THE POLICE CHIEF in charge of the investigation into allegations made against Jimmy Savile has said his team are dealing with “alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale”.
Scotland Yard also revealed that it would be investigating some people who are still alive but gave no further details.
Commander Peter Spindler’s remarks came as the Metropolitan Police formally moved the enquiry from an assessment to a formal criminal investigation.
Operation Yewtree will examine all alleged sexual exploitation by the late BBC presenter, as well as a number of others.
Officers have been gathering information over the past two weeks and say they now have about 400 leads. More than 200 potential victims have also been identified.
“As we have said from the outset, our work was never going to take us into a police investigation into Jimmy Savile. What we have established in the last two weeks is that there are lines of inquiry involving living people that require formal investigation,” London police said in a statement.
Spindler continued, “The public’s response to this issue has been astounding. We are dealing with alleged abuse on an unprecedented scale. The profile of this operation has empowered a staggering number of victims to come forward to report the sexual exploitation which occurred during their childhood.
“I am pleased that victims feel confident enough to speak out about the abuse they suffered and would like to reassure the public that we take all these cases very seriously and they will be investigated with the utmost sensitivity.”
Detectives acknowledged the appointment of Dame Janet Smith to lead the BBC-commissioned review into the matter and advised the broadcaster that it could begin to examine the issues in parallel with the police investigation.
According to Spindler, a protocol will be developed to ensure any future potential criminal action is not jeopardised.
Inquiries into Savile’s relationship with Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor and Leeds General Infirmary are also due to begin.
The NSPCC said today that it has referred 136 calls directly relating to the case to the police so far. Head of the agency’s helpline Peter Watt said it is now looking possible that the TV man was “one of the most prolific sex offenders the NSPCC has ever come across.”
Savile was the presenter of programmes including Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix it. He died on 29 October 2011, aged 84. An ITV documentary aired earlier this month sparked the investigation as it detailed claims from five women that the DJ and presenter sexually abused them on BBC premises when they were teenagers.