The first batch of biometric identity cards issued in Britain last week to foreigners are not being read because the government failed to issue a single scanner in time.
Machines that scan fingerprints and facial details were meant to be in the hands of employers, recruiters and emergency services for the rollout of the cards on Tuesday.
But The Observer reported that the Home Office had still not issued the biometric readers by last week, and was unable to say when deployment would begin.
As a result, the cards can only be used as a visual identifier, like a valid passport or visa, making their current use akin to a ‘flash and go’ corporate identity card scheme.
Ministers have hailed the capture of facial image and fingerprints of card-holders as a way to “lock” foreign nationals to one identity and help stamp out illegal working.
Welcoming the issuing of the cards to foreign staff, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said the move would enhance “safe and ethical recruitment” in the UK.
It called its members, including IT recruiters, to ensure that they
familiarise themselves with the appearance of the cards to ensure foreign candidates they engage are eligible.
However, documents from the Home Office state that the cards’ biometric details will only be cross-checked with the National Identity Register in a minority of cases.
Employers who suspect the cards are not genuine must report to the UK Borders Agency, as must colleges in the UK with similar doubts about foreign students they enlist.
Public and private sector bodies need to change how they vet workers’ rights to be in the UK, ensuring their contact details and a copy of their identity card are stored.
© Contractor UK