LONDON – An independent report into how British police handled allegations against disgraced late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile said Tuesday that police held records that connected him to sexual abuse as early as 1964, but failed to carry out an investigation.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, an independent police oversight group, found that police recorded five allegations and two pieces of intelligence against Savile during his lifetime.
Once one of Britain's most popular entertainers, Savile's reputation took a dive after his death in 2011 at age 84, when hundreds of witnesses and victims came forward accusing him of sexual abuse. Police have since described the television and radio presenter as a serial sexual predator who used his fame to target young victims across Britain.
Tuesday's report suggested that Savile could have been stopped decades ago.
The earliest found intelligence record held by the pedophile unit at Scotland Yard dates from about 1964, but was only uncovered last year, the report said. The record, which just contained brief notes, referred to Savile as a "well known disc jockey" and to sexual abuse involving students at a children's home. No investigation was carried out as a result of that intelligence, the report said.
"Its existence suggests that, by 1964, Savile was known to (police) officers investigating sexual offences against children," the report said. "On the basis of what we know now, there appears to have been, at the very least, an opportunity to investigate his behavior then."
The second intelligence record was an anonymous letter sent to police in 1998. It urged Scotland Yard to stop Savile's activities, but police marked it as "sensitive" because of his celebrity status. It was never investigated and not shared with other police forces.
The Constabulary report also said that five victims filed to various police forces complaints alleging that Savile had indecently assaulted them from 2003 to 2008, but that authorities' failure to "join the dots" meant a chance to prosecute was missed.
Tuesday's report came after a police investigation concluded in January that the presenter's abuse history spanned half a century, from 1955 to 2009, including 214 offenses mostly against victims under 18.