My hon. Friend the Minister for Criminal Information, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, has today made the following written ministerial statement:
I am today launching a four-week public consultation on proposals to prevent the supply of highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters who then use that equipment to produce false documents.
These proposals have been developed following a rising trend in illegal document factories which buy specialist printing equipment to produce counterfeits of credit cards and Government-issued documents, including passports and driving licences. This trend is contributing to the £2.7 billion cost of identity crime to the United Kingdom each year and helps criminals to enter the country illegally, to commit benefit fraud and to evade criminal records checks.
The proposals would make it a criminal offence to supply highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters, whether deliberately or without carrying out reasonable checks. The Government have held discussions with the specialist printing industry and the police, both of which originally requested that we address this issue. We are now seeking wider views which will enable us to evaluate the evidence and the impact on the industry to help shape potential proposals for legislation.
The detailed consultation questions can be found on the Home Office website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/printing-consultation/.