30/07/2009

UK Identity Card Unveiled

The image of the ID card for British citizens was officially unveiled by the Home Secretary today in Manchester and London.

The ID card, which can also be used as a travel document in Europe, was revealed by the Home Secretary at St Pancras International Station in London and to residents of Greater Manchester at an event in the city centre.

The ID card image shows the information contained on the face of the card, including photograph, name, date of birth and signature, and the card’s unique design. It will hold similar information to that currently contained in the UK passport as well as a photograph and fingerprints on a secure electronic chip - linking the owner of the card securely to their unique biometric identity.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "The introduction of ID cards today reaches another milestone, enabling the people of Manchester to prove and protect their identity in a quick, simple and secure way.

"Given the growing problem of identity fraud and the inconvenience of having to carry passports, coupled with gas bills or six months worth of bank statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be welcomed as an important addition to the many plastic cards that most people already carry.

"The fact that it can be used as a passport when travelling in Europe will be an added advantage."

The new UK identity cards will feature the latest physical security features, which are designed to give the card's owner and those being asked to accept the card maximum protection from identity fraud or forgery, which costs the UK economy £1.2 billion on average each year.

They will act as a proof of age, helping prove an individual's right to enter premises or buy goods. They will also empower communities tackling anti-social behaviour and crime by allowing local retailers, including pubs and supermarkets, to make sure they aren't selling restricted goods to those who are underage.

The Home Office been under pressure over the ID Card programme in recent months.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said the government had spent more than £200m on ID cards and signed contracts worth £1bn before last month's u-turn.

"The Government has already wasted £200m that we cannot afford," said Mr Grayling.

"The scheme will cost hundreds of million pounds more, even if the cards are voluntary. It is time this scheme was completely scrapped."

(JM/BMcC)

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