ID cards rolled out in Greater Manchester

Date published: 21 August 2009

The controversial ID card is set to be rolled out across Greater Manchester within weeks.

The card is intended to be used for travel across Europe, and the Government claims it will help to combat terrorism and fraud.

Identity Minister Lord Brett says that countries across Europe have already been contacted by the Identity and Passport Service to ensure they recognise and accept the cards once the first ones are issued.

Anyone travelling on the cards from day one will be able to use them in the European Economic area.

Lord Brett insisted the card will be recognised on day one of the roll out or “there will not be a day one”.

Greater Manchester has been chosen to roll out the scheme in the autumn this year before expanding to other areas in the North-West next year.

Depending on take-up, the card will then be available nationwide.

Lord Brett said: “When we do launch it, we want to make sure all our ducks are in a row, it is not just marketing and selling the card to people who want to have it but to make sure first of all that all the countries in Europe will accept it and understand it as a travel document.

“Those who are likely to see it — banks, retailers, insurance companies — they know what it says and can have confidence in it as an authentic document of identify.

“What we are not doing is setting a target for this, it is a demand led process. We chose Greater Manchester because it is a major urban centre and has a very active university and young population and a major airport.

“We will then roll it out as demand determines it. We have a website where people can register their interest and as of last week 8,000 plus people have indicated they would like one.”

The Government has long claimed the cards would help to combat terrorism and fraud, and Lord Brett said it could be most beneficial to young people.

He said opinion polls showed 59 per cent of people were in favour of a card but if they were wrong there simply would not be a lot of cards.

Price was not a deterrent and word of mouth was the key to the cards success.

He added: “We have talked in focus groups to all various ethnic groups and there seems to be no differences in concerns. Afro-Caribbean’s were concerned it could be used for stop and search but it is assuaged when you know no police officer can demand it.

“None of this is a silver bullet, but it will be helpful in terms of fraud and helpful in terms of terrorism. £30 is a lot less than £77.50 to have a passport. It will be recognised from day one or there will not be a day one. It is only a question of making sure they (other EU countries) know what it looks like and accepting it.

“It says what it does on the tin, it is your identity card, it is entirely voluntary. Young people have seen a great advantage in having one. For the young people there is the same problem we have identified, identity fraud is a big problem.”

It would also be a cheaper option for youngsters to use as an alternative to a passport until they had more cash to travel further afield than Spain or Falaraki, he added.

Fraud and forgery is estimated to cost the UK economy £1.2 billion each year. The card will hold biometric details, including a facial scan and fingerprints, and cost £30.

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