On the day that London mayor Boris Johnson called fortougher action on violence against women, he pulled the plug on funding forthree rape crisis centres.
In a policy U-turn that only the socially inept couldconceive, the three centres would have supplemented the one in Croydon, thesouth London district where rapist John Worboys was jailed for a series ofattacks.
Johnson had promised funding for the centres in his mayoralelection manifesto last year.
Instead, he launched a “steering group” for police, councilsand other public bodies to work together to prevent the “appalling immunity” that sex offenders enjoy. In other words, another committee.
What will be their conclusions, I wonder: a castigation ofthe “appalling immunity” allowed to sex offenders, perhaps? And, if they are really hard-hitting, they might add “something must be done”.
Johnson’s betrayal is part of a wider problem facing rapecrisis centres. A previous Outside Left highlighted the funding difficultiesfaced by groups in Barnsley and Guildford.
The good news is that the Barnsley helpline has receivedNational Lottery funding to secure its survival for the next four years.
The news from Guildford is less positive: its counsellingsessions in Woking, five miles away, were last month scrapped due to “economiccircumstances”.
More reason, then, to get along to Kenley Airfield, south ofCroydon, next month for a fundraising day at the Surrey Hills Gliding club toraise money for the Guildford project.
It is unlikely that the mayor of London will be invited.