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Government predicts one third of people will resist ID checks

OUT-LAW.COM | April 12, 2007

One in three people will resist identity checks according to Government figures. The just-released statistics predict a widespread revolt over identity cards, but the Home Office has dismissed the figures as irrelevant and out of date.

In 2004 Mark Oaten, the then Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs, asked for figures to be published on the assumptions being made by Government about ID cards' use. The Government refused. Oaten's request was backed by the Information Commissioner and an Information Tribunal and the figures have now been released.

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The figures show that 30 per cent of people were predicted by the Government to refuse to co-operate with ID card checks. The papers, published by the Department for Work and Pensions, show that officials expected that 60 per cent of people would carry an ID card even if it became compulsory to own but not carry one.

ID cards will be introduced next year on a voluntary basis, but the officials had operated on the assumption that they would be compulsory to have but not necessarily to carry by 2014. Even then, just 60 per cent of people would choose to carry a card, and a further 10 per cent would be happy to confirm their identity by a finger or eye-scan on the street, officials assumed.

They also calculated, though, that 30 per cent of people would refuse to carry or show their card or to submit to a finger or eye scan to confirm their identity.

The Home Office, the Government department in charge of ID cards, said the figures were "incredibly out of date", but did not indicate whether or not they still formed the basis of working assumptions forming the basis of Government plans.

The figures show that the Government believed in 2004 that ID cards would cut some benefit frauds in half. They calculated that identity fraud in Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance benefits would drop from £50m a year to £25m.

Plans for ID cards have faced widespread opposition, and Government plans to use a completely new, dedicated computer database as the basis for them have been scrapped. Several existing Government databases will now be used.

The Government has also dropped plans to have an iris scan form part of every ID card. In a Strategic Action Plan published in December, iris scanning was listed as only an option and not a requirement.

A recent survey conducted on behalf of the Daily Telegraph found that hundreds of thousands of UK citizens would refuse to sign up to a national identity register in the first place, even if it resulted in fines.

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