UK police figures give alarming insight into rise in reported child sex abuse

Jimmy Savile: Inside look at sexual abuse
Jimmy Savile: Inside look at sexual abuse


    Jimmy Savile: Inside look at sexual abuse


Jimmy Savile: Inside look at sexual abuse 02:03

Story highlights

  • Operation Hydrant was set up to oversee a flood of child sex abuse claims triggered by high-profile cases
  • Police chiefs council: 261 of more than 1,400 suspects under investigation are "people of public prominence"
  • Allegations of abuse involve schools, children's homes, religious institutions and community groups

London (CNN)Politicians, celebrities and music makers are among more than 1,400 suspects investigated over alleged histories of child sex abuse, UK police said Wednesday, in a report that sheds a light on the alarming prevalence of the problem.

Britain has been shaken by repeated revelations of child sex abuse since an ITV documentary in October 2012 revealed that the late radio disc jockey and TV star Jimmy Savile, a larger-than-life character who was once one of the most beloved figures in British entertainment, was a serial sex abuser.
    That triggered a deluge of historic claims against Savile and others connected to him, as well as many unconnected past and recent cases.
    In response, the National Police Chiefs' Council set up Operation Hydrant last summer to oversee the investigation of the flood of allegations coming into police forces across the country.
    According to its news release Wednesday, projections indicate the police caseload for overall reports of child sexual abuse has increased by 71% in the past three years, as many more victims are encouraged to come forward with complaints.
    Recent cases of abuse have risen by 31%, while non-recent cases have risen by 165%, the National Police Chiefs' Council said.
    Altogether, Operation Hydrant encompasses 1,433 suspects, of whom 216 are deceased. Some 666 suspects are connected to institutions and 261 are classified as "people of public prominence," the council said.
    They include 135 people from the world of TV, film or radio; 76 politicians -- from a local level as well as national figures; 43 people from the music industry; and seven suspects from the sporting world.
    Police are also looking at 357 institutions in connection with the operation, including 154 schools and 75 children's homes, indicating the scale of the breach of trust involving vulnerable young people.
    Dozens of religious institutions, medical establishments, community groups and prisons, including those for young offenders, are also under scrutiny in connection with the operation.
    Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: "These figures are stark. They indicate the scale of child abuse police are dealing with.
    "Much public and media focus has been on horrors committed by well-known personalities, groups, gangs or in institutions, but the vast majority of victims are abused by family members or friends.
    "Police have done a huge amount to meet the challenge: we have responded to criticism, changed how we engage with victims and how we investigate abuse.
    "Many victims have now found confidence to report abuse, knowing we will treat them sensitively, respectfully, listen to them and take reports of their abuse seriously. I would encourage all victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report their abuse."
    Some high-profile child sex abuse cases have already gone to court.
    Former pop star Gary Glitter was sentenced in February to 16 years in prison for child sex abuse offenses he committed more than three decades ago. Last year, celebrity publicist Max Clifford was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for assaults on girls, while Australian entertainer Rolf Harris was jailed for five years for indecent assaults against four girls.