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Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department plans to take to reduce the incidence of offences related to identity fraud. (221683)

We are involved in a variety of activity to reduce the incidence of offences related to identity fraud, including through collaboration with public and private sector organisations.

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. Provisions in the Serious Crime Act 2007 allow for the targeted exchange of data between the public and private sector through an antifraud organisation to highlight potentially fraudulent applications for goods and services. Provisions in the Police and Justice Act 2006 allow for the release of information on the recently deceased to the private sector to help prevent those identities from being used by criminals.

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.

A leaflet and a website——help 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.

We have signalled our commitment to tackle fraud with the allocation of £29 million in new money over three years to implement the recommendations of the Fraud Review. A new National Fraud Strategic Authority will drive forward a comprehensive strategy for tackling fraud, bringing together the Government, criminal justice practitioners, business and the public. The money will also fund a new national lead force role for the City of London police and a National Fraud Reporting Centre which will equip law enforcement agencies with a powerful intelligence tool and help form the basis of better prevention advice and alerts to fraud threats for business and the public.

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.