Headlines: April 24th, 2002

Home Secretary David Blunkett wants the views of the business community on the sensitive issue of identity cards. It is estimated that identity fraud costs to the economy at least 1.2 billion pounds each year, with the biggest victims outside of government being the financial services and insurance industry. A consultation paper on Entitlement Cards as a way of securely identifying people will be published later in the year, but the views of business are being sought before publication.A study on identity fraud led by the Cabinet Office has identified a number of potential initiatives that could close gaps incurrent procedures which fraudsters attempt to exploit. These include establishing a public sector database of known and suspected fraudsters against which applications for Government services could be cross-checked, making identity theft a specific offence in itself, rather than relying on offences being committed after the identity has been stolen and establishing a database of stolen identity documents that can be checked when they are produced as forms of ID

Consultation with business will also extend to establishing better communications between business and crime fighting agencies. The aim is to foster closer joint working that will bring action to combat crimes which affect business and to get assistance from the business community in tackling crimes by changing the way they operate.

The cost to business of crime is estimated at 19 billion pounds per year, but to get a more accurate and up-to-date figure a cross Government survey will be launched shortly. It will allow the Home Office to make a detailed assessment of crime against small and medium enterprises and will provide an indication of interventions by the police and others, that would be likely to reduce business crime. It will also find out levels of concern about crime what measures businesses can take to reduce their chance of being victimised.

The motor industry has shown that a concerted effort on crime prevention can yield significant results. Since 1988 there has been a drop of 13.5 per cent in motor vehicle theft, largely due to measures taken by the industry. It is hoped to match this success with the mobile phone industry.

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