"One of the fastest growing crimes in the UK, identity fraud, costs the country an estimated £1.3 billion a year."
This is of course, utter rubbish.
When Charles Clarke took up the baton from David Blunkett, his first propaganda piece in The Times, of 20th December 2004, which he recited almost word for word as his Second Reading "justification" for the Identity Cards Bill contained a similar claim, also made by David Blunkett, Des Browne and Peter Hain.
"It will reduce identity fraud, which now costs the UK more than £1.3 billion every year.
Here we go again. Identity Fraud - a study" (241Kb .pdf) was a Cabinet Office report published in July 2002. It did not reccomend that ID Cards were a solution to fraud. However, the Home Office keeps on trotting out the unscientific guesstimate published in Annex B of this report. These figures are literally finger in the air guesses, but they are being portrayed by the Home Office as hard facts.
Just to make this clear, here are the "estimates" from Annex B:
|Total cost of identity fraud|
|Customs||VAT||215|| Total MTIC fraud £1.7 £2.6bn|
(midpoint £2.15bn). Assumes ID
fraud is 10% of this
|Money laundering||395|| Based on £490m over 18 months;|
consistent with £200m in c. London
|DH||Health Authorities||0.75|| Study done in 2 HAs only no|
broader extrapolation permitted
2816 multiple registrations
|Tax repayment||No figures|
|DSA||Driving tests|| 1200 not allowed to take theory|
test; 3231 not allowed to take
practical. Costs are non-financial
|DWP||Instrument of Payment||No figures|
| Child Benefit
| Pensions & overseas
|Welfare fraud||35||C 1% of all welfare fraud (£25bn)|
|LCD|| Legal aid
||Passports||1484 Fraudulent applications|
||Driving licences||No figures|
|| 247 suspicious applications for,|
theft of and fraudulent uses of birth
and death certificates
|| About 25 suspicious applications|
for, theft of and fraudulent uses of
birth and death certificates.
| Police forces
|| Unpaid speeding/
||Credit cards||370|| Includes use of counterfeit,|
lost/stolen cards and card not
present fraud 2001 estimate
| Insurance companies
||250|| Based on £1 bn total; 50% premeditated;|
50% of this being direct
|CIFAS||62.5|| Value of false ID/victim of|
impersonation fraud (by number
of frauds reported)
Neither the Home Office nor the Cabinet Office has bothered to repeat even this inadequate research in 2003 or 2004, so there is not even a guess available to see if the changes in various security measures such as passport delivery via allegedly secure courier rather than by postal mail, or credit card "Chip and PIN" has made any difference to this figure or not.
There is no such single crime or offence as "Identity Fraud". It is not the same as an occasional fraudulent credit card transaction, for instance, most of which happen online via the Internet, which is an area, where the choice of a Biometric ID card, is a bad one, as biometrics are useless over the Internet - nobody can trust them !
The Home Office does not even bother to collate "Identity Fraud" or "Identity Theft" crime statistics, either from the Police, or from the British Crime Survey.
How can they even tell if the situation gets better or worse with the introduction of ID Cards ?
How can they honestly base a multi-billion pound project on such a wobbly foundation ?
The Which? survey is also a one off event, and can provide no evidence of an increase in "Identity Fraud". The £1.3 billion a year figure might as well refer to the weight in tonnes of the criminals involved, the figure on its own is just as meaningless. N.B. this is not the only scandalously innaccurate figure being hyped to the media, upin which a major Government policy is founded on c.f. SOCA spin - How much does Serious and Organised Crime cost the UK ? £40 billion or £20 billion ? Where are the figures for the actual number of frauds and the number of criminals involved ? What is the average size of the financial loss involved in ID Fraud ? How much effort does it take to correct all the records involved with a "stolen identity" ? How can people seriously claim that "One of the fastest growing crimes in the UK, identity fraud, costs the country an estimated £1.3 billion a year." ? Given the extraordinary parroting of this false claim by the media, one has to ask if the "number of column inches", devoted to this will be fed back into the "climate of fear" media feedback loop, which apparently influences Home Office crime prevention strategy.