Home Secretary left speechless over success in cutting crime

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It should have been a day of triumph for the Government yesterday. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, was up in the North-west, where she was due to bask in glory alongside Greater Manchester Chief Constable Peter Fahy over a "ground-breaking" crime reduction initiative.

Unfortunately for Ms Smith, the police realised on the morning of the announcement that they ran the risk of being in contempt of court if it went ahead. The photo opportunity was cancelled, but not before details of the high-profile policing operation, for which Ms Smith was pledging a further £50,000, had been carried by newspapers and news channels.

The Home Office blamed the fiasco on Greater Manchester Police. "The Home Secretary was there on the invitation of the police – it was their event," a spokesman said. Ms Smith was left talking about another Government headache: identity cards. She told pupils in Wythenshawe, a deprived part of the city: "I think, having talked to young people this morning, that having a safe and secure way of proving your identity is something they want and something they need."