A US study of Donald Trump’s tweets this week concluded they tell you about him more than they spark deep, insightful policy debates.
But his sudden interest in the annual crime rate in England and Wales and his conflation of this week’s 13% jump in offences with “radical Islamic terror” attacks in Britain is likely to fuel another ugly statistic published by the Home Office this week.
That was the four-month surge in hate crime following this year’s attacks, with British Muslim communities mostly on the receiving end of the 6,000 incidents a month when the figures peaked in June.
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
First the textual analysis. For every Fraser Nelson, the Spectator editor who tried to point out – not without grammatical foundation – that “amid” didn’t necessary mean the president was directly blaming radical Islam for the rise in crime in England and Wales, there were many more – such as the notorious Katie Hopkins – who were only too willing to use it to fan the flame of Islamophobia.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) October 20, 2017
What about the facts? Well, Trump got the 13% right, which is the increase in police-recorded crime over the 12 months to June. However, a second yardstick, the Crime Survey of England and Wales, showed a 9% fall, but that excluded online crime.
Perhaps the more reliable figure is the 19% increase in violent crime recorded by the police over the past year, including an 8% increase in the underlying murder rate.
What do the statisticians say about what lies behind this accelerating increase in crime in England and Wales? “The 13% increase in police recorded crime from the previous year reflects a range of factors including continuing improvements to crime recording and genuine increases in some crime categories, especially in those that are well-recorded,” say the UK’s Office for National Statistics.
So the increasing pace of terror attacks in England this year is not the cause? No, the ONS does not say that the attacks, let alone radical Islam, are among the causes of rising crime. Indeed, they go further and explicitly exclude the 35 victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks from the official homicide count for the year.
They report that the number of homicides in England and Wales jumped by 46 victims to 629 – a rise of 8%. In British terms this is a worrying trend and put alongside a 26% increase in knife crime and 27% increase in gun crime amounts to an issue that the prime minister, let alone the home secretary, ought to be alarmed about.
Yet, unlike Trump, neither saw fit to comment on the figures on Thursday, leaving it to a junior Home Office minister to explain what they are doing about it.
As for Trump, he might like to reflect that the 629 homicides in England and Wales – population 53 million – in the past 12 months is somewhat below the 2016 death toll of 758 in the single US city of Chicago, population 2.7 million.
As the Conservative MP and grandson of Winston Churchill, Sir Nicholas Soames, replied to Trump #thenfixguncontrolyoudafttwerp.
— Nicholas Soames (@NSoames) October 20, 2017