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Personation: Crime Prevention

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government have taken to reduce the number of offences related to identity theft since 1997. (197681)

We are involved in a variety of activity to reduce the incidence of offences related to identity theft. A public-private sector work programme, the Identity Fraud Steering Committee (IFSC), was set up in 2003 to co-ordinate this work.

We have sought to ensure better co-ordination in prosecuting fraudsters. This has involved the establishment of a network of single points of contact in all police forces and a range of Government Departments and agencies dealing with identity fraud investigations and prosecutions.

Legislation has also been strengthened. Tougher criminal penalties have been introduced for driving licence and passport offences, alongside offences in the Identity Cards Act 2006 to target those who possess and use false identity documents and genuine documents belonging to someone else.

More powers to share data to combat fraud have been enacted in the Serious Crime Act 2007, and most recently the Disclosure of Death Registration Information Scheme, under the Police and Justice Act 2006, was launched on 16 January 2008.

We have introduced systems to confirm the validity of UK passports presented to other organisations and interviews for first time passport applicants over 16-years-old now take place to verify the identity of individuals.

The IFSC produce a leaflet and a website www. to increase public awareness of the problem. The material advises on how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud, warning signs to look out for, and what someone should do if they do fall victim.

On 9 October 2007 the Attorney-General announced that funding had been approved for the proposals arising from the Government's Fraud Review. This includes the development of a National Fraud Strategic Authority, together with a National Fraud Reporting Centre, the establishment of the City of London Police as the lead force on fraud, and proposals for measurement of fraud. These measures will help to tackle fraud in general and increase our understanding of the nature and extent of the problem.

Finally, our plans for a National Identity Scheme will provide people with a highly secure means of protecting their identity and help citizens to prove their identities easily, quickly and with vastly improved security.