ID cards might allow hooligans to travel

More than 3000 English football hooligans have had to hand their passports in to the police before the World Cup to prevent them from travelling to Germany to cause trouble. This is considered such an important measure by the authorities that the penalty for failing to surrender a passport is a £5000 fine and up to six months in prison.

The government continues to press ahead with its plans for a national ID card scheme with the claim that they will help combat terrorism. (This is despite the fact that all the most recent terrorist attacks – or attempted ones – were carried out by British citizens who would have been perfectly entitled to carry cards.)

ID cards are controversial for many reasons, but it also seems they would have allowed trouble-makers to travel to Germany this summer. Passports are not required for travel within the European Union. All that is required is a form of identification proving EU citizenship. Unlike passports, the police could not confiscate ID cards as people need to carry them to identify themselves – one day it could even be compulsory to carry them. Therefore the thugs would be free to travel.

Admittedly, suspected hooligans are supposed to report to a police station each day that England is playing. However, the size of the penalties indicates that handing in passports is considered an important measure – one that would be almost pointless if a national ID card were to be introduced.

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