ups with regard to the storage and exchange of evidence between the police and the CPS.  The solicitor Alan Collins says 'maybe the evidence that was available would have been looked at with a sharper eye' if some of the West Yorkshire police had not been so cosy in their local relationship with Savile; this may have been so but the documentary sloppiness that has been demonstrated in the Savile case also prevailed in some of the other cases including that of Sir Cyril Smith which now seems to have slipped off the radar. 

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