The way prosecutors and police investigate sexual abuse in children is set to be changed after the Jimmy Savile scandal highlighted a flawed system. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer has told the BBC that there has been an ‘overcautious’ approach when it comes to the victims.
He believes that the focus has been too much on whether or not the victim was being truthful, with not enough attention being paid to the suspect.
New guidelines will be created for prosecutors and police, with a panel looking into previous cases where suspects were not charged. Starmer is keen to use the Savile case as a watershed for the criminal justice system.
When the police looked into allegations against the late TV presenter Jimmy Savile, it was revealed that the presenter had carried out over 200 sexual offences over a 54-year period.
Allegations against the presenter were reported when he was alive, but the police took no action against him at the time.
The way the justice system works now was swayed by a number of wrongful convictions discovered when looking into historic child abuse 10 years ago, prompting a more sceptical approach.
There is a sense now that this approach needs to be re-addressed. In the future investigators will be expected to focus on the suspect as well as the alleged victim, looking into any links there may be with other cases.
When the new guidelines have been announced, training will be offered to both prosecutors and the police on how to deal with child exploitation cases.
Any form of abuse can affect you for many years after the event takes place. If you are struggling to deal with abuse, speaking to a qualified counsellor could help. For more information and to find a counsellor near you, please see our Abuse page.
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