Thousands have registered interest" in ID cards, says Identity & Passport Service

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Identity document, Passport

Several thousand people have expressed interest in buying one of the government's non-compulsory ID cards, according to the department responsible...

Several thousand people have expressed interest in buying one of the government's non-compulsory ID cards, according to the department responsible for their introduction.

The figure was revealed by James Hall, chief executive of the Identity & Passport Service, who said a staged roll-out of the cards would start in Manchester later this year, before being expanded across the North West in the early part of 2010.

Identity cards, which will cost £30 each, would be primarily aimed at young adults, the population group consistently asked to prove their ages in places such as pubs, Hall said.

Cards would not replace the passport or the driving licence as methods of identification, but would supplement them, he said.

"The passport will remain the gold standard, but it is not convenient and can easily be lost, while people are nervous about using their driving licence because it includes their home address," he added.

The government was aware of alternative card schemes, such as PASS, but felt there were "multiplicity issues" and the ID card offered the best single form of age proof, he noted.

Many licensees do not believe the cards will offer them the protection from under-age drinkers trying to buy alcohol - which the government says backs the argument for issuing them.

While fraudulent cards are a major headache for pubs, Hall said the government had gone to "a considerable amount of trouble" to prevent forgery from taking place, in part through the use of biometric fingerprint technology.

However it would be some time before pubs had the machinery to monitor this aspect and in the meantime licensees should check that the bearer matches the photo on the card, he added.

Businesses can access an ID card information pack at www.businesslink.gov.uk/idsmart from September 24, 2009, when a major promotional campaign around the cards will also be launched.

Related topics: Sport

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