37 "Prominent" Figures In "Sex Abuse" Inquiry

20 May 2015, 19:23 | Updated: 20 May 2015, 19:29

Thirty-seven people in the public eye are among 110 suspects identified by Scottish police investigating alleged historic child sex abuse.

Police Scotland has revealed it currently has 58 separate inquiries into the alleged crimes, which are being investigated under the umbrella of Operation Hydrant.

The cases stretch back seven decades, as far as 1947, while the most recent dates from 2013.

Operation Hydrant is co-ordinating multiple historical child sexual abuse investigations around the UK. It was set up by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) to explore links between child sex abuse committed by "prominent public persons".

The Scottish figures were revealed as it emerged that more than 1,400 people around the UK, including politicians, TV and music stars or people within institutions, have been investigated by detectives for alleged historic child sex abuse.

North of the border, police working on Operation Hydrant cases said they have identified 110 suspects, of which 80 are named. Twenty-six of the named suspects are now dead.

Some 37 suspects are classified as "persons of public prominence", Police Scotland said.

Of these, four come from the world of TV, film or radio and 33 are listed as having a "significant public profile" nationally or locally.

A number of these individuals have also been named as being responsible for abuse within institutions.

Overall, 99 people are suspected of abuse within 45 institutions identified in Scotland, officers said.

The majority are educational institutions or social care establishments, but seven faith-based institutions, four leisure-based clubs and one health premises have also been identified.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, the spokesman on major crime and public protection for Police Scotland, said: "We are fully supportive and a key part of Operation Hydrant. Already co-operation between police forces across the UK has had real benefits for investigations here in Scotland.

"We have a number of live investigations which are ongoing and which it would be wrong to comment on at this stage. But we are liaising with police forces elsewhere in the UK on a number of inquiries at present.

"Police Scotland has one very clear focus: to keep people safe. Children are particularly vulnerable to harm and therefore one of our highest priorities has to be protecting them.

"Prevention, intervention and investigation of child abuse in all its many forms have been our priorities, working in partnership with other agencies.

"Child abuse investigations have become increasingly complex, requiring highly-trained investigators with a range of specialist skills. Against that backdrop and a growing number of such investigations, we recently launched the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit (NCAIU).

"The setting up of the NCAIU ensures all local policing divisions and all communities have access to specialist support. One of the roles of the NCAIU is to lead or support on large scale, complex, protracted or cross-border investigations or inquiries involving high-profile individuals or those who work in positions of trust.

"The challenges facing the police service to offer routes to justice for survivors of historic abuse while continuing to safeguard and protect children who are at risk of harm today, are massive. Police Scotland will remain committed to treating all victims of sexual abuse, regardless of the passage of time, with sensitivity and respect."

Across the UK, the NPCC said they have seen a surge in the number of reports of abuse following the Jimmy Savile scandal three years ago.

Laying bare the sheer scale of the alleged abuse, police revealed they estimate they will receive around 116,000 reports of abuse by the end of this year - a 71% increase from 2012.

According to the UK figures, 1,433 suspects have been identified and these include 261 "people of public prominence".

Of these, 76 are politicians, 135 come from the world of TV, film or radio, 43 are from the music industry and seven are from sport.