As Mayor, keeping Londoners safe will be among my highest priorities

Keeping Londoners safe should be a top priority for any Mayor, says Sadiq Khan.

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Keeping Londoners safe is a top priority for any Mayor.

After all, while London is a fantastic place to live, too many people’s lives are still ruined because of crime.

That might be anti-social behaviour on a local estate, the violation of having your home burgled, or violent attacks and sexual assaults.

The impact of being a victim of crime is horrific – it shatters people’s confidence, strips people of their dignity and blights communities.

What’s more, there’s an inequality to this. You are more likely to be a victim of crime if you’re a woman, a young person or from the BAME communities.

Yet while it’s true that over the last 20 years, crime has fallen sharply, this isn’t the case for everybody and every community.

Crime continues to undermine the quality of life in some parts of London.

And, more worryingly, official data is showing signs that crime is on the rise for the first time since the early 1990s.

Piling more misery on communities, meaning more innocent people unnecessarily becoming victims.

When it comes to dealing with crime, victims are too often treated as an afterthought.

Or worse still, they’re ignored altogether.

In some cases, victims have themselves been treated as criminals. 

And we’ve all seen the headlines - from Rotherham to Rochdale, victims weren’t taken seriously, or the crimes against them weren’t reported to the relevant authorities.

This is unacceptable and has to change.

Why on earth would you come forward and report a crime if you thought you’d be batted off or treated like you were a perpetrator?

Instead, we need the public to report more crimes and give more evidence as witnesses.

Only then can those guilty be caught, charged, convicted, sentenced and punished.

If people don’t come forward, the guilty are free to roam the streets.

Communities are left at risk.

And justice isn’t done.

I’m determined we will break out of this cycle.

That’s why, if I become Mayor, I’ll implement a whole new approach to the way our police treat victims and witnesses.

To deliver on this, I have a five-point charter for victims in London.

First, no longer will I tolerate the police ignoring people who’ve plucked up the courage to report crimes.

It’s a scandal that one in five crimes reported to the police aren’t recorded.

If a crime isn’t recorded how can we be sure it’s being taken seriously, let alone being investigated and the perpetrator caught?

Some victims go away thinking there’ll be an investigation when there’s none.

So I’ll make sure that victims have a right to have their crime recorded.

Second, I’ll make it easier for people to report their crimes.

For some people, the prospect of going to a police station is simply too intimidating.

The lack of privacy at the front desk of a police station isn’t exactly conducive to reporting crimes of a sensitive and personal nature.

I’m determined to remove obstacles like this.

So I’ll work with the voluntary sector, refuges and charities to map out across the city a network of safe alternative places victims can report crimes.

Third, decisions not to charge someone should be open to appeal by the victim.

Already, a voluntary scheme run by the Crown Prosecution Service is in place. This gives victims the chance to appeal a decision not to prosecute someone.

Indications are this is working well, and I’ll look to extend this for more serious offences to police decisions on charging.

This will provide an added check and balance so that victims can have more confidence in the system’s ability to bring people to justice.

Fourth, I know from talking to victims that there’s nothing more infuriating than being kept in the dark about what’s happening with a police investigation.

It’s time we made the most of technology to keep victims up to date.

That’s why, as Mayor, I’ll adapt the TrackMyCrime system used by Avon and Somerset Police to provide an online portal for victims to access the latest information on their case.

It’s not rocket science - by entering the crime number into the webpage, victims will get to know the most up to date status of any investigation or court case.

Fifth, I take the importance of victims so seriously I’m not afraid to be held to account as Mayor.

That’s why I’ll appoint an independent Victims’ Commissioner for London.

The Commissioner will have the job of ensuring services are up to standard, and that any failings are brought to light and acted on.

Their job will be to hold me to my word.

These five pledges amount to a serious package designed to transform the way we treat victims across London.

None of this detracts from the overriding objective, which is to do all we can to stop people becoming victims in the first place.

So that means being tough on the causes of crime through tackling inequality across the capital by investing in housing, skills, education and transport.

But it also means being tough on those who still commit offences by having sufficient police to catch criminals.

And it also means having a police force that is representative of the city and its diverse communities so that all Londoners can have confidence in it to keep them safe.

All of this adds up to keeping London safe, and treating victims of crime with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Sadiq Khan is MP for Tooting, shadow justice secretary and shadow minister for London.