Suffolk; Jimmy Savile-effect sees historic child sex abuse reports rise by 55%
- Credit: Archant
Historic child sex abuse allegations have risen by 55 per cent since Jimmy Savile was unmasked as a paedophile, according to Suffolk Constabulary figures.
Detectives say the huge increase in reports of assaults dating back more than a year mirrors the situation nationally.
In the 12 months after ITV’s Exposure documentary ‘The Other Side of Jimmy Savile’ was aired on October 3 last year Suffolk police received 134 reports of historic child abuse. This compares to 86 reports in the year before the programme.
Earlier this year police in the county said they had passed on the details of three people to the Met Police who are investigating the late DJ and television presenter who died in 2011 as part of Operation Yewtree.
Detective Inspector Tonya Antonis, of Suffolk’s serious sexual offence team, said the Savile programme appeared to be a watershed for victims who have kept their abuse secret for years.
“I would certainly say it is one of the impacting factors we have seen. Because of the media interest in Operation Yewtree the public has seen police will deal with serious sexual allegations, listen to victims, and investigate historic cases.
“What is happening in Suffolk is being reflected nationwide with similar percentage increases of between 30% and 50%.
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“In the past year we have seen an increase in historic cases with people coming forward to report incidents over more than a year old.
“What we are seeing is the public having the confidence to come forward and make these historic reports, which maybe they would not before.
“I think it is one of the positive things to have come out of Operation Yewtree.
“Even if it is something that has happened 30 or 40 years ago we are able to signpost the victim to get the appropriate support.”
A growing number of reports have inevitably meant a rise in the workload of officers who investigate sexual offences, not only numerically but in terms of the difficulties they present.
Det Insp Antonis said: “We have dedicated specialist investigators. Due to the increase in demand the constabulary’s chief officers have been really supportive and allocated more resources to the teams across the county.
“With historic cases they take a lot longer to investigate because you don’t necessarily have the forensic opportunities, or you have to go much wider geographically so it can involve travelling to other parts of the country.
“We may also have to check any documentation from the time such as school records, social care records or medical records.
“Once someone is brave enough to come forward it is about managing their expectations.
“We will listen to them and support them. We take crimes of this nature very seriously and will conduct a very thorough investigation no matter how old the crime is.”
In October Peter Lee, 75, who ran The Woolpack pub in Haverhill in the late 1970s, was jailed for nine years for sexually abusing two schoolgirls more than three decades ago.
The victims were said to have come forward following publicity about the Jimmy Savile inquiry.
Anyone who wants to contact police should telephone 101. Alternatively if you do not wish to speak to police but need help and support contact www.theferns-suffolk.org.uk