The Conservative London mayoral candidate has been accused of politicising the disappearance of Sarah Everard.
Shaun Bailey said his wife and daughter “have to live in fear” in the capital but vowed that he would work to “deliver for the safety of women and girls” if he wins May’s contest.
Liberal Democrat rival Luisa Porritt said Mr Bailey’s comments were “utterly grotesque” following the disappearance of Ms Everard, who was last seen in south London on March 3.
A police officer held over the disappearance of 33-year-old Ms Everard has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police said the man, who is in his 40s and is part of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, was being questioned over suspected kidnap and murder.
Ms Everard is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton – a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes.
She was last captured on a doorbell camera walking along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill at around 9.30pm on March 3.
Mr Bailey’s comments were made following the arrest of the officer in connection with the case but before police said he was being held on suspicion of murder.
Mr Bailey said: “As a father and husband it breaks me to think that my wife and daughter have to live in fear in their own city.
“It doesn’t have to be this way.
“As mayor, I‘ll ensure that we are working to deliver for the safety of women and girls in London.”
Ms Porritt said: “I find it utterly grotesque that (Shaun Bailey) is politicising the disappearance of a young woman.
“Her disappearance has nothing to do with his campaign and he should apologise immediately. My thoughts are with Sarah Everard and her loved ones today.”
Labour MP Catherine West said: ” This is really not the time for cheap, political point scoring.”
The Hornsey and Wood Green MP added: “All our thoughts should be with Sarah, her family and friends at this unimaginably difficult time.”
Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, said: “Like so many Londoners across our city, my heart goes out to the family and friends of Sarah Everard, who are so desperately worried about her. “