Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

Plenary on 2018-11-01
Session date: 
November 1, 2018
Question By: 
Peter Whittle
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


In February we learned that London had witnessed a 20% increase in rapes between January 2017 and January 2018. The Evening Standard reported the following on 23rd February 2018: 


Asked at a London Assembly hearing if he had any idea what was behind the rise, Sir Craig said: “No, is the honest answer. It’s not as simple as saying this is increased confidence. Of course, that plays a part but there is something going on with sexual offending in London that we don’t fully understand, the causes of it. We see the end of it, [but] we don’t understand the causes.”

Ms Linden agreed that the rise could not only be explained by a greater  willingness to report crimes.


Has the MOPAC report which has just been released helped you understand the causes?


Answer for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

Answer for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is simply unacceptable that any woman or girl in our city should be the victim of these devastating crimes.  London is one of the safest cities in the world for women, but on average 11 women and girls are raped or sexually assaulted every week.  This is shocking.  I want every woman and girl to not only be safe but feel safe in our great city.


The increase in reported rapes in London forms part of a similar picture across the UK with considerable discussion and debate on the possible underlying causes for the rise.  These discussions are not yet fully resolved and the NPCC Rape Working Group has requested analytical support from the NCA to examine the issue.  Whilst the report created by the MOPAC Evidence and Insight Team has made some headway to understanding the overall picture, there is still further research and analysis to be carried out.


The most reliable data source on the prevalence of rape is the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which indicates that there has been no increase in the volume of rape offences taking place.  This data corroborates anecdotal evidence from partner agencies and outreach workers, who have not reported any perceived increase in rape offences.  If the number of rape offences has not risen, then the increased reporting could be the result of either a greater proportion of rape victims reporting offences to the MPS or improvements in the MPS’ recording processes.


This is something we must get a better understanding of and that is why as part of our Police and Crime Plan we have commissioned specific work to look beneath the reported crime statistics on sexual violence and abuse so that we can better understand what is happening.  The work is still underway and is due to be completed by the end of the year.  The findings will then be shared publicly.


I will be clear today: my main focus around this issue is and always will be working to prevent violence against women and girls and ensuring that all victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse have access to a fair system that delivers both the justice and the support they need.


David Kurten AM (on behalf of Peter Whittle AM):  Thank you for your answer, Mr Mayor.  You have said there that the Crime Survey of England and Wales sees that there is no increase in rapes, but there has been a huge increase in reports of rapes to the MPS.  That does not correlate with the overall picture with violent crime.  We see violent crime has gone down from 2000 to 2014/15 and then up again with a big bounce in the last four years, but the reports of rape to the MPS have been rising for much longer than the increase in violent crime since 2014.  That has been rising since 2008, so before your tenure.  In 2008/09 there just over 2,000 reports of rape to the MPS.  That is now up to approximately 7,500 in the 12 months [leading up] to January this year, 2018.


The two things you have said there do not seem to tie up with each other, and so which do you think is more likely: the number of rapes is not increasing or is increasing in London?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  With respect, you have already asked your first question, which I tried to answer.  The short answer is that the further piece of work being undertaken is to try to understand the explanation better.  One explanation which would I suspect be better received is that the reason for the increase in reporting is because people have more confidence.  It is easier to report and the police deal with it in a more sensitive way and so it is encouraging people to report it more.  That could be an explanation.  I simply cannot say which of the explanations that have been offered are the right ones.  Perhaps the way it is recorded is changed.  I gave two possible explanations.  We will know towards the end of this year what the research says.  It may be unclear from the research, by the way.


David Kurten AM (on behalf of Peter Whittle AM):  I do appreciate that you have to wait for the research to come out so that we have a better understanding, but this was brought up in a previous meeting and your Deputy [Mayor for Policing and Crime], I have here, Sophie Linden, agreed with Assembly Member Whittle that the rise could not only be explained by a greater willingness to report crimes.  That would indicate that there is an increase in reporting but there is also an underlying increase in this horrible crime as well.  What are your thoughts on that?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  There could be.  That is one of the reasons why it is too simplistic to say it is because of better confidence and that is why victims who were victims before are now reporting it.  That could be an explanation.  That would be a more acceptable and palatable explanation than the alternative, which is that these sorts of crimes are going up.  It could be, as I have said, the way the MPS records this has led to the increase in the figures.  Of course, one of the things we will look at is also what is happening around the country.  Are other forces having the same experience?


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  OK.  Thank you very much.  Time is up.  We now come to the last tabled question, which is on reducing London’s road crime, and it is from Assembly Member Russell.