Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Yewtree officers 'got some things wrong' in wake of Savile, says former chief

The former head of Operation Yewtree has admitted police "got some things wrong" during its investigation into child sexual abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Peter Spindler, a retired Metropolitan Police commander, said some detectives who worked with the probe "didn't have the skills and knowledge" needed and the inquiry was not set up quickly enough.

The former head of Operation Yewtree has admitted police "got some things wrong" during the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Credit: Press Association

Mr Spindler was speaking at the NSPCC's headquarters in London during a debate on whether non-recent sexual abuse investigations had descended into "media witch-hunts".

Yewtree is now a global brand. It's embedded itself in the national psyche. It has empowered victims to come forward in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously.

There have been many challenges along the way. We have learnt a lot in this type of investigation. We have got some things wrong.

One of the things we didn't get right was we completely underestimated what was going to happen.

We didn't have sufficient resources in place. We didn't have the knowledge and the skills amongst our more general detectives.

We have been investigating non-recent abuse for years ... this was something different. We needed to create a major inquiry team. We didn't get it set it up early enough.

We completely underestimated the swing in the public mood at the time and the coverage this was going to get. I have no doubt we got the coverage because it involved celebrities and it involved the BBC.

– Peter Spindler

Mr Spindler said the media had a "ferocious appetite" but insisted the Metropolitan Police did not release the names of suspects before they were charged.

He said 30,000 victims who had yet to report abuse were expected to come forward to the Goddard inquiry, the independent investigation into child sexual abuse.

Peter Spindler in 2012 Credit: Press Association

Operation Hydrant, set up by the National Police Chiefs' Council to investigate child sexual abuse allegations, had the names of more than 2,000 suspects and 670 institutions where abuse was said to have happened, he said.

"These people can't all be making it up, they haven't all got it wrong," Mr Spindler said.

Around 70 complaints were being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission in which victims said they were not taken seriously or crimes were covered up, he added.

Operation Yewtree was launched in October 2012 to investigate alleged abuse by Savile and others.