Boris lets rape victims down


by Rumbold
18th December, 2008 at 9:35 pm    

While campaigning for the mayoralty, Boris Johnson promised to spend £744,000 on new centres for rape victims. Now he has gone back on his word, cutting the money available to only £233,000. This really is a disgrace. It is one thing to adjust spending in line with the current economic climate, but quite another to reduce the amount available to 31% of what was originally promised. Still, as long as there is still enough ratepayers’ money to hire people from Policy Exchange, everything is okay.


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Filed in: London Politics,Sex equality






23 Comments below   |  

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  1. MaidMarian — on 18th December, 2008 at 9:54 pm  

    There is a quite interesting little aside here. Look at the link Rumbold provides then go to the Guardian article linked on the word, ‘manifesto.’

    This actually qualifies the Johnson promise slightly but importantly. ‘The money would come from a 20% cut in the mayor’s 70-strong media and marketing team.’

    I read into that that the savings that Johnson felt could be made are not there – at least in part.

    This is a lesson in why funding pledges made from faux savings on easy targets (media etc) need to be closely scrutinised. Essentially the pledge was that Johnson felt he could run with a smaller press office than Livingstone and that the difference would fund centres. On the face of it he badly misjudged how much ‘waste’ there was.

    A promise like this is not a commitment to a cause. Commitment is, ‘I will fund this and if it means that the London council tax precept has to go up then that’s what it means.’

    This raises two questions: why are these centres worth funding from savings but not, it would seem, tax? Secondly, if there an oversupply of media that requires a press office so big it is wasteful? If so, media scrutiny on such a scale surely is carrying too high a cost?

  2. Sunny — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:02 pm  

    OMG! Rumbold criticising Boris and PX in one post! *faints*

  3. persephone — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:32 pm  

    From what I remember Boris made a ‘saving’ from the marketing budget from which was funded advertising for raising awareness about rape ie it was preventative which was showing postive results when Ken was at the helm. The new approach, post Boris, was that instead the focus should be on more rape centres & not advertising. (It also makes a better photo opportunity – picture Boris standing in front of a tangible building saying he has opened a rape centre)

    The change in approach was a crying shame as preventing the problem was a longer term solution & decreased the level of attacks.

    OK raising awareness is always going to be a more costlier business than making available rape centres but was the right strategy. But no doubt Boris has no need of such advice as the people who would have advised him ie the press office are no longer there.

    In essence Boris let the rape victims down before the cut on spending for rape centres.

  4. MaidMarian — on 18th December, 2008 at 11:07 pm  

    persephone – Good comment.

    There is much more to this story than a simple, ‘we either have centres or not,’ view.

    Issues like what ‘marketing activity’ actually is and how cuts are balanced against needs of groups (not just rape victims) matter.

    The worrying undertone is that Johnson seems to have made an unfunded promise that has disintegrated when put in the real world. We can argue about how fair or not that real world is but it is a sloppy approach to funding policy that has badly let down a vulnerable group.

  5. Refresh — on 18th December, 2008 at 11:24 pm  

    Persephone – good comment.

    ‘(It also makes a better photo opportunity – picture Boris standing in front of a tangible building saying he has opened a rape centre)’

    No self-respecting rape victim support centre (rape centre could be so easily misconstrued) would allow their buildings to be part of any photo-op. Even Boris’ buffoonery, which so easily passes for Etonesque charm, could be that persuasive.

    I imagine the advertisements were simply ‘politically correct’.

    Good post Rumbold.

  6. Katy Newton — on 19th December, 2008 at 7:55 am  

    But wait… surely this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a political party complaining that the financial management of the previous incumbents left them unable to fulfil their manifesto pledges? Which party was that again? Oh, right, it’s the Labour Government, which has been running that argument since 1997!

    I have very mixed feelings about Boris Johnson, but this is one thing that Labour supporters really have no business criticising him for. It was under Ken, the self-styled champion of women’s rights, that the number of Rape Crisis centres in London was reduced to one. Labour authorities generally have systematically cut off funding for this incredibly important source of support for rape victims over the last few years and it has been an absolute disgrace. The fact is that funding to them is going to increase, and that’s down to Boris, not to St Ken. There are any number of things for which Boris can justifiably be criticised but increasing funding to Rape Crisis centres shouldn’t be one of them.

