Manchester's Top Policeman: 'Saville Failings Could Happen Again"

12 March 2013, 10:46

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Sir Peter Fahy, is warning the failings highlighted in the Jimmy Savile scandal could happen again.

It comes as a report criticises police forces for missing chances to stop the paedophile and mishandling complaints from some of his victims.

The earliest known complaint against the TV presenter was in 1963.

Manchester's top policeman says weaknesses in the system mean such failings could happen again.

Sir Peter Fahy has used the scandal to highlight the need for some kind of national police set-up.

"Although we now have had a police national database operational since 2011 to enable forces to share intelligence it has to be acknowledged that having 43 separate police forces in England and Wales and no national headquarters for policing makes achieving consistent national standards all the more difficult.

The management of intelligence always involves some degree of subjectivity in assessing the reliability of that intelligence and its veracity - this is not an exact science.

When links are identified which cross force boundaries and periods of time there are some inevitable tensions in deciding which force will take on the investigation."

Aside from how police forces work together, Sir Peter says the scandal also shows how the criminal justice system may discourage abuse victims from coming forward.

"In sexual offences the behaviour of the victim, whether they had been drinking, any weaknesses of character how they were dressed may well be picked over at great length in the court room.

Where the details are particularly salacious or the case involves a celebrity then these very intimate detail will receive full publicity in the media but the main impact is the trauma the victim will go through in the court room.

This was sadly highlighted by the recent case involving Frances Andrade and the Chetham’s School of Music."

The Chief Constable says as a result police officers can be cautious about taking cases to court.

Overall, says Sir Peter, to focus solely on police failings ignores deeper, more fundamental problems.

"We can continue to criticise individual members of staff for individual failings but this ignores the complexity of these issues and the way that our system of criminal justice affects the victims of sexual offences.

There is little public support for a national police force as is being created in Scotland but while localism has many strengths it does make it more difficult when cases cross boundaries and when we are trying to achieve national standards."

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