savile
Jimmy Savile died in 2011 before being exposed as a paedophileGetty

Police have apologised to victims who were sexually abused by Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli, a former mayor of Scarborough, after a report ruled there had been several "missed opportunities" to prosecute them while they were alive.

North Yorkshire Police have expressed their "great regret" that they did not prosecute Savile, who died in 2011, and Jaconelli who died in 1999.

Police have said there was enough evidence to criminally charge Savile and Jaconelli after 35 people came forward with allegations of abuse.

Police said 32 of the allegations, which include rape and indecent assault, related to Jaconelli between 1958 and 1998, while five related to by Savile between 1979 and 1988. Two people claimed they were abused by both men.

Savile was a frequent visitor to Scarborough throughout his life and had a sea-view flat in the resort.

The force has now apologised after it was revealed these 35 allegations were never passed onto the Crown Prosecution Service.

The police statement came as part of Operation Hibiscus, which began on 14 February 2014. It was instigated following the broadcast of the regional TV news programme Inside Out, which prompted the 35 people to come forward with reports of historic sexual abuse by Jaconelli and Savile.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "The available information indicates that, historically, the police missed opportunities to look into allegations against these men whilst they were still alive.

"Today, North Yorkshire Police apologises to the victims who made the brave decision to come forward during the past 18 months."

He added: "It is important that the victims have been able to make their allegations heard, and that their cases have been comprehensively examined by the police, regardless of the passage of time.

"It is a matter of great regret that, from the outset of the investigation, there was no prospect of true justice being achieved as the suspects are deceased."

Kennedy blamed an "organisational failure" for not prosecuting Savile and Jaconelli as the report ruled there was no evidence of misconduct by the force's officers.

He said there was a number of lessons to be learned which have now been rectified for the future.

He added: "This included actions such as clearly defining search parameters when checking historical records and ensuring that the appropriate department conducts such searches. Furthermore all operational meetings must be recorded, ensuring a full audit trail of decision-making throughout the process for openness and transparency.

"Whilst there were failings to report some relevant information to the HMIC and IPCC, there is no evidence to suggest North Yorkshire Police failed in its responsibility to support Operation Yewtree, the national investigation concerning Savile."

Lawyers representing 169 victims of Savile said they were "routinely ignored" when they tried to bring forward claims of abuse, but will take "some comfort" from the apology.

Jessica Standley, of Slater and Gordon, said: "Savile's victims were routinely ignored when they reported the abuse and countless opportunities to investigate him were missed, not just by police but also in other organisations he was involved with.

Hopefully, we are learning the lessons of the past and no one will ever get away with the systematic reign of abuse Savile did."