Jimmy Savile was free to abuse up to 214 victims over 54 years, some of them under 10 years old because - as CPS head Keir Starmer put it - of "shortcomings" in the police and prosecution services.

It's a word that hides a multitude of sins; failing to recognise a pattern of abuse; failing to take victims seriously; Savile abusing his celebrity status; police failing to treat the Savile case with urgency or follow up reports of his crimes, or telling victims they would not be believed.

Starmer said Friday's report by the NSPCC and the Met Police into the nature and scale of Savile's abuses should be seen as a "watershed moment" in the context of investigating sexual abuse.

jimmy savile

Watershed moment: But are victims of sexual abuse taken seriously in Britain today?


However a joint statement from the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Rape Crisis England and Wales pointed to statistics released on Thursday by the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Office for National Statistics on Thursday which estimated only 1.18% of sexual offences committed in Britain end up in conviction.

"We believe that this must be a turning point for how we deal with sexual violence," they said.

"The criminal justice system and other agencies must dramatically improve their response and we must change the cultures and attitudes which allow abusive behaviour to go unchecked," they said.

They add that the recent grooming scandal in Rochdale, where a victim was initially dismissed by the CPS for being a poor witness, shows "this is still a huge problem in our communities, homes and institutions and that too many agencies continue to fail women and girls who are abused, and to deal properly with abusive men."

For academic Dr Amy Russell, there are questions about why it took so long for Savile's victims to be believed.

"My word of caution would be that the Savile case does not represent the most common forms of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is most often committed by people known to the victim and often within their family.

"People who experience abuse from a family member fear not being believed by their own family as well as the police.

"Most cases of sexual abuse and violence still go unreported. As the Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales report released yesterday proved we should not be congratulating ourselves that the truth is out about the crimes Jimmy Savile committed.

SEE ALSO: Jimmy Savile Sex Abuse Victims 'Should Have Been Taken More Seriously By Police'

"We should be taking a critical look at our society and our policing and asking why so many cases of abuse still go unreported and why conviction rates for sexual violence are so low."

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has called for action, saying children or young women are "too often" not taken seriously.

"No one can pretend this is still a historic problem and we need to learn the lessons to change our systems right now," she said in a statement on Friday.

A total of 450 people, male and female, have come forward alleging sexual abuse against Savile since October, and within the recorded crimes, there are 34 rapes and 126 indecent acts, Friday's police and NSPCC report said.

Writer and campaigner Laura Bates, who runs the Everyday Sexism project, told The Huffington Post UK she hopes the Savile case will lead spark a societal change where we "start to listen and believe" victims of sexual assault.

"If we learn anything from this 'watershed' moment, I hope it will be to listen to the women, now, who are experiencing sexual harassment and whose voices are going unheard," she said.

"What we have seen in the Savile case is hundreds and hundreds of voices silenced for years because 'it was the norm', 'everybody just accepted it', or 'it was just the way things were'. What I really hope will happen, in the light of the recent statistics showing that 1 in 5 women are victims of sexual offences, is that we will start to listen and believe women who report," she added.

A snapshot of Savile's victims

:: 1960 - A 10-year-old boy saw Savile outside a hotel and asked for his autograph. They went into the hotel reception where he was seriously sexually assaulted.

:: 1965 - A 14-year-old girl met Savile in a nightclub. She later visited his home and was raped.

:: 1972 - A 12-year-old boy and two female friends attended a recording of Top of the Pops. During a break in filming Savile groped the boy's genitals and the breasts of his two friends.

:: 1973 - A 16-year-old female hospital patient was befriended by Savile. He led her to an office where he kissed her, touched her inappropriately and then subjected her to a sexual assault.

:: 1974 - Savile took a 14-year-old schoolgirl for a drive in his car and seriously sexually assaulted her.

:: 2009 - A 43-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by Savile when he put his hand up her skirt while talking to her on a train journey between Leeds and London.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Jimmy Savile in 1961 around the time he was working for Radio Luxembourg. He is at London Airport with Pan American stewardess Birgit Johansson with two gold discs; one is for American singer Elvis Presley for having sold one million copies of "It's Now or Never" in the UK, and the other is for Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker

  • Cilla Black and Jimmy Savile before a Variety Club Luncheon at the Savoy Hotel. Taken in 1964, the year Savile became the first presenter of Top of the Pops

  • Two women have come forward with allegations from the 1960s, one who was 14 and another who was a teenager when she claims Savile sexually abused her in Scarborough

  • Savile in 1969 with Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied (PHAB) member Erika Mentz from Germany and other PHAB members at a dance at Devonshire House

  • 1969 also saw Savile begin volunteering at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital for specialist spinal injuries. He would later be given a room there

  • Jimmy Savile presenting a cheque to children on behalf of the NSPCC in 1969

  • The 1970s saw Savile start volunteering at Leeds General Infirmary and...

  • ... Broadmoor secure high-security psychiatric hospital. Allegations by former patients have been made against Savile although ex-workers have disputed the idea that he could have been left alone with anyone whilst working there

  • The 70s also saw the start of Jim'll Fix It. Allegations from this period include Caroline Moore, a 13-year-old patient at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1971, who says Savile "rammed his tongue" down her throat and another allegation accuses Savile of molesting a brain-damaged teenage patient at Leeds General Infirmary in 1972

  • The 1980s saw the continuation of Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It as Savile became a much loved household name. Two allegations relating to this time include one from a then-15-year-old girl (not pictured) who made a complaint of abuse by Savile in Lancashire. Pictured is 12-year-old Rebecca Heap

  • Savile at the Stoke Mandeville hospital with injured children from Beirut in 1987

  • Savile was knighted in 1990 and continued his charity work throughout the decade

  • Savile was questioned in 2007 by police about allegations of sexual abuse but the Crown Prosecution service says there is not enough evidence to warrant a prosecution

  • A 2008 police report into abuse at the Haut de Garenne children's home in Jersey names Savile, although this is never made public

  • Savile re-united with his Jim'll Fix It chair in 2009. The previous year Sussex police received a complaint of sexual assault but went on to say the victim was "unwilling to co-operate in any investigation"

  • Jimmy Savile is found dead at the age of 84 in October 2011. He is buried in Scarborough

  • In December 2011 the BBC drop an investigation by Newsnight into the allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile. Three tribute programmes are aired instead

  • ITV airs a documentary, 'Exposure, the Other Side of Jimmy Savile', in which a number of women claim they were abused by Savile as youngsters, including Karin Ward (pictured)

  • Within days of the documentary, many more allegations surface. By the 9 October Peter Spindler of the Metropolitan Police tells the BBC: "It is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender"

  • 11 October 2012 and George Entwistle, Director General of the BBC, asks journalists why the Newsnight programme was dropped as police from Tayside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and North Yorkshire police say they are investigating allegations going back to 1959

  • 12 October and police reveal they have 340 potential lines of inquiry

  • 15 October sees a man come forward alleging that Savile abused him when he was a nine-year-old boyscout

  • Savile's family removed his headstone from his grave and broke it up in the wake of the furore

  • Jimmy Savile sexually abuses transgender man

    A transgender man comes forward alleging that Jimmy Savile 'stuck his hand up his nightdress' while he was a 17-year-old teenage girl at Broadmoor in the 1970's. More here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/15/jimmy-savile-timeline-abuse-allegations_n_1966426.html?1350304573#slide=1641388