LONDON — Police failures over five decades allowed Jimmy Savile, one of Britain’s best-known television personalities, to escape investigation for a lifetime of sex offenses dating back to the early 1960s, according to a report published Tuesday.
The review of police conduct revealed a catalog of poor procedures and missed opportunities and an unwillingness to pursue accusations against one of the country’s most famous celebrities, whose renown also inhibited many possible victims from coming forward.
‘‘One of the reasons why allegations were not made at the time or investigations were not conducted as they might have been centers on Savile’s status,’’ the report said.
‘‘He was a well-known national celebrity, praised for his substantial fund-raising efforts, and a household name to many.’’
Theresa May, the home secretary, said, ‘‘This report brings into sharp focus police failings that allowed Savile to act with impunity over five decades. While we can never right this wrong, we must learn the lessons to prevent the same from ever happening again.’’
The disclosures that Savile, who died in 2011 at the age of 84, was one of the country’s most prolific sex offenders have shocked Britons who for decades watched his popular BBC programs, ‘‘Top of the Pops,’’ a music chart countdown show, and ‘‘Jim’ll Fix It,’’ in which Savile promised to grant young viewers’ wishes.
Claims that he abused some of his victims on BBC premises, and journalistic errors in the broadcasters’ coverage of the accusations, plunged the BBC into crisis.
But while the aftershocks of Savile’s behavior are still being felt, the police were first alerted to allegations against him in the early 1960s in Cheshire, according to Tuesday’s report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, an independent body that assesses police forces and policing.
On that occasion, a male victim reported a rape accusation against Savile to a local police officer the day after it occurred but was told to ‘‘forget about it’’ and ‘‘move on,’’ according to the document, which added that no official report was made or investigation undertaken.
When another man reported to the police that his girlfriend had been assaulted at a recording of ‘‘Top of the Pops,’’ he was told that he ‘‘could be arrested for making such allegations,’’ the document said.
The report released Tuesday was commissioned by the home secretary in an effort to discover how much the police knew about Savile before accusations of his abuse surfaced in 2012.
During his lifetime, the police recorded five accusations of criminal conduct and two pieces of intelligence information, although the earliest of these records dated from 1964.
By contrast, since 2012 more than 600 people have come forward with information, of whom around 450 have made specific accusations against Savile.