Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Biometric ID Cards for UK Airport Workers ** Updated

As reported by Airport International two weeks ago, UK airport workers will be among the first British nationals to be issued with biometric identity cards.

The controversial ID card scheme has been in the news for much of this decade, attracting significant media attention.

Despite the Identity Card Act being passed in 2006, the government has struggled to get the programme off the ground.

On 6th March, the UK's Home Secretary Jacqui Smith gave a speech outlining the government's latest thinking on the roll-out of the ID card programme.

She confirmed the media reports that first surfaced two weeks ago that the ID card roll-out wil be delayed until the 2011/2012 timeframe. She also explained that passport applicants will no longer now be required to have mandatory ID cards, and that biometric iris and fingerprint data will not be collected from those applying for passports.

However, Ms Smith said that airport workers around the UK will have to have mandatory ID cards.

She explained that 200,000 staff working at airports, ranging from check-in staff to those working on airside including immigration and customs officials, baggage handlers, engineers and ground operations staff, would be receiving their mandatory ID cards from 2009.
Airport Security Improved By ID Cards, Says Government

Ms Smith said the government believed that providing mandatory ID cards to airport workers would help improve airport security.

At airports, Ms Smith said, "there is a compelling need for reassurance that someone is who they say they are".

She added: "[ID cards] offer a national standard for security [and] can add value over and above the efforts of any one sector".

Two weeks ago, when the plans to introduce mandatory ID cards were first leaked to the media, theIdentity and Passport Service, the agency which will be responsible for controlling the ID card scheme, said: "It is obviously right and logical that our first priority should be to consider where ID cards can be of greatest benefit to the security of the UK".

The government's decision to begin the ID card roll-out programme by targeting airport workers has apparently been reinforced by the findings of a Home Office review which looked at the security of the UK's transport infrastructure.
ID Card Programme Consultation Needed - Union

When the news that airport employees would be in receipt of the cards, unions said they wanted further discussion with the government over the plan.

Unite, the union representing civil air transport sector workers, said it would be seeking "full consultation" with the Home Office.

They added that they will be "seeking assurances" that the ID cards would not discriminate against existing or new BAA employees, or that workers would not have to pay the projected £93 to buy the biometric card.

Source - Airport International's Aviation Correspondent

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