POLICE investigating fresh allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile and his friend – former Scarborough mayor Peter Jaconelli – have expressed regret at 'missed opportunities' to investigate them when they were alive.

North Yorkshire Police today apologises to the 35 people who have come forward over the last 18 months with allegations they had been abused by ice-cream parlour-owner Jaconelli and Savile and added that – had they still been alive – it's likely they could have pressed for them to be charged.

The alleged victims say they were abused by the men at various points over a 40 year period. Of those victims to come forward, 32 reported offences relating to Jaconelli and five to Savile, with some saying they were abused by both men. The offences against young people took place between 1958 and 1998 in the Scarborough and Whitby area.

Jaconelli served as a North Yorkshire County Councillor and Scarborough Borough Council mayor and died in 1999.

The force launched Operation Hisbiscus on February 14 this year to look into the allegations.

The investigation has now been concluded, but Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy said the door was 'very much open' if any more victims wished to come forward.

Mr Kennedy said even experienced officers had been shocked at the nature of Savile and Jaconelli’s alleged abuse.

The reported offences linked to Jaconelli ranged from indecent assault, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, gross indecency and rape. The reported offences against Savile ranged from sexual assault to rape.

Police say the evidence they have gathered would have been enough to arrest and interview both men under caution and pass files to the Crown Prosecution Service for prosecution.

The victims have now been directed to specialist victim support agencies.

Mr Kennedy said: “It’s been a horrible investigation because of the nature of the crime being described and the range of offending by Jaconelli and Savile has been astounding – even to experienced officers.

"And it’s been perhaps more horrific for myself and other officers and detectives to see and recognise missed opportunities in the past; we’re devastated that’s the case.”

During the course of the investigation the force voluntarily referred itself on two occasions to the police watchdog, the IPCC, which is investigating the first referral and the other has been referred back to the force to investigate further.

Once that investigation has concluded, the force will share its findings.