Khan pledges to bring in free legal advice service for sex assault victims

Pledge forms part of ten-point plan by Labour incumbent to tackle violence against women and girls, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)
Sadiq Khan (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)

Sadiq Khan has promised to fund a free, independent legal advice pilot service for survivors of rape and serious sexual offences, if re-elected in May.

The latest pledge from the Labour mayor, who is seeking an historic third term at City Hall, forms part of a ten-point plan unveiled on Wednesday (17th) to tackle violence against women and girls.

Other parts of the plan include a promise to expand his work tackling misogyny in London’s schools and to continue creating safe accommodation for domestic abuse survivors.

Khan’s Tory rival, Susan Hall, has said the mayor “just isn’t listening” to women about their experiences of harassment and assault, and that she “will get a grip of crime and make our city safer”. She has promised to appoint a women’s commissioner who will focus on improving women’s safety.

Khan said: “Violence against women and girls in our country, including London, is still too common. It remains an epidemic and something as a society we still have to do far more to tackle…

“Key parts of my plan include directly supporting victims and survivors with free new legal advice and safe accommodation. Too often our complex legal system leaves women feeling alone and unsupported – this must come to an end.

“And in directly funding new outreach and training in schools, we’ll be addressing attitudes towards violence and misogyny from an early stage.”

The mayor’s campaign team said he has “already overseen a record £163.8m investment to tackle all violence against women and girls” in London, while the government “has imposed £1bn cuts on the Met, fully supported by his Conservative opponent, with a devastating impact on the services that keep women safe”.

Khan has also promised to “work with the Met to drive up detection and conviction rates on domestic abuse, rape and stalking”. Since the mayor took office, the number of recorded sexual offences in London resulting in police sanctions has halved.

A spokesperson for Hall’s campaign said: “Susan won’t take lectures on women’s safety from Sadiq Khan. Women feel ignored and unsafe in Sadiq Khan’s London, which is why Susan will appoint a women’s commissioner, put CCTV on all new Underground trains, give each borough specialist violence against women and girls officers, and recruit 1,500 new police officers to make our city safer for everyone.”

Hall’s plan to boost women’s safety was recently endorsed by the Instagram influencer and campaigner Georgie Clarke. Responding to Khan’s latest announcement, she said that launching the proposals “16 days before the election, leaves women and girls as an afterthought”. She added that the mayor “has already had eight years to put into action” such plans. 

On Tuesday, Hall revealed plans to extend the night tube to include the Hammersmith and City line, with further lines to follow “when feasible”. She said the move will help Londoners get home safely at night.

The London mayoral election is on Thursday, 2nd May, along with elections to the London Assembly.

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