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Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

ID cards in London

Andrew Cryan
The Politics Show
BBC London

One in seven Londoners will be forced to carry an ID card in a bid to help the fight against terrorism, but will they work?

Video: ID Cards

ID Cards are nothing new for London. During the Second World War they were compulsory.

But in the 1950s it was judged that they were being used by the police in circumstances they were never intended for, such as demanding identification from a driver.

So the ID cards were scrapped.

But with 9/11 everything changed.

Just days afterwards, the British government first tentatively floated the idea of bringing them back to help in the fight against terrorism, a move not copied in the United States.

So, four home secretaries, two Prime Ministers and nearly a decade later, what has happened to them?

The ID card

Last November, Lunar House in Croydon, became the first place in the country to issue ID cards, but only to foreign nationals from outside the European Economic area who are renewing a marriage or student visa.

Standard personal details are collected along with biometric information including finger prints and a photo using facial recognition software.

The trial

Personal data on computer
Biometric details including finger prints will also be colleted

In the autumn, the first British nationals will be issued with cards, including certain workers at London City Airport who will carry them for an 18-month trial period.

The police will have no right to demand an ID card.

The government says that we will not be forced to carry a card.

We will not even have to have one.

That is except for those people at airports working air-side and the majority of non-EU foreign nationals living in the UK.

London has over 1m people who fit that description meaning around one in seven Londoners will be forced to have one.

On the Politics Show, Identity Minister Meg Hillier will argue about the benefits of the scheme with Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti.

Watch the Politics Show on BBC One at 1200 GMT on Sunday.

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