JOHN Reid joined immigration officers on a series of dawn raids yesterday as he tried to prove he was taking a more hands-on approach than his predecessors to tackle deportation.
The Home Secretary, who has portrayed himself as an "enforcer", donned a stab-proof vest as he witnessed teams forcing entry to four homes in London from 5am.
He watched as officers made two arrests, a spokesman for the Home Office said.
But Mr Reid's attempt to show he was making progress over the foreign-prisoner fiasco may have backfired after immigration lawyers warned that his presence during the raids could have undermined the chances of deporting some of the foreign nationals.
Keith Best, the chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, said Mr Reid could be put in an "embarrassing situation" if he had to decide the fate of an individual who he had witnessed being seized.
"The Home Secretary should stand above operational matters, to be a disinterested party making decisions in a judicial manner," Mr Best said.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said he hoped Mr Reid had sought legal advice before embarking on his "photo opportunity".