Trump wrongly blames rise in crime in Britain on the ‘spread of Islamic terror’
Donald Trump has erroneously linked a rise in crime in England and Wales to the “spread of radical Islamic terror” in his latest outburst on Twitter.
The tweet came as the White House confirmed that the US president will not visit Britain until next year.
“Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13 per cent annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ not good, we must keep America safe!” wrote Trump.
The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), in its quarterly update on crime on Thursday, reported a 13 per cent increase in all police-recorded offences across England and Wales.
The ONS said police recorded 5.2 million offences in the year up until to June, including gun and knife crimes, robberies, sexual offences, stalking and harassment, burglary and car crime.
The report barely mentions terrorism other than when referring to the impact recent attacks in Britain had on the headline murder rate. Thirty-five people were killed in the incidents in London and Manchester.
The president’s attention to the crime figures will not please Downing Street, as there were aspects of the ONS report that would have sounded political alarm bells, namely the acceleration in the rise in the number of police-recorded incidents of violent crime in the past two years. There were double-digit increases in certain types of violent crime, such as gun crime, knife crime and sexual offences.
The tweet was immediately seized on by far-right groups and commentators. It was retweeted by the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
The newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins quoted Trump’s tweet with a reference to “child rape squads”.
Others criticised Trump for linking the crime statistics with a rise in Islamist extremism.
— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) October 20, 2017
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) October 20, 2017
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general at the Muslim Council for Britain, who campaigns against misrepresentation of Muslims in the media, called the tweet “incompetent”.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson likened the post to a hate crime.
The England and Wales data included a 27 per cent rise in gun crime to 6,696 offences, a 26 per cent increase in knife crime to 36,998 offences, robberies up 25 per cent to 64,499, sexual offences up 19 per cent to 129,700, and stalking and harassment up 36 per cent to 243,086 reported incidents.
Trump’s concern to “keep America safe” came at a time when gun control is again on the political agenda after 58 people were killed and hundreds injured in a mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Trump has previously exaggerated the impact of radical Islamism on life in Britain. During his presidential campaign, he suggested that police in London feared for their lives because of the significant number of radicalised individuals in the capital.
In remarks made soon after he called for a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the US, he said: “Look at what happened in Paris, the horrible carnage, and frankly, if you look at Paris, and I hate to do this because the Chamber of Commerce is going to go crazy, but Paris is no longer the same city it was ... They have sections in Paris that are radicalised, where the police refuse to go there ... We have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives. We have to be very smart and very vigilant.”
The US president was invited to Britain a week after his inauguration, when Theresa May became the first foreign leader to visit the White House. Trump has since travelled to France and Germany.
On Friday, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, conceded it has still not been determined whether Trump would make a “state visit” or a “working visit” to Britain. The latter would be without royal pageantry or a meeting with the queen.
“They’ve made the invitation for the president to come. We’ve accepted and we’re working out the logistics,” Sanders said. “We anticipate that it will be some time next year but at this point there’s no other details beyond that.”
In June it emerged that Trump told May he did not want to go ahead with a state visit until the British public supported him coming. In July media reports suggest the visit would not take place until 2018 amid claims that Trump had been “ scared off ” by the threat of protests.