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LEADING ARTICLE : Identity cards and the precarious state of data protection

From Mr Gary Slapper

Sir: Not only, as you suggest ("Howard plays his card", 25 May), is there no substantial evidence that identity cards will help to reduce crime, but such a scheme would, paradoxically, increase crime.

It would not be long before even "smart" ID cards were being counterfeited and sold. The fakes would become licences for their users to commit crime under various identities.

Cheque guarantee cards, credit cards, cash-machine cards and Switch cards were all trumpeted as security improving measures, yet once the best scams became known in the criminal fraternities, the amount of money dishonestly obtained through card use by criminals was massively higher than that acquired through old-fashioned techniques such as mugging.

Yours faithfully,


Law School

Staffordshire University