Trevor Mendham

UK Compulsory National Identity Cards (ID Cards)


To Fight Crime and Terror

"Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country" - Tony Blair, 7/7/2005

Following the 11th September atrocity, the UK Government immediately began talking about introducing ID Cards. We were told they would help fight crime and specifically terrorism. In fact this was simply a case of Blunkett shamelessly taking advantage of the post-911 panic.

There is no evidence to support the claim that ID Cards will significantly cut down on crime and terror. Many other countries have ID Cards and still suffer from crime and terrorism.

Spain has compulsory Identity Cards. That did nothing to prevent the Madrid massacre.

Even the USA in the aftermath of 911 has not attempted to introduce compulsory National Identity Cards. Remember that all the September 11th terrorists entered the US on valid documents - ID Cards would have made no difference to their actions.

The best that an ID Card can possibly do is to prove who someone is. It can never prove their intent. If I wake up tomorrow and decide to plant a bomb then no ID Card will stop me.

In Northern Ireland, the authorities knew for years the identities of many of those behind the terrorist campaigns. The bombings continued.

The terrorists want to destroy our way of life. If our response to terrorism is to panic and give away the civil liberties we hold dear then the terrorists will have won.

In most cities the police know the identities of those responsible for the majority of crimes. They can't do anything because of lack of evidence, not lack of identification.

Those supporting Identity Cards seem to have some fantasy of criminals taking their ID Cards with them to the scene of the crime then dropping them for the police to find. More likely a smart criminal will steal someone else's ID Card and plant that to waste police time.

In the case of low-level crime, ID Cards can at least potentially identify whether or not you have a past record. It is a notable feature of suicide bombers that they are rarely repeat offenders.

ID Cards might actually increase the risk of terrorism by making people complacent. Any ID Card, no matter how technologically advanced, will be forged within a few years. It is the well-funded international terrorist organisations who will be the first to get such fakes.

Even David Blunkett himself didn't really believe that ID cards will make a significant impact on the terrorists. In July 2002 he let this slip:

"Yes, I accept that it is important that we do not pretend that an entitlement card would be an overwhelming factor in combating international terrorism. That is precisely what I said three times on the radio within a fortnight of 11 September, and I reiterated it this afternoon."
Update 26/4/2004:
An independent report from Privacy International proves there is no demonstrable link between imposing ID Cards and reducing terror.

UK ID Cards - Introduction

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