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Would they actually have believed me?

A focus group exploration of the underreporting of crimes by Jimmy Savile

1.1 This report was commissioned by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and is authored by Louise Exton and Kamaljit Thandi. The authors are both qualified, registered social workers, and between them have twenty-five years’ experience of working in child protection. They are employed by the NSPCC working in the NSPCC Helpline as Team Managers.

1.2 In March 2013, HMIC published, “Mistakes were made.” their review into theallegations and intelligence material concerned Jimmy Savile between 1964 and 2012. In the executive summary of that report, they acknowledge their “serious concerns about the number of victims who felt unable to come forward at the time the assaults were committed to report Savile to the police.”

1.3 The first recommendation in the review seeks to ensure that “guidelines are issued to all Police forces about how to deal with investigations of child abuse following the death of the alleged perpetrator.” Further, in light of the low reporting rate, the second recommendation seeks to identify ways to encourage a culture in which victims feel able to report sexual crimes.

1.4 The NSPCC is one of the largest children’s charities in the UK, working towards ending cruelty to children. Following the broadcast of an ITV documentary in October 2012, in which a number of women alleged abuse against Jimmy Savile, the NSPCC Helpline became one of the primary referral mechanisms for victims who wished to report their abuse as part of Operation Yewtree.

1.5 Based upon this contact with victims, and on the Helpline’s existing capacity to provide emotional support as required, in April 2013, HMIC requested that the NSPCC carry out a series of focus groups with victims that had come forward. The aim of this was to identify common themes that prevented those victims from reporting to Police at the time of the abuse, and to explore how police can improve their management of the reporting process and subsequent interviews and contacts.

1.6 This report will detail the findings of the focus groups, identifying the broad themes that recurred throughout, and illustrating those themes with references to the specific experiences of those victims who participated. It will also highlight victims’ recommendations in regards to areas of potential change or development within police forces to improve the reporting process for those seeking to report a sexual crime.