Home secretary apologises over knife stat fiasco

Home secretary Jacqui Smith has apologised over the early release of knife crime statistics.

The statistics – which showed improvement on knife crime – came under intense scrutiny after Sir Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, said they were “selective”.

Today, Ms Smith told MPs the government had been “too quick off the mark”.

Some observers are suggesting the statistics were released early to maximise the publicity surrounding Gordon Brown’s visit to a ‘No to Knives’ event at Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre in London.

At Home Office questions in the Commons, Ms Smith said: “I am sorry that I think we were too quick off the mark with the publication of one number in relation to the progress that had been made with tackling knife crime.”

Sir Michael also revealed the employees who compiled the data and Karen Dunnell, the national statistician, tried to stop the government from publishing.

“In a rare moment of self-awareness, Jacqui Smith has admitted that the government put spin over substance,” said home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.

“However, few people will believe that they wouldn’t do it again.”

The release contravened the UK Statistics Authority code of practise and was “corrosive of trust” in official figures, Sir Michael said.