Press release

National identity register destroyed as government consigns ID card scheme to history

National Identity Register (NIR), built to hold the fingerprints and personal details of millions of ID card holders, publicly destroyed.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Home Office minister Damian Green visited an industrial site in Essex today to shred the last of 500 hard disk drives and end the National Identity Scheme.

Statment from Nick Clegg

The Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, said: ‘I have always called in the strongest terms for the National Identity Register to be scrapped, and it was one of the first things the coalition pledged to do. I am delighted that Damian has today laid it to rest once and for all.

‘The ID cards scheme was a direct assault on our liberty, something too precious to be tossed aside, and something which this government is determined to restore. The government is committed to rolling back as much state interference as humanly possible, and the destruction of the register is only the beginning.’

Damian Green statement

Home Office minister Damian Green said: ‘Laying ID cards to rest demonstrates the government’s commitment to scale back the power of the state and restore civil liberties.

‘This is about people having trust in the government to know when it is necessary and appropriate for the state to hold and use personal data, and it is about the government placing their trust in the common-sense and responsible attitude of people.

‘This is just the first step in the process of restoring and maintaining our freedoms.’

The destruction of the NIR has been carried out within two months of Royal Assent of the Identity Documents Bill.

Around 500 hard disk drives and 100 back-up tapes containing the details of 15,000 holders have been magnetically wiped and shredded in line with Cabinet Office rules and will soon be incinerated.

ID cards can no longer be used by holders as a valid legal proof of identity or as a travel document in Europe.

Notes to editors

  1. ID cards were scrapped under the coalition government’s first Home Office Bill to pass through Parliament. The Identity Documents Bill received Royal Assent on 21 December 2010 and cards ceased to be valid legal documents on 22 January.

  2. Equipment holding the information on the National Identity Register has been magnetically wiped, and shredded in line with Cabinet Office rules and to NSA standards.

  3. Cancelling identity cards will save the taxpayer around £86m over the next four years once one-off costs like decommissioning costs, contract termination and asset write-offs are taken into account. Planned future investment set out in the Identity Card Cost Report 2009 of £835 million up to 2019 has been stopped.

  4. For images of the destruction of the National Identity Register contact the Home Office Press Office on 0207 035 3535.

Published 10 February 2011