Manchester journo gets first ID card - late

Nearly scuppered by potatoes, Chadderton

A Manchester Evening News hack claims to be the first member of the public to get an ID card in the government's pilot, despite her application almost being scuppered by an accident with a roast potato.

Angela Epstein was offered the first appointment at the City's ID central office, after covering the scheme in her column in the paper.

Her card was turned round in less than 24 hours, she said, leaving her "so proud I could almost burst I haven’t felt this good about cradling something small and pink since my daughter Sophie was born."

She then admitted that was a slight exaggeration, before taking her readers on a fascinating travelogue through the bowels of the government's ID bureaucracy.

After being offered the appointment, Epstein wrote, she turned up at the office, presumably on Monday, the day the pilot went live.

"I’d filled in a form, not dissimilar to a passport application, which was checked over and imputed [sic] into a computer by a charming but slightly nervous lady whose badge said Pauline – was that her ID, I wondered?

"I was then asked to choose five ‘password’ questions from a list of 20 which were unique to me and could subsequently prove who I was. They included name of first pet, favourite song and best subject at school. Cute but slightly bonkers, perhaps."

After that Epstein was lead to "a curtained booth to have biometric particulars taken down: not as saucy as it sounds but simply my photo, prints and electronically recorded signature."

But at this point she revealed that the process was almost aborted:

"Thanks to a small burn on my index finger (roast potatoes can be lethal) the plaster I was wearing scuppered my prints, foxed the scanner and baffled the interviewing officer at Manchester’s Passport and Identity Service in Piccadilly."

Luckily, the government has staffed its ID apparatus with top notch civil servants brimming with initiative, and "we put our heads together and agreed that removing it (the plaster, not the finger) would resolve the situation."

Epstein was told she'd get her card the same day, instead of the normal four to ten, what with there being no backlog.

However, it didn't actually turn up until the next day. This wasn't due to a the crush of applications, but because it had to come via something called Chadderton.

She adds that when she went to pick it up, a "Roy Cropper wannabe complete with diagonally placed bag was eagerly awaiting his turn while a middle-aged man with a nice wax jacket did the crossword."

So, two days in, and the government appears to have enticed at least three people to join the scheme, and is already running late distributing the cards.

Of course, Epstein understands some people have reservations about the ID card. "As I’ve said before I understand why people have their reservations, but I personally can’t see what there is to lose if you’re a law abiding citizen with nothing to hide."

Which suggests to us that the biometrics booth, as well as including photo, dabs and signature scanners also includes a state of the art human chipping device. ®

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