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Jimmy Savile was ''a prolific, predatory sex offender'' who could have been prosecuted for offences against at least three victims while he was alive, two separate reports said today.
The disgraced TV presenter used his celebrity status to ''hide in plain sight'', with 214 criminal offences now recorded against him across 28 police forces, a report by Scotland Yard and the NSPCC found.
It also revealed that Savile abused his victims at 14 medical sites including hospitals, mental health units and even a hospice.
One of the cases was at Portsmouth Royal Hospital in the 1960s. The hospital was on the site where Sainsbury's in Commercial Road now stands, it closed in 1978.
Alison Levitt QC, legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said Savile could have been prosecuted in 2009 had police taken victims more seriously.
DPP Keir Starmer said: ''I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases.
''If this report and my apology are to serve their full purpose, then this must be seen as a watershed moment.''
A total of 450 people have come forward alleging sexual abuse against Savile since October, and within the recorded crimes, there are 34 rapes and 126 indecent acts, the police and NSPCC report said.
Of his victims, 73% were children, with the total victim age range between eight and 47 years old at the time of the offences.
Commander Peter Spindler, who is leading the national investigation into Savile's abuse, said: ''Savile's offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic. He cannot face justice today, but we hope this report gives some comfort to his hundreds of victims. They have been listened to and taken seriously.''
Mr Spindler said so far 617 people had made contact with officers investigating claims against Savile and other figures in the entertainment industry, with 450 directly relating to Savile.
The police report found that the earliest reported offence committed by Savile was in Manchester in 1955, and the final reported allegation was in 2009.
The offences cover the period when Savile worked at the BBC between 1965 and 2006 and include allegations linked to the final recording of Top of the Pops.
They also involve the period when he worked at Leeds General Infirmary between 1965 and 1995.
Abuse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital took place between 1965 and 1988, while at Duncroft School, a children's home, the allegations cover a period between 1970 and 1978.
The peak was between 1966 and 1976, when he was aged between 40 and 50.
Peter Watt, of the NSPCC, said: ''The sheer scale of Savile's abuse over six decades simply beggars belief. He is without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across and every number represents a victim that will never get justice now he is dead. But with this report we can at least show his victims that they have been taken seriously and their suffering has been recognised.''
The police and NSPCC report said Savile's offending presents ''a potential watershed''.
It concluded that Savile was an ''opportunistic individual who used his celebrity status as a powerful tool to coerce and control'' his victims.
The report said it would be ''naive'' to view the case as the isolated behaviour of a ''rogue celebrity'' - but the ''context of the 1960s and 1970s'' need to be recognised.
''It was an age of different social attitudes and the workings of the criminal justice system at the time would have reflected this,'' it said.
But the report stopped short of apportioning blame to other institutions and agencies that may have ''missed past opportunities'' to stop Savile.
It said these institutions must do ''all they can to make their procedures for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults as robust and rigorous as possible''.
Presenting the report at New Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent David Gray said: ''The sheer scale and the severity of his offending is appalling.''
Peter Watt, director of child protection advice and awareness at NSPCC, said Savile was one of the most prolific sex offenders the NSPCC has dealt with in its 129-year history.
''It's clear Savile cunningly built his entire life into gaining access to vulnerable children.''
Mr Watt said the publicity surrounding the Savile inquiry had triggered a surge in abuse victims of offenders other than Savile to come forward - with 5,000 calls taken by its hotline in October alone.
Addressing doubts over the motivations of some of those who came forward to make allegations against Savile, Mr Watt said the version of events given by some showed that it was ''beyond doubt'' that the attacks took place.
Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), who is a victim of child abuse, said: ''I want us to forget Jimmy Savile. He is not worthy of memory. But I want us to remember his many victims and the victims out there unable to come forward.''
The report revealed that Savile was accused of sexually touching a teenage hospice patient, aged 13 to 16.
His final offence at the BBC was at the recording of the last Top Of The Pops, sexually touching another victim in the same age range.
His youngest victim was an eight-year-old boy, who was sexually assaulted.
Detective Superintendent David Gray, from the Met's paedophile unit, said Savile must have thought about his sex offending ''every minute of every waking day''.
The DJ was ''clever enough'' to pick on the most vulnerable victims so that they would not speak out.
Allegations against him include 14 offences relating to schools across the country, partly when children had written to him as part of Jim'll Fix It.
Mr Gray said: ''Much as I think Savile could turn up at a hospital and expect to be given a warm welcome, he went to a number of schools because children had written to him.
''His peak offending came with the peak of his success.''
Mr Gray said there was no evidence to suggest that he was part of a paedophile ring, but he might have been part of ''an informal network'' of abusers.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals said it would look into any complaints made to police about incidents at Leeds General Infirmary and St James's University Hospital, where Savile worked as a volunteer and fundraiser.
It said it would also investigate information given directly to the Trust about this ''extremely distressing subject''.
A spokesman for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: ''In early December, the Trust published the terms of reference for its internal investigation into matters relating to Jimmy Savile's long-standing involvement with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals as a volunteer and fundraiser.
''This will be a thorough and detailed piece of work and will be carried out in conjunction with parallel investigations by the Department of Health and other NHS trusts. Work is now under way and we expect our report will be ready towards the end of this year.
''As part of this work our panel will look at approaches from people who have contacted the Trust directly to share information on this extremely distressing subject.
''The panel will also examine in detail any information the police pass to us about incidents reported to them at Leeds General Infirmary and St James's University Hospital.''