Donald Trump’s terror threat claims are wrong, say British police

The availability of guns seen as key difference why police in the UK are much safer than those in the US

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The Independent Online

Of the 116 police officers who have died while on duty in the US this year, the biggest single cause was shooting. 

In Britain, there have been three on-duty police deaths in 2015. One was a car crash, another fell ill, while a third – PC David Phillips in Merseyside – was knocked down by a stolen vehicle.

Officials compiling the figures for the Police Roll of Honour Trust have found that more officers died from car crashes on their way home than anything else in recent years. The last time that the death of any officer could be attributed to Islamist terrorism was in 2003 in Manchester with the murder of Detective Constable Stephen Oake by Kamel Bourgass, who was wanted over the 2002 ricin plot to attack the London Underground. Ronan Kerr, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was killed in 2011 in a bomb attack by dissident republicans.

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The statistics point to the obvious flaws in Donald Trump’s analysis of the terror threat facing police in London. “There’s nowhere in London where we’re unable to police, or areas where we cannot go,” said Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation which represents rank-and-file officers. “If he wants to come over and show us where that is, we’d be very interested to see it.” A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “We would not normally dignify such comments with a response, however we think it’s important to state to Londoners that Mr Trump could not be more wrong. 

“Any candidate for the presidential election in the United States of America is welcome to receive a briefing from the Met Police on the reality of policing London.”

The availability of guns – both for criminals and law enforcement – is seen as the key difference why police in the UK are much safer than those in the US. Disputes turn to fatal violence in the US much quicker, say police leaders. British officers have a long, proud history of being unarmed. The intense scrutiny when shots are fired means they are less trigger-happy than their US counterparts.

However, a fatwa issued by Isis last year provided specific justification for attacking police and the security forces, led to arrests and prosecutions over potential jihadist plots. A policeman in the West Midlands has been charged over a false kidnap plot that led police to take security precautions across the country.