Lib Dems pledge to clamp down on London sexual offences as party launches mayoral manifesto

Lib Dem mayoral candidate Rob Blackie (Andrew King Photography)
Lib Dem mayoral candidate Rob Blackie (Andrew King Photography)

The Liberal Democrats are the latest party to launch their London mayoral election manifesto, with a promise to clamp down on sexual offences in the capital.

Candidate Rob Blackie says that a new Sexual Offences Unit within the Met Police will double the number of offenders caught in London, following Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s “shameful” record on the issue.

Joined on Tuesday morning by Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey in Lambeth, Mr Blackie will say: “Under Sadiq Khan’s leadership the police are catching sexual offenders half as often as when he became Mayor.

“This record is shameful. Victims are denied justice. Survivors denied closure. And it’s the criminals who go on to offend again and again.”

According to Baroness Casey’s report into the Met last year, while 18 per cent of sexual offences resulted in sanctions in 2015/16 - Boris Johnson’s last year as mayor - the clear-up rate had reduced to nine per cent by 2022/23.

Party leader Sir Ed will say: “Rob’s determination to fix the Met Police and get on top of crime in the capital is essential…

“The Liberal Democrats are on the up in London, while the Conservatives are in freefall. I know Rob is on course for a fantastic result and will challenge the mayor all the way.”

Sources close to Mr Khan have previously argued he is tackling crime “with one hand tied behind his back, in the face of over £1bn of Tory austerity cuts to cops and youth services”, while adding that he “would welcome the Lib Dems joining him in making the case for the Government to properly fund our police”.

The Lib Dem manifesto also promises that Mr Blackie will “keep London welcoming, with a London passport for EU citizens”. The document would confirm EU citizens’ rights and help them protect themselves from the Home Office when it makes mistakes that could threaten them.

Another pledge is to incentivise Londoners to move to greener energy by making grants of up to £500 available for the installation of solar panels. Mr Blackie said the grant would be repaid using the electricity generated, not cash from Londoners' pockets.

The Lib Dems suffered a blow last week when the party’s former mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, endorsed Mr Khan - saying that the election is a “two-horse race” between him and Tory candidate Susan Hall. This was despite Ms Benita objecting to Mr Khan using that phrase when she was the Lib Dem candidate in 2020. At that time, she called his mayoralty “a string of disappointments”.

Neither Mr Khan nor Ms Hall have yet published their manifestos, with a little over two weeks until the election on Thursday, May 2.