Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who is in charge of Operation Hydrant, says suspects include TV and radio personalities, athletes and politicians
Sex abuse: Police are investigating complaints against hundreds of VIPs
More than 300 ‘VIPs’ are being probed by police over historical sex abuse allegations, the officer in charge of the investigations revealed.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, of Norfolk police, revealed that 302 people in the public eye – including TV and radio personalities, athletes and politicians – were on the radar of his Operation Hydrant team following complaints.
Hydrant was set up to coordinate probes into child sex abuse at state institutions – such as hospitals, children’s homes and schools – or carried out by those with “public prominence”.
It was launched last year in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and other high profile abuse cases.
Mr Bailey, the police national lead on child abuse, said 2,156 people had been identified as suspects, including the 302 VIPs. The last update in May saw 261 well-known names under suspicion.
Sick: Jimmy Savile
He believes historic child abuse allegations are, after fighting terrorism, the “biggest policing challenge of the 21st century”.
Mr Bailey revealed the prominent figures were made up of 147 are television and radio personalities, 17 sports stars, 39 from the music industry and 99 elected officials.
“But the data increases on a weekly basis,” he said. “We have alleged abuse in 753 institutions to date and 286 deceased offenders.”
The Hydrant commander said he is in the process of drawing up new guidelines for investigating officers on how to handle witnesses and alleged offenders.
The move comes after the public naming of alleged abusers – and the damage to their reputation that comes with it – but where cases have proved impossible to build.
But Mr Bailey said all witnesses had a right to go to police with the confidence they would be believed and then work to have their stories corroborated.
He told The Sunday Times: “If you are a victim of crime and you have the confidence and courage to report that crime, it doesn’t have to be sex abuse , it could be that you’ve been burgled, you would expect to be believed.
“That doesn’t mean there is then complete blind faith and we don’t look at the evidence and seek corroboration.
“This is not somebody coming in and someone saying, ‘Right, you’ve told us that, so that has categorically happened.’”