Jimmy Savile could have been prosecuted whilst he was still alive had police taken the testimony of his sex abuse victims more seriously.
The disgraced TV presenter was described as "a prolific, predatory sex offender" who abused his victims over a span of 54 years, a report by Scotland Yard and the NSPCC found.
The earliest reported offence committed by Savile was in Manchester in 1955, and the final reported allegation was in 2009, when he was 82. He used his celebrity status to "hide in plain sight."
- 40 male victims, 10 of them under 10 years old.
- 174 female victims, 18 of them under 10 years old.
- Peak offending period between 1966 and 1976, when Savile between 40 and 50
- Savile may have been part of 'informal' paedophile network
- Victims between eight and 47 years old at time of abuse
- 34 rapes formally recorded, 26 victims female, eight victims male
Savile abused his victims at 14 medical sites including hospitals, mental health units and even a hospice. Alltogether 214 criminal offences were recorded against him across 28 police forces.
Peter Watt, NSPCC Director of Child Protection Advice and Awareness, who co-authored the report, said that the scale of Savile's abuse "simply beggared belief."
"We know from the huge increase in calls to the NSPCC helpline about sexual abuse that the problem did not die with Savile," said Mr Watt.
"It's clear Savile cunningly built his entire life into gaining access to vulnerable children," he added.
The report revealed that Savile was accused of sexually touching a teenage hospice patient, aged 13 to 16.
Alison Levitt QC, legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said Savile could have faced justice for at least three offences in 2009 had police taken victims more seriously.
The country's top prosecutor Keir Starmer apologised for their failings, saying: "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.
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.
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 procede.
Allegations against Savile 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.
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
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.
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.
Commander Peter Spindler, who is leading the national investigation into Savile's abuse, 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.
He 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."