(Further to 22.11.07, A Number of political Comments,) Identity Cards are still going the rounds and also another product of immigration. I propose to try to analyse the need for them more deeply, as I feel they are an expensive aberration.
The Government seems intent upon pushing ahead with universal ID, paid for by the individual – the cost, allegedly, about £60 each, or about £3.6bn. If you are making that number, in this day and age of sophisticated invention, it is reasonable to expect the outcome would cost a lot less, especially when the banks are scattering them like chaff, What is more, we know the day they are issued, a way of circumventing them will be in hand. Am I wrong in doubting what they tell me, and in fact this is all just another hidden tax? Logically, if these cards are sufficiently secure and efficient, as the government implies, the saving in man-hours, and overheads in checking for and dissuading the miscreants will be so large over time, that the original cost would have been absorbed and should never have been a charge on the individual
A number of types of information suggested to be placed on them is, name, address, date of birth, National Health number, bank and part bank number, Blood group, finger print, and possible eye recognition and DNA. Whether this is accurate isn’t important, all I want to look at is the principle. Who needs them, what is needed and what is dangerous? The police require an ID for ‘Stop and search’ to be simple and speedy, when they are looking for illegal immigrants, criminals, or dealing with the speechless. They would help with over-the-counter fraud only if secure, but that is the 64 dollar question. To use them instead of passports would devalue existing passports which would cause annoyance and confusion at docks and airports, to those holding passports they had paid for. The current system seems as adequate as we need. If my friend could be defrauded of £20,000, with only the information on a driving licence, need I say more?
Let us, just for ease of approximation, group the population by age, roughly guessing the numbers in each group. Those who need cards least, the 0-7s (5m) and the 76-86s (4m). Most of the former will be on their parents’ passport, and the latter will have driving licences and bus passes. Most immigrants will be below the age of 40, so we can take say 90% or 23m, out of the groups between 44-75s (25m), many also will have passports. We are then left with the 8-42’s, (26m), of whom a large percentage, say 50%, 13m, will, today, have passports.. Secondary school children and further education students could be provided with college passes, but I suspect this would be unacceptable to some. So, with this system of assessment, we could avoid having sophisticated ID cards with only a small risk of fraud in 45m cases out of 60m. Clearly this is not scientific, but even if it is only a ballpark figure, it means we have 60m cards when the risk warrants only 15m
Looking at it another way, makes it clear that ID is needed to check probably for about 500,000 possible illegal immigrants and criminals. This is arrived at by supposing we have 2m immigrants currently in this country, say the proportion crooked is 20% That is inordinately high in any society. Now add 100,000 criminals on the run, again excessive, giving a total of 500,000. So we would be having 60m ID cards, no matter who paid for them, to check for some 0.8% of the population, if indeed that number, without any guarantee that the system will be totally secure. One other question does cross my mind, just how many people are stopped and searched in a year, not counting repeat searches? I can’t remember when I last saw a policeman on a beat.