Could a scandal like the Jimmy Savile case happen again in modern Britain?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

The shocking truth of Jimmy Savile's trail of child abuse was revealed today as police published a report recording 34 rapes and 126 indecent assaults by the former DJ.

The earliest allegations against the presenter who died in 2011 surfaced as far back as 1955 when Savile worked in Manchester. The final report came in 2009, also in Manchester.

Allegations were made against Savile while he was still alive to a number of police forces, but they were not connected and did not lead to any prosecution. Police said that they hoped the Savile report would be a watershed moment for child abuse allegations. But has enough changed to ensure there can be no repeat?

Case for: We've moved on

Britain is a different – more equal, less patriarchal – society now to that of the 1970s. Partly because of women’s liberation, and partly because of the digital revolution and the power of modern media, most big institutions are more transparent and therefore less likely to cover up abuse. And because of tabloid campaigns against paedophilia, the public is much more informed and aware of it than ever before. This may have costs attached, too; but it certainly means the likes of Savile would be less likely to commit their heinous crimes.

Case against: Not enough

We are fixated by Savile now, but how will Britain look in five years time? Will the findings of these various investigations have been pooled to create a coherent, transparent and easily accessible justice system for victims of abuse? Or will we share in the sense of shame and degradation on the publication of today's report, then let slide the commitments needed to change society. Yes, we no longer live in the 70s, but the simple fact is that paedophiles will continue to exist, as will the desire of institutions to cover up their crimes.