Jimmy Savile Sex Abuse Report 'Must Be A Turning Point For How We Deal With Sexual Violence'

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.

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.

"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.