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ID cards delayed until 2012

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The British government is delaying the roll out of the national ID card scheme to UK citizens, according to leaked documents obtained by the Tory party.

According to the documents, "Borders phase II" (UK citizens) will now roll out in 2012 instead of 2010.

The document on the "roll out strategy for the National Identity Scheme" says the first ID cards will go to "individuals where there is the strongest national or personal benefit".

The scheme "will build on and incorporate the work of the Borders Agency, which is introducing higher levels of identity management for foreign nationals".

The third priority outlined in the document is "to issue cards to those who are employed in positions of trust where identity assurance is critical to determining their appropriateness for that employment".

The Identity and Passport Service sent us the following statement:

We do not comment on leaked documents.

We have always said that the Scheme will be rolled out incrementally. As stated in the Strategic Plan for the National Identity Scheme published in December 2006, we will begin issuing ID cards for foreign nationals this year, and the first ID cards for British citizens in 2009.

By linking fingerprints to a secure database with strict rules outlining its use, the National Identity Scheme will allow individuals, business, and the state to prove identity more securely, conveniently and efficiently while protecting personal information from abuse.

The Identity and Passport Service successfully introduced the first biometric passport on time and on budget in 2006, with over 8 million now issued. The next move is to include fingerprints in a second generation biometric passport, in line with international developments in passport security. The date for that switchover to happen is currently under consideration as the UK is not bound by the EU passport Schengen regulations to do this in 2009.

The Framework procurement for the Scheme is currently underway: we will make further announcements about the rollout of ID cards in due course.

The reasons for the delay to the project, apart from usual government IT slippage, are unclear.

But the Tories also revealed that no date has been set for the publication of the report from the Public-Private Forum on Identity Management, chaired by Sir James Crosby.

A prelimary report was due by Easter 2007 but still has not been published and the Home Office confirmed no date has been set. The report was discussed with Brown in March 2007 and a fuller report will go out later this year. ®

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