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The government took the first steps today to lay the foundations for ...
The government took the first steps today to lay the foundations for

a compulsory identity card scheme, as it launched a trial of

biometric technology involving 10,000 volunteers.

The six-month trial run by the UK Passport Service (UKPS) will test

facial, iris and fingerprint recording and recognition. Each

volunteer will receive a personalised smart card carrying both

printed and electronic information. Results from the trial will help

inform the government's plans to introduce biometric passports and

driving licences, and build a base for the national identity card


Home Office minister Beverley Hughes said:

'Through identity cards, the government is determined to put Britain

at the forefront of international developments in the use of

biometrics to protect our citizens from identity theft and to prevent

abuse of our immigration system.

'We are building the foundations for a compulsory national identity

card scheme, and are moving ahead with the development and testing of

this cutting-edge technology.

'This large-scale trial into the practicalities of recording and

verifying biometrics will play an important part in that process. The

issuing of upgraded biometric passports from 2005 will help build the

base for the identity card scheme.

'By using biometric data, linked to a national database, we can

provide a modern, secure means of confirming identity, helping us to

crack down on identity fraud, immigration abuse, illegal working and

organised crime. We will also be in a much better position to ensure

that our free public services are only used by those who are actually

entitled to them.'

Chief executive of UKPS, Bernard Herdan, said:

'The biometric trial is an important stepping stone in developing the

use of biometrics in the British passport and the national identity

card scheme. The trial will help us understand how the enrolment of

biometrics will work, what it w ill cost, and how our customers will

react. Biometrics will further enhance the security features of

passports and are an essential element in the UKPS drive to

strengthen identity authentication and reduce identity fraud and

related crimes.'

Working in close collaboration with the Home Office and the DVLA, the

UKPS will carry out the trials at various locations involving a

representative group of the UK population. The pilot, which will run

from January to June 2004, will employ four fixed, one mobile and one

portable unit. The technical delivery will be undertaken under

contract by SchlumbergerSema, and the recruitment of volunteers will

be managed by MORI.

The UKPS intends to begin issuing passports incorporating a chip

holding a facial biometric in mid-2005.


1. The UK Passport Service (UKPS) signed a contract with

SchlumbergerSema on 27 November 2003 to deliver the six-month

biometric enrolment pilot, to be carried out from January to June

2004. Over a six-month period 10,000 volunteers will have their

facial, iris and fingerprint personal identifiers - known as

biometrics - enrolled.

The objectives of the UKPS biometric pilot are:

- to test the use of biometrics through a simulation of the passport


- to include exceptional cases, eg people who may have

difficulties in enrolment;

- to measure the process time and hence estimate costs;

- to assess customer perceptions and reactions;

- to assess practical aspects of incorporation of biometrics into a

biometric database;

- to trial the use of biometrics to prevent duplicate identities;

- to test fingerprint and iris biometrics for one-to-many

identification and facial recognition - for one-to-one verification;

- to identify issues and risks and produce an outline implementation


2. The UKPS and SchlumbergerSema are in the process of selecting the

sites for the biometrics t rial, which will include a passport office.

The locations of the other three fixed sites will be decided during

the course of the trial. The mobile and portable units will enable

the UKPS to cover other parts of the country.

3. The recruitment of volunteers will be managed by MORI to ensure a

representative sample of the UK population. Any requests to take part

in the trial should be directed to Melanie Briere, MORI, on telephone

number 020 7347 3023 / email

4. Facial recognition, iris pattern and fingerprint images were

nominated the most suitable biometrics for use at border controls and

passport issuance by the International Civil Aviation Organisation

(ICAO) in May 2003.

5. One-to-one verification is where identity is checked against a

document to ensure that the holder is the person it was issued to

(eg comparing the facial image on the identity card against the

person or against the database). For one-to-many identification the

biometric (iris pattern or fingerprint) is compared against a

database to verify a person's identity. Such a check would reveal any

previous application, preventing issuance of documents to the same

person under different identities.

6. The UKPS will implement initially a facial recognition biometric

(which can be derived from a passport photograph) in the British

Passport book in accordance with emerging international standards in

2005. The UKPS is giving consideration to include a secondary

biometric, either the image of the bearer's iris or fingers, in a

later version of the passport. The UKPS will subsequently launch a

passport card also holding biometric information.

7. The government is planning to start introducing identity cards on

a phased basis from 2007/08. Together with the incremental roll-out

of biometric passports and driving licences, this would mean that

that 80% of the economically active population could be covered

within five years.

< p/="">8. The UKPS is also in partnership with SchlumbergerSema for

facilities management of the UKPS administration IT system. For

further information on SchlumbergerSema, visit

9. The contract award will be announced in the Official Journal of

the European Union (OJEU) in due course.

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