Airport staff to be first with compulsory ID cards, say Tories

Smokescreen for a retreat?

Airport workers could be the first to be issued with compulsory ID cards, claimed Tory shadow home secretary David Davis today, citing government documents leaked to his party. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is due to make a speech on the future of ID cards tomorrow, and Davis suggests that she is likely to announce a postponement until 2012, while making them compulsory for selected groups of victims.

Anything Smith unveils will undoubtedly have been informed by the strategy document leaked earlier this year, which proposed backing away from a broad-based rollout and instead concentrating on 'soft targets' - people in sensitive and/or security-related roles who might be forced to take ID cards in order to retain their jobs. Negotiations over ID cards have certainly been under way with airport unions, so there is clearly an intent to make airport workers one of these groups.

The likely effectiveness of ID cards here is perhaps less clear, given that airports are by their nature full of foreigners (including foreign airline staff) who won't have ID cards, presenting an ID card system with considerable access management challenges. Or alternatively, relegating it to the status of security theatre, alongside Heathrow Terminal 5's spanking new biometric access systems. ®

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