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The purpose in publishing the Yewtree report went beyond providing a detailed analysis of Jimmy Savile's offending; it was also to explore how the police and other bodies can learn to be more effective in the resolution and prevention of serious sexual offending.
As the report made clear, central to the many questions posed both by Savile's victims and others are: why did it happen and why was it not noticed and stopped by the police, health, education or social services professionals, people at the BBC or other media, parents or carers, politicians or even 'society' in general.
On , the CPS secured convictions in Operation Span in Rochdale, the first case to start a serious debate about grooming and sexual exploitation of young and vulnerable victims.
Internal assurance mechanisms have also been improved; there are now specialist coordinators across the CPS not only for rape, but also for child sexual assault cases.
The results of the changes and improvements made by the police and prosecutors are encouraging.
I support and admire the hard work that has gone into improving the criminal justice response to sexual offending in recent years.
As Baroness Stern readily acknowledged in her report into how rape allegations are handled in England and Wales published in March 2011: "...
In the same month, the Home Secretary asked the embryonic National Crime Agency to look again at allegations of sexual abuse in care homes in North Wales, following revelations on , which were themselves to have serious consequences for the BBC.
In relation to the Jimmy Savile allegations, I asked my Principal Legal Advisor, Alison Levitt QC to examine the decisions taken by the CPS in 2009 not to prosecute three allegations made to Surrey Police and one allegation made to Sussex Police in 20. Although she concluded that there was nothing to suggest that the decisions not to prosecute were consciously influenced by any improper motive on the part either of the police of prosecutors, Ms Levitt concluded that, despite the fact that, looked at objectively, there was nothing to suggest that the complainants had colluded in their accounts, nor that they were in any way less reliable than complainants in other cases, the police and prosecutors treated them and the accounts they gave with a degree of caution which was neither justified or required. Surrey Police decided not to tell each complainant that other complaints had been made; Sussex Police told the complainant that corroboration would be needed; for his part, the CPS prosecutor, when told by the police that the complainants did not support a prosecution, did not probe this or seek to 'build' a prosecution.
The details of the Rochdale grooming case are now in the public domain and there are other similar cases around the country. Many of the victims are vulnerable precisely because they are not only young, but they often display some or all of the following characteristics: they are unable easily to trust those in authority and still less able to report intimate details; they use alcohol; they return to the perpetrator of the offences against them; and, not infrequently, they self-harm.
If the criteria for testing their credibility match the characteristics that make them vulnerable in the first place, we have a fundamental flaw in the approach to credibility.
To take the obvious example, if the credibility and reliability of the victims of exploitation in Rochdale were tested solely by asking questions such as whether they reported their abuse swiftly, whether they returned to the perpetrators, whether they had ever told untruths in the past, and whether their accounts were unaffected by drink or drugs, the answers would almost always result in a decision not to prosecute.
Soon after the CPS review of the Rochdale grooming case, allegations of serial sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile began to circulate. In November last year the CPS was asked for a view on whether a decision taken in 1970 by the then DPP, not to bring criminal proceedings against the late Cyril Smith MP withstood scrutiny; we found that it did not.
But the case only succeeded because an earlier decision not to proceed, taken in 2009, was re-examined and reversed.