Scope for bungling

That thousands of people have been wrongly reported as criminals because of errors in Criminal Record Background checks is a striking illustration of the problems innocent people can face when government databases provide inaccurate information, and records from one person are mistakenly matched with those of another.

As state surveillence and monitoring grows, such errors will occur increasingly. The vast quantity of information to be stored on the National Identity Register, with thousands of access points across the country and updated every time an identity is verified, will provide enormous scope for bungling bureaucrats to inject confusion and chaos into our lives.

If the Identity and Passport Service succeeds in procuring a register before the government realises the folly of its current proposals, we can look forward to all sorts of mayhem: innocent people being confused with terrorists and prevented from flying when identified at airports; sick citizens being confused with illegal immigrants and denied access to healthcare; pensioners being confused with schoolchildren and denied access to benefits.

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Recent revelations from the Home Office - failing to consider foreign convicts for deportation, employing illegal immigrants, losing thousands of passports, accidentally making it legal to possess false passports - demonstrate that the only thing at which this bureaucracy can succeed is taking incompetence and maladministration to new levels.

Under no circumstances should it be entrusted with a new database and identity scheme designed to intrude into every aspect of our lives.

GERAINT BEVAN, NO2ID Scotland, Grovepark Gardens, Glasgow

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