Friday, 12 October 2012

Sexual Predators

Sir Jimmy Savile's reputation may now lie in tatters - but no one should kid themselves that this situation would never have come about - unless the this once very powerful man was stone cold dead in his grave.

Which says a lot about our criminal justice system and its ability to tackle serious sex crimes - which are perpetrated mainly on women, of course, and young children.

The fact of the matter is that if Jimmy Savile had still been alive and kicking today - the police would never have dared to publicly call him a sexual predator.

And quite possibly the TV programme which broke the story and opened the floodgates - would never have seen the light of day due to the high risk of the programme makers being sued and stopped in their tracks - even before the programme went live on air.

As things stand the criminal law places great emphasis on independent, third party corroboration - which works in favour of serial sex attackers who for obvious reasons strike when no one else is around.

DNA and other forensic evidence can be very powerful and persuasive of course - but can also be of limited use when the attacker is not a stranger - and is known to his victims.

The real reason that Jimmy Savile has been unmasked is that enough of his victims came forward to corroborate each other's stories - dispensing with the need for third party witnesses or other forms of evidence.

The victims had support in finally speaking out - from people such as Esther Rantzen who deserves a lot of credit for standing by and encouraging the women involved to come forward.

The irony is that it was the publicity that did for Jimmy Savile in the end - but this kind of publicity was unlikely to happen while he was still alive.

One big question is how did he get away with it for so long because there must have been people around Savile - who could and should have intervened long before now. 

The other big issue for me is how the criminal justice system deals with such cases - because it has a poor track record, generally speaking, of dealing effectively with sex crimes.