The image of the ID card for British citizens was officially unveiled by the Home Secretary today in Manchester and London.
The ID card, which can also be used as a travel document in Europe, was revealed by the Home Secretary at St Pancras International Station in London and to residents of Greater Manchester at an event in the city centre.
The ID card image shows the information contained on the face of the card, including photograph, name, date of birth and signature, and the card’s unique design. It will hold similar information to that currently contained in the UK passport as well as a photograph and fingerprints on a secure electronic chip – linking the owner of the card securely to their unique biometric identity.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:
“The introduction of ID cards today reaches another milestone, enabling the people of Manchester to prove and protect their identity in a quick, simple and secure way.
“Given the growing problem of identity fraud and the inconvenience of having to carry passports, coupled with gas bills or six months worth of bank statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be welcomed as an important addition to the many plastic cards that most people already carry.
“The fact that it can be used as a passport when travelling in Europe will be an added advantage.”
The new UK identity cards will feature the latest physical security features, which are designed to give the card’s owner and those being asked to accept the card maximum protection from identity fraud or forgery, which costs the UK economy £1.2 billion on average each year.
They will act as a proof of age, helping prove an individual's right to enter premises or buy goods. They will also empower communities tackling anti-social behaviour and crime by allowing local retailers, including pubs and supermarkets, to make sure they aren't selling restricted goods to those who are underage.
A National Federation of Retailers and Newsagents spokesperson said:
“Underage sales are a problem across the UK and we are always looking for new ways for the public, especially those under the age of 18 years old, to prove their identity.”
“As the cards use the latest security technology, retailers can be confident that the person in front of them is who they say they are. What’s more, UK citizens now have the option of using a document that’s very portable and extremely useful.”
The Home Office takes seriously the concerns that the public have over their information being stored securely and accessed appropriately. That is why an Identity Commissioner will be appointed before ID cards are introduced to oversee operation of the service and report annually on the uses to which ID cards are put and the confidentiality and integrity of information recorded in the National Identity Register. Public Panel meetings in Manchester and London will allow the public to join a conversation about the National Identity Service so their views, reactions and concerns inform the way service is developed and delivered.
As the Home Secretary announced last month, the National Identity Service will be accelerated with UK citizens in the North West able to apply for a card in the New Year before full national coverage from 2012. Details of how the introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals will be speeded up will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Home Office is also working closely with the Department for Transport and Manchester and London City airports on the development of plans to introduce improvements to the existing pre-employment checking and airside pass-issuing arrangements that will be possible with the introduction of identity cards for airside workers later in 2009. This includes plans for those holding an ID card to receive increasingly joined-up airport services by enabling them to confirm their identity quickly and securely as they move between aviation employers and airports across the UK.