More than 1,400 suspects, including politicians and celebrities, have been investigated by police probing historical child sex abuse allegations.
The figures were revealed by Operation Hydrant, set up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
It explores links between child sex abuse by “prominent public persons”.
Of the 1,433 suspects identified, 216 are now dead and 261 are classified as people of public prominence, with 135 coming from TV, film or radio.
Of the remainder:
- A further 76 suspects are politicians, 43 are from the music industry and seven come from the world of sport.
- A total of 666 claims relate to institutions, with 357 separate institutions identified.
- Of these, 154 are schools, 75 are children’s homes, and 40 are religious institutions.
- They also include 14 medical establishments, 11 community institutions, nine prisons, nine sports venues and 28 other institutions, including military groups and guest houses.
Another 17 institutions are classified as unknown.
The figures are taken from police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
They relate to reports of abuse, or investigations of abuse, which police forces were dealing with in the summer of 2014.
Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC’s lead on child protection, said the referrals were increasing “on an almost daily basis” with the numbers released being a “snapshot in time”.
“We are seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of reports that are coming forward.
“That has brought about a step change in the way the service has had to deal with it.”
He also said police were projected to receive about 116,000 reports of historic child sex abuse by the end of 2015 – an increase of 71% from 2012.
He added: “There is no doubt [Jimmy] Savile has had an effect on us. We are dealing with more and more allegations.”
Ex-DJ Jimmy Savile was revealed after his death to be one of the UK’s most prolific sexual predators.
And Mr Bailey said while there was no figure for the number of victims, it was likely to run into the thousands.
“These figures raise the question, is more abuse being perpetrated?” he said.
“I don’t have the evidence at this moment in time to prove this one way or another.”
Operation Hydrant does not conduct any investigations itself, but gathers information involving well-known figures and organisations such as hospitals, children’s homes and Parliament.
There are a number of ongoing inquiries into historical sex crimes, including Operation Pallial, which is looking at claims of abuse in care homes in north Wales and an inquiry into Knowl View school in Rochdale, where the late MP Sir Cyril Smith is said to have preyed on boys.
Operation Yewtree has already seen Rolf Harris and former public relations guru Max Clifford jailed for sex crimes.
Liz Dux, a lawyer with legal firm Slater and Gordon, which represents 800 child sexual abuse victims, told the BBC the Savile revelations meant people had felt more able to come forward and give evidence.
“The hope is the police have enough manpower to do [the investigation] justice, and to give it the importance it deserves.
“What we’ve seen is, not only in relation to celebrities, or well-known politicians, people have generally come forward and said ‘I was abused by a family member, or I was abused in these circumstances, and I now feel able to address it and I now want to see my offender brought to justice’.”
Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC’s programme to tackle sexual abuse, described the figures as “astonishing” and showed that sexual abuse “permeates all parts of society”.
He added: “We are seeing a seismic shift in people’s willingness and preparedness to come forward now and talk about things that have happened sometimes many, many years or decades ago.
“What we’re beginning to see is a much more realistic picture now of the scale of the problem, and we now need to be looking at ways in which that can most effectively be dealt with.”