  7. Tom — on 19th December, 2008 at 9:40 am  

    Um, nice switch of emphasis there, Katy, almost Gilligoonian. It’s the going back on his word that we’re objecting to, along with the implied view of the Mayor that tax cuts are more important than finding alternative funding for rape crisis centres when his numbers didn’t add up (how much would it really have cost on the precept, eh?). That’s a cynical political decision that reflects badly on the Mayor, but at least we know where he stands.

    There’s the other point that his media operation is as big a bunch of spinners as anyone else, so it’s not surprising that the numbers didn’t add up.

  8. Sofia — on 19th December, 2008 at 9:45 am  

    ok..i know this is off on a tangent..but where do they get these figures from? 233,000? do they just pick a number ..any number…randomness?????

    As for his promises….why do we still think politicians actually do what they promise they’ll do???

  9. Katy Newton — on 19th December, 2008 at 10:04 am  

    @Tom: it’s called “putting it into context”, something which I appreciate you probably don’t like when it comes to Boris Johnson. I’m not a politician, I don’t support any political party and I am not a big fan of politicians generally. However, I have been appalled at the closure of Rape Crisis centres – down from over 80 in 1985 to just over 30 now, one of which is in London – ever since I first read about it, and in this particular case – you know, being a woman and everything – I happen to think that Boris still deserves points for doing something to reverse that particular trend.

  10. Katy Newton — on 19th December, 2008 at 10:06 am  

    “almost Gilligoonian”. Grow up, for crying out loud. I don’t read the Standard. I had to Google to find out who he is.

  11. Rumbold — on 19th December, 2008 at 10:32 am  

    MaidMarian:

    “I read into that that the savings that Johnson felt could be made are not there – at least in part.”

    In other words, he realised that he rather liked having dozens of spin doctors and marketing propagandists at his beck and call.

    “A promise like this is not a commitment to a cause.”

    I would say it is a committment to a cause. Boris did not say that if he couldn’t cut his spin team, then the new rape crisis centres would not be funded. He merely costed them against proposed cuts.

    “Why are these centres worth funding from savings but not, it would seem, tax? Secondly, if there an oversupply of media that requires a press office so big it is wasteful? If so, media scrutiny on such a scale surely is carrying too high a cost?”

    Good points.

    Heh Sunny.

    Thanks Refresh.

    Katy Newton:

    “But wait… surely this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a political party complaining that the financial management of the previous incumbents left them unable to fulfil their manifesto pledges? Which party was that again? Oh, right, it’s the Labour Government, which has been running that argument since 1997!”

    I’m not sure I see the link. Just because the Labour government have no morals and break their word daily, doesn’t mean that Boris has to.

    “There are any number of things for which Boris can justifiably be criticised but increasing funding to Rape Crisis centres shouldn’t be one of them.”

    The funding is still going to increase but at a much smaller rate than before. Surely that is worthy of criticism?

  12. Leon — on 19th December, 2008 at 10:52 am  

    This is a fucking outrage.

  13. MaidMarian — on 19th December, 2008 at 1:10 pm  

    Rumbold (11) –

    ‘In other words, he realised that he rather liked having dozens of spin doctors and marketing propagandists at his beck and call.’

    Either that or he realised that the media scrutiny of the mayor created more work than he thought. I would hazard a guess it is a bit of both. In any case the slightly worrying thing here is that the sheer volume of media scrutiny would appear to have been allowed to cost policy on crisis centres (and perhaps other things).

    I do disagree that Boris is showing commitment though. ‘He merely costed them against proposed cuts.’ That is the point – proposals. It would appear that proposals do not per se translate into commitment.

    Interesting thread though and a good article.

  14. marvin — on 19th December, 2008 at 1:19 pm  

    Excellent comments Katy.

    Ken’s disgraceful negligence towards the Rape Crisis centres was a fucking outrage, Leon. Boris is increasing funding.

    Hopefully, however he will see stick to his pledge somehow and raise more cash in other avenues for this incredibly important service. I’ll be seriously disappointed myself if he doesn’t.

