Savile committed 50 criminal offences on 14 hospital sites, say police

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f261
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1BMJ

Thirteen hospitals and a hospice have been named in a police report as playing host to the television presenter Jimmy Savile’s abuse of children over more than 50 years.

Leeds General Infirmary and Stoke Mandeville Hospital were the main locations of Savile’s alleged offending, with a total of 38 crimes reported to have taken place at the two sites between 1965 and 1995.

So far 214 criminal offences have been formally recorded against Savile, including 126 indecent acts and 34 offences of rape or penetration. Of these alleged offences, 50 were reported as taking place on hospital and hospice premises.

The report, Giving Victims a Voice, says that 450 people have come forward to allege incidents against Savile between 1955 and 2009. Most of his victims (73%) were children (under 18 years old), and 82% were female.1 The peak of the offending that has been reported was from 1966 to 1976, when Savile was between 40 and 50 years old.

The report, compiled by the Metropolitan Police and the children’s charity the NSPCC, said that Savile’s role as a fundraiser and volunteer porter gave him a high level of access at Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville, and Broadmoor hospitals. It is the first report to come out of Operation Yewtree, the police investigation that started on 5 October 2012, the day after an ITV programme was broadcast featuring five women who recounted abuse by Savile in the 1970s.

Peter Spindler, head of specialist crime investigations at the Metropolitan Police, said that the report “paints a stark picture emphasising the tragic consequences of when vulnerability and power collide. Savile’s offending footprint was vast, predatory, and opportunistic.”

Peter Watt, director of child protection advice and awareness at the NSPCC and a coauthor of the report, said that the scale of Savile’s abuse “simply beggared belief.”

He added, “Since the Savile scandal broke we have seen a surge in contacts about child abuse, both past and present, with many victims speaking out for the first time. Almost 800 additional children have been protected from abuse because the publicity around this case prompted people to contact our helpline. We are optimistic that this signals a watershed moment for child protection in this country. We must seize the opportunity if we are to make a lasting change.”

Currently a total of 14 inquiries or reviews are under way into the abuse by Savile and others, including three by the Department of Health at Stoke Mandeville, Leeds General Infirmary, and Broadmoor Hospital.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which oversees care at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, set up the Speaking Out investigation last year. Anne Eden, chief executive of the hospital, said, “The investigation is serious and complex and is currently reviewing files and records from the last 40 years before it moves on to meeting and hearing from witnesses. We expect it to complete the investigatory part of the work by the summer and to complete the report by the end of 2013.”

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Leeds General Infirmary, said, “In early December the trust published the terms of reference for its internal investigation into matters relating to Jimmy Savile’s longstanding involvement with Leeds Teaching Hospitals as a volunteer and fundraiser.

“As part of this work our panel will look at approaches from people who have contacted the trust directly to share information on this extremely distressing subject. The panel will also examine in detail any information the police pass to us about incidents reported to them at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital.”

Its report is expected to be published towards the end of the year.

Hospitals where Jimmy Savile is said to have committed offences

  • Leeds General Infirmary: 16 offences 1965-95

  • Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire: 22 offences 1965-88

  • Broadmoor Hospital, Berkshire: one offence 1991

  • St James Teaching Hospital, Leeds (run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust): one offence 1962

  • High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, Leeds (closed 2003 and its services taken into Leeds community services): one offence 1989

  • Dewsbury Hospital, West Yorkshire (now part of Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust): one offence 1969

  • Wycombe General Hospital (now part of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust): one offence

  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London: one offence 1971

  • Ashworth Hospital NHS High Secure Unit, Merseyside: one offence 1971

  • Exeter Hospital (part of Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust): one offence 1970

  • Portsmouth Royal Hospital (now closed and facilities part of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust): one offence 1968

  • St Catherine’s Hospital, Birkenhead (part of Wirral Community NHS Trust): one offence 1964

  • Saxondale Mental Health Hospital, Nottinghamshire (closed 1988): one offence 1971

  • Wheatfield Hospice, Leeds (part of Sue Ryder): one offence 1977


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f261