Days after US President Donald Trump criticised rise in knife attacks in Britain, Sunday Times’ analysis of the latest Home Office records shows that such crimes have spread beyond cities.
Incidents of knife attacks have nearly doubled in Hertfordshire, Warwickshire, Hampshire, Essex and Norfolk.
Sunday Times reported last month that London’s murder rate has overtaken that of New York in February and March with as many as 36 deaths reported.
While crimes related to knife attacks went up by 20% in London over the past three years, they rose in the range of 50% (Thames Valley) to 274% (Norfolk) in the suburbs and shires.
The National Crime Agency linked many of these attacks to drugs as gangs from London, Merseyside and Manchester are directly selling cocaine and heroin to users in the suburbs and beyond, bypassing local drug dealers and leading to turf wars.
Addressing the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday, Trump said knife attacks have risen to such an extent in London that one hospital looked “like a war zone.”
Because of tough gun laws, Londoners do not have guns but they have knives instead, he said repeating the word ‘knives’ three times miming a stabbing motion.
Trump’s comments upset many Londoners who expressed their anger on social media. Jim Pickard, the chief political correspondent for the Financial Times, wrote on Twitter that it was “almost like [Trump] wants London to detest him.”
BBC radio host Jeremy Vine asked: “If everyone with a knife in London swapped it for a gun, wouldn’t things be much worse?”
Charlie Falconer, a lawyer, said “Trump lies on everything.”
Dr Martin Griffiths of Royal London Hospital tweeted that he would be “happy to invite Mr. Trump” to visit his hospital and meet London’s mayor and police chief to learn how the city has reduced violent crime.
Trump will be visiting the UK on 13 July when mass protests are expected.
Parisians equally hurt
While Trump’s remarks on knives upset Londoners, Parisians were furious over his remarks on guns.
Addressing the same National Rifle Association function on Friday, he mimicked shooters who killed 90 people in Bataclan concert hall during the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Trump wanted to drive home the point that the carnage could have been stopped if some members among the audience had guns to fight back.
Trump told the rifle owners that music lovers gathered at Bataclan had no guns and over 130 people were killed or wounded by a small group of terrorists who burst into the concert hall.
The terrorists slowly gunned them down one by one, he said, and mimicked the shooters shouting ‘boom, boom!’
France’s Foreign Ministry expressed its disapproval of the comments which showed scant respect for the memory of the victims.
Former French President Francois Hollande, who was in office at the time of the attacks, tweeted that Trump’s remarks and gestures were “shameful” and “obscene.”
Prime minister of the time, Manuel Valls, wrote on Twitter: “Indecent and incompetent. What more can I say?”
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said Trump’s comments were contemptuous and unworthy.
The remarks came days after Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron stressed their friendship during Macron’s state visit to the US.