Rape Crisis Centres

MQT on 2010-12-15
Session date: 
December 15, 2010
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What assurances can the Mayor give concerning future revenue funding for both the established and newly opened Rape Crisis centres, given that the voluntary service is in such dire straights?


Answer for Rape Crisis Centres

Answer for Rape Crisis Centres

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you, Jennette. It was great to see you there at the launch of the confirmation of the four rape crisis centres across London. Yes, certainly, I can give a commitment that, if I am lucky enough to be re-elected, we will continue to supply funding for rape crisis centres.

Jennette Arnold (Deputy Chair): Thank you for that. I want to bring you forward a little bit before your election because it seems to me not appropriate for these centres to be left on the edge waiting for you to be re-elected. If I can take you back to your manifesto pledge, it was about funding to a tune of £2.2 million over four years. When you look at the allocation that has come out now with the launch of the latest centres, we are talking here about funding over 16 months for these centres and that only accounts for £1.4 million. What I want from you is some commitment that in your next budget you will look to include that shortfall of £800,000 because the current climate within local government is not going to improve and I think it is a little bit weak, expecting the continuity of these services based on local government input.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I understand completely what you are saying, Jennette. Thank you for what you are doing to participate in this process. I would just say that it is only right that, where we can provide services more effectively and more efficiently with taxpayers' money, we should do that. I am pleased that we have been able to find £1.4 million to fund three new rape crisis centres, as I pledged, across London.

I accept the sincerity that you now bring to this cause. Since you cast aspersions on what we are doing, I would point out that, in the eight years or however long it was that you served as an Assembly Member before 2008, two rape crisis centres closed in London during that period. I do not think you, or indeed any other Labour Member, offered much by way of protest at that. I do not think that there was much cross-questioning of the previous incumbent about those particular failures. I take your conversion to this cause very, very gratefully.

Jennette Arnold (Deputy Chair): Mr Mayor, let me tell you - and I can bring you the details - I was one of the Members who sat in 2000 on the first pan-London strategic body to look at rape and domestic violence in this city. It was set up by the previous Mayor and was led by the women's office working to that Mayor. Let me tell you that I am not going to stand in line to you or anyone else about this issue. If you look at my --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): What do you mean, 'stand in line'?

Jennette Arnold (Deputy Chair): -- lifetime career of campaigning it has been about safety for women on the streets in this country --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I understand that.

Jennette Arnold (Deputy Chair): -- so, it is not new.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am sorry, you are trying to beat me up because we have delivered on a promise!

Jennette Arnold (Deputy Chair): Just take this idea that it is new. It is not new. What I want you to accept is that there is a shortfall in the funding from your original pledge. It is not acrimonious. I am getting you to accept that. Having established this framework for service, do you accept this shortfall and will you look to ensuring that this shortfall is met, given the current circumstances in local government? It is a straightforward answer. I do not need to take a history lesson from you.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): It is material to people's understanding of what is going on here. You are trying to get me to commit more money irrespective of what we are achieving. We are achieving a great deal with what we have committed.

I would point out to you and remind you Jennette, that, in spite of all the good work you may have done in 2000, there then followed a period in which two rape crisis centres closed, and it has been our job to rectify that. I am delighted that you are now supporting what we are doing.