When Boris vowed to keep the Croydon rape crisis centre open, and fund three others, in his crime manifesto, we made hooraying noises. He said he'd find £744,000 a year by reducing the number of press officers in the Mayor's office by 20%. "Quite simply, we believe that it is more important to fund Rape Crisis Centres than press officers", he pledged. But then it emerged there would only be £233,000 a year, and we got a bit concerned.
Today comes a press release, trumpeting £1.4m in efficiency savings to be put towards rape crisis provision in London. That's over three years though, so... (gets out calculator) that's £466,666 a year. Oh. It's more than we were going to get but still a long way short of what was promised, unless the Mayor can persuade the Met, councils and health authorities to stump up the rest of the cash.
It'd be easy to point and make snarky comments like "oho, looks like Boris found a use for those press officers after all" (a bit like that), but as we demand transparency in Westminster, we'd appreciate a bit of clarity over why the manifesto figures didn't work out rather than glossing over the shortfall. And apart from a commitment to funding Croydon, there's no word on exactly what the rest of the cash will do - the GLA are "currently identifying the gaps". It'll be interesting to see what they come up with, because Croydon says it needs £250,000 a year just to keep afloat, while the manifesto estimated it would need just £186,000. On current funding, and using the centre's own figures, there isn't enough to open a second centre.
While we should remember this is still a huge improvement on where we were a few years ago, the support for rape victims in the capital - in terms of policing, convictions and victim support - is appalling. Rape crisis centres provide the kind of help simply not available on the NHS and "it is unacceptable for there to be just one centre, in Zone 5, when the number of sexual offences in the capital is higher today than in 2000". But don't take our word for it: that came straight from Boris, before he got elected.