The Minister of State for Crime Prevention (Jeremy Browne): The police and the specialist printing equipment and materials industry have identified a rising trend in illegal document factories buying such goods in order to produce counterfeits of credit cards and government issued documents including passports and driving licences. This trend helps criminals to enter the country illegally, commit benefit fraud and evade criminal records checks. Not only do the public suffer from billions of pounds worth of fraud each year, but counterfeit documents also help criminals to avoid the law and safeguard their ill-gotten gains.
The government published a consultation on 2 March on preventing the supply of highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters. Today, we are publishing an analysis of the consultation responses and the government response. The consultation enabled us to evaluate evidence from suppliers of specialist printing equipment and materials to develop a proportionate and effective response to tackle this problem.
As a result of the consultation we are today also publishing guidance on voluntary procedures businesses can adopt to protect themselves from becoming victims of payment fraud and reduce their risk of inadvertently supplying specialist printing equipment and materials for use in criminal conduct. A copy of the government response and the guidance will be placed in the House Library.
We will also be supporting Charlie Elphicke MP’s Private Member’s Bill, the Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill, which seeks to make it a criminal offence to knowingly supply specialist printing equipment and materials for use in criminal conduct.