    Calling it a ‘fucking outrage’ whilst vehemently supporting Ken in this matter really does smell of double standards to put it nicely.

    Tom, I’m sure you were just as outraged at all of Ken’s backtracking and his negligence of the rape crisis centres, I’m sure, being the principled man that you are.

  15. persephone — on 19th December, 2008 at 3:17 pm  

    Thanks Maidmarian & Refresh for your comments

    @ 5 ” I imagine the advertisements were simply ‘politically correct’”

    Lets not imagine. See the link for the current ad running at uk.youtube.com/watch?v=KfETrIe-MPE

    It features cabwise which was launched several years ago. Personally I did not know cabwise even existed until I saw an early advert/press release on it.

    Also worth noting:

    - by focusing more on prevention will lead to less rape victim centres being needed.

    - A commentator on the you tube advert estimates it costs £150,000 to take a single rape case to trial – so savings are also made to the tax payer

    - the conviction rate for rape stands at 5.3% so is not prevention better than cure?

    - the government’s focus in recent years was on developing a network of sexual assault referral centres(SARCs) where victims of sexual assault can receive medical care, counselling, & have the opportunity to assist police investigations. I believe SARCS were in addition to rape crisis centres. I am not sure what Boris intends to do about SARC’s or whether his funding proposals make any such distinction

    It has been reported that the main reason for the funding shortage is a dearth of local targets set by central government on sexual violence. Also, decision-makers & funders have not always been clear about the relationship between sexual violence and domestic violence. LA’s and crime reduction orgn’s have tended not to address sexual violence or fund services, even when lobbied by local organisations.

    ” No self-respecting rape victim support centre (rape centre could be so easily misconstrued) would allow their buildings to be part of any photo-op. Even Boris’ buffoonery, which so easily passes for Etonesque charm, could be that persuasive. ”

    You mean like this example? Minister visits Thurrock rape crisis centre: http://www.thurrock-community.org.uk/sericc/newsy.htm

    The other aspect of my point was that is is easier to show a picture of something tangible such as a building & people within it but more difficult (as vastly more expensive)to prove an increase in awareness

  16. Refresh — on 19th December, 2008 at 4:19 pm  

    ‘You mean like this example? Minister visits Thurrock rape crisis centre: ‘

    Phew! No building.

    Agree with the general thrust.

    By the way I have some serious issues regarding the whole funding system for the voluntary sector, and even thinking about it makes me unhappy. Really unhappy.

  17. persephone — on 19th December, 2008 at 4:28 pm  

    “Phew! No building.”

    If only I had the time … but as you agree with the direction of it.

    Phew! Am glad I denoted the exact naming of the different rape establishments this time around

  18. Refresh — on 19th December, 2008 at 4:36 pm  

    :)

    Our local one tries its best not to make its location widely known.

  19. persephone — on 19th December, 2008 at 10:35 pm  

    @ 18 it may vary according to regional centre (& their resources) for eg some branches have their own website with their address – eg Glasgow publicise their address as they operate a daily drop in time.

    More are becoming more high profile to gain funding & donations from jo public. There was also a searchable web-database so that victims can search for their nearest branch as there are so few centres.

  20. persephone — on 19th December, 2008 at 10:46 pm  

    @ 8 “ok..i know this is off on a tangent..but where do they get these figures from? 233,000? do they just pick a number ..any number…randomness?????”

    I would love to see a detailed breakdown of how this money is to be spent. But then it would not quite so easy to dissemble as they say the devil is in the detail … and I am not sure if Boris has got his head around all the operational detail …

  21. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 20th December, 2008 at 3:40 pm  

    I do have to admit I don’t have time to look deeper into this … but has anyone considered maybe there are things that go on in part of a bigger picture … and that politicians don’t just do things at whim ….. out of evilness …http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/08/ukcrime.gender

  22. persephone — on 22nd December, 2008 at 11:23 pm  

    @ 21 since this article in March, have not seen anything more – the outcome was to be aired this summer but not seen anything yet… lets hope that revision to nhs/police budgets do not mean this also falls by the wayside

  23. Lucy — on 5th January, 2009 at 10:45 am  

    You might be interested in this little gift from a rape crisis centre?

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=9TiCJV98cR4

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