As well as being appalled, my first feelings on the Jimmy Savile scandal remain the same. I feel no great surprise that 1) such an obviously troubled man had committed these crimes (you just have to watch the Louis Theroux interview to have had grave concerns about his mental state), and 2) that huge organisations like the BBC are capable of such institutionalised incompetence. This should not be news to me; it seems a regular occurrence these days that big institutions are being found to have inherent deficiencies at their core. Something about the huge machinations of these behemoths creates an environment where it is easy to turn a blind eye to the uncomfortable truth. Recent examples exposed are the Rochdale sex abuse scandal, the Haut de la Garenne care home in Jersey and Winterbourne View near Bristol. This is sadly naming just a few examples of the many times we have seen the failings of organisations put in a position of trust exposed.
Ultimately they hold a great power over vulnerable people and have repeatedly shown themselves to have a massive problem in sharing information and acting upon glaring evidence of wrongdoing. Let us not kid ourselves that this is a ‘cancer of the 70’s’ that has now been cured in our ‘right-on’ liberal society. We have seen in recent years with Charles De Menezes and Ian Tomlinson that the vast machines of agencies such as the police will always be capable of closing ranks and working vehemently against the individual despite of the countless inquiries and reports, and the reports into the inquiries carried out by countless government and independent committees. In the end I expect the outcome to be a whitewash and we will continue to let down the most vulnerable in our society.
Furthermore, what I find really staggering is the countless articles and news reports that have featured someone saying they saw Savile committing crimes but did nothing to stop him. How can someone witness a relative, friend or vulnerable person being abused and not instantly challenge the culprit and call the police on the spot. Maybe as well as looking at our institutions and how they view allegations of sexual violence, we must always look at ourselves as individuals as it seems there were many people who knew all about the abuse and kept very quiet. We must also always look at our systems and never be afraid to question something if it appears wrong and we must stand up for the most vulnerable in our society.