ID card Bill brings in 10-year jail term for having false passport

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Possessing a false passport or driving licence is to be made illegal under moves to clamp down on identity fraud.

Possessing a false passport or driving licence is to be made illegal under moves to clamp down on identity fraud.

Under a draft Bill to introduce a national identity card scheme to be published on Monday, people holding bogus identity documents from Britain or abroad will face up to 10 years in jail. Possession of counterfeiting equipment will carry the same potential term.

Ministers hope the new offences, which will be introduced in advance of an identity card scheme, will cut down on people-trafficking, organised crime and terrorism.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, also plans to launch a website in the summer, giving advice about avoiding identity fraud. It would include shredding bank statementsand ensuring that credit-card bills are redirected properly when people move home. Identity fraud is estimated to cost the taxpayer £1.3bn a year. Each case is though to take victims up to 300 hours to sort out.

False identities are thought to be used in a third of all terrorist activities, while bogus or multiple identities are used widely in organised crime. One source said: "We are announcing a very significant package of measures while waiting to put in place a national, hi-tech system of identity cards, which will be a big process and will take years to put in place."

Ministers have set up an electronic database of lost and stolen passports. The UK Passport Service is working on including biometric data - the kind envisaged for a national identity card - on new passports, and is examining plans for a credit card-sized document.

In December, Mr Blunkett said a decision on making an identity card scheme compulsory would be taken in 2013.

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