Donald Trump started his Friday out by falsely claiming the U.K. was in the midst of a crime-wave thanks to “radical Islamic terror” — prompting fury from British politicians.
“Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror'”, the President tweeted early in the morning. “Not good, we must keep America safe!”
Just out report: "United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror." Not good, we must keep America safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2017
The claim is apparently based on a misreading of a report released on Thursday by the U.K. Office for National Statistics (ONS) that showed crime had risen by 13 percent in England and Wales in the last year, with a total of 5.2 million offenses this year until June, compared with 4.6 million to June 2016 last year. The report barely mentions “terrorism,” and instead focuses on worrying increases in gun- and knife crime, which mainly focuses around criminal gangs. There has also been a 29 percent rise in hate crimes.
“While improvements made by police forces in recording crime are still a factor in the increases, we judge that there have been genuine increases in crime,” John Flatley of the ONS said, “particularly in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories.”
The report did note that outlying incidents affected the murder rates, including the mass attacks in London and Manchester as well as the re-classification of the deaths of 96 football fans at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster as victims of manslaughter. But even if those incidents are excluded, there is still an eight-percent rise in the U.K. murder rate — a figure that belies Trump’s claim that “radical Islamic terror” is behind the increase.
British politicians were quick to condemn Trump’s meddling. Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that the President was “spreading fear.”
Stop misleading and spreading fear. Hate crime is up and it is fuelled by the kind of populist xenophobia you peddle. https://t.co/TigSMTGTqU
— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) October 20, 2017
“Donald Trump is talking nonsense about issues he doesn’t understand,” Labour MP Stephen Doughty told MailOnline. “While we have had some very tragic and horrific terror attacks in the last year, this represents a very small proportion of overall UK crime. Donald Trump would be better placed looking at issues in his own country such as the huge number of deaths from gun violence.”
According to the ONS, there were 6,696 firearms offenses throughout the whole of England and Wales from 2016-17. In the previous year, from March 2015 to March 2016, there were 26 fatalities from gun-related crimes in the U.K. In comparison, the city of Chicago alone said it had confiscated 5,000 guns this year, an average of 24 a day.
There is also the question of how much police cuts have affected the surge in crime in the U.K..Under successive Conservative governments, the number of police officers in England in Wales has fallen by close to 20,000 from 2010, including 1,300 fewer Authorized Firearms Officers (AFOs) — the small percentage of UK police who routinely carry guns. During the London Bridge attack in June, it took AFOs eight minutes from the initial emergency call to find, locate. and kill the three marauding attackers. In the wake of the attack, even Home Secretary Amber Rudd admitted police resources were stretched too thin.
This isn’t the first time President Trump has waded into the U.K.’s domestic problems and irritated the country’s politicians and police. Last month, during the attempted bombing of Parson’s Green Underground Station, Trump blamed a “loser terrorist” and used the opportunity to tout his Muslim ban. His remarks drew a stinging rebuke from the Metropolitan Police, who said that Trump’s comments were “pure speculation given we don’t know who was involved. Any speculation is unhelpful.”