Fact Checking Trump’s Tweet On UK Crime

By David Malcolm

If you’ve read Trump’s Tweets (and literally nothing else) then the UK is caught in the grip of a crime wave, the likes of which have rarely been seen before. Crime in the UK is up 13% over the last few months, higher than the aftermath of the EU referendum last year. Of course, as far as Trump is concerned, there’s only one reason why it’s up. No, it’s not liberal lefty snowflakes but Muslims and ‘radical Islamic extremism’. This is one more reason to keep America safe rather than re-examining gun control.

Being a UK resident, I always dread when Trump tweets about Britain. I had hoped that after the backlash over attacking Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, he’d lay off the Brits for a while. Sadly, once again, Trump has decided to take a serious issue and trivialize it, scoring political points in the process. You can harp on about how other corrupt politicians do something similar, but I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one. Trump is a liar and if you disagree, you’re not paying attention.

I can’t even believe that we in Britain have to fact-check a statistic because of an ill-advised Tweet, but there you go. Can’t let the Fake News get away with spreading lies, can we? However, instead of peddling lies, let’s dig deeper and do some actual research.

For a start, it is true that there is a 13% increase in crime in the UK from June last year to June of this year. However, that figures explicitly excludes terror attacks. Instead, the figures are fuelled by a 26% increase in knife crime and a 19% increase in sexual offenses. In addition, homicides (including murder and manslaughter) went up by 46 to 629, again excluding the terror attacks.

However, there is a discrepancy in the data itself. The statistics Trump referred to are statistics related to police-recorded crime and that makes a difference. The Crime Survey data (involving face-to-face interviews with people affected by crime) shows crime down by 9%, not including fraud or online crime. It has limitations such as not counting murders, but it often shows crimes that are under-reported like hate crime. Hate crime is generally considered to be another reason why crime has gone up though that in itself is debatable.

The important thing to understand that, while the increase seems high, it’s mostly because crime as a whole has been steadily falling in the last decade. That, combined with the improvement in recording crimes, is technically a good thing. Crime in Scotland, for example, is at its lowest level in decades.

Of course, that is not to understate the importance of the statistics. A 26% increase in knife crime and 27% increase in gun crime in the UK is terrifying and needs imminent action. Knives and guns in British gangland warfare can be devastating, alongside the increase in acid attacks.

That said, Trump may wish to consider that 629 homicides in the whole of the UK are still less than the 758 deaths in the single US city of Chicago in 2016, despite holding a similar number of people. If Trump wants America to be safe, why not start by helping crime in Chicago? How about following the advice of Winston Churchill’s grandson as well?

Of course, people have something of a trust issue when it comes to statistics and they’re not entirely wrong. Certainly, the increase in crime makes the argument for more police officers a solid one. It makes arguing for better pay easier as well. Funny how that argument has come up more often after the 2017 UK general election. Even so, always dig deeper and keep checking. Eventually, the truth will reveal itself.

In case it wasn’t quite clear, I do not take kindly to Trump scoring political points by distorting my home country. Britain can be a dark and grim place at times, but it’s still my home and it certainly isn’t what Fox News would have you believe. British Muslims are much like British Christians: ordinary people living their life in their home country in spite of everything. The last they need is fear-mongering from someone who doesn’t understand the real issue at stake.

Take a look, America. This is why we don’t want Trump to visit the UK. This is why we don’t want him to see the Queen or have him speak at the House of Commons. We’re not perfect, but at least we don’t pretend to be righteous.

Mr. Trump, open a Bible and read Matthew 7:5. Then follow those words.

I'm a historian based in the UK who likes jumping from one thought to next. I love to learn new things and explore other ideas.

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