back to article Biometric harvest network can handle just 700k a year

Home Sec Alan Johnson gave another insight into how big a trickle of applications for ID cards the government expects when he revealed the full extent of its biometric enrolment network yesterday. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling had asked "how many biometric enrolment centres are in operation; where they are located; how …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Is it me?

    The post office is tendering...

    Bit of a no brainer really, and you wouldn't really want anyone else to do it. The Post Office has by far the greatest reach across the UK, and you could manage it in a single contract. No other organisation has this reach. I suspect that all of the hallowed 5 integrators would have suggested the Post Office, and politically it helps to preserve the network. You have to have biometric registration points within easy reach of all citizens, which counts out supermarket chains and banks, none of which have an even distribution, even within a region.

    I suppose Public Libraries, Camelot and Pay Point are the only other organisations with a branch network that could cope, though here there's a substantial overlap with Post Offices.

    BTW. The biometric enrolment process has to be monitored by humans to discourage fraud.

    1. Neil 23

      More Post Offices than supermarkets?

      Not in London - I have to walk past 7 different supermarkets (belonging to 5 different chains) before I get to a Post Office...

      1. Adam Salisbury

        Well of course

        But what do you think the ratio is in somewhere like Shepton Mallet for example?

        1. Jimmy Floyd

          Near Glastonbury

          The ratio in Shepton Mallet? Why, it's around 50:1 new-age hippies to 'others' (ironically less around festival time!).

    2. Big_Ted
      Thumb Down

      What Network ?

      Unless the equipement can be fitted into small sub postoffices then coverage is only the cities and large towns as only they have main post offices.

      Who is going to pay for all the people who live miles away to get to one, especially older people without their own transport.

      This whole ID thing is a massive waste of money. OK biometrics on passports I can see as useful for many reasons but why should I need to carry a card when I never travel abroad ?

      Might as well put a chip in everyone like they do dogs etc and be done with it.

      Big Brother will finally get his way......

    3. NogginTheNog

      Yeah but...

      The PO (or PO Counters as it possibly is doing the tendering?) have to balance the business case with the possible PR backlash if they're seen as tentacles of an unpopular ID grab!

      Unsure of how the wider public currently view this who fuck-up (we know how Reg readers do!), but I can't see a spooky photo-cum-fingerprinting booth taking up space in the village PO being very welcome...

      1. Mike Richards

        Post Offices

        Where are they going to put the biometric enrollment facility? Replace the passport photo machine or get rid of the shelves holding all the cigarettes?

      2. hplasm Silver badge

        Photo-Cum-Fingerprinting Booth?

        Is that what they call Triple Play?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE:Photo-Cum-Fingerprinting Booth ?

          Great potentials for synergies. You could harvest even more biometrics. But the photos might become unsuitably for children.

          So rather stop it.

          Think of the children!

    4. Anonymous John

      Yes but

      most are staffed by only one person, in a small partitioned off area in convenience stores. The larger ones have a permanent long queue. They don't eve have enough staff to keep all the positions open.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      or is it me, warped 'n all

      what about the BLVA?

      that's the British Licencsed Victualler's Association to you and i.

      at least they used to have an extensive netweork of "branches" before this last shower of shit ( Blair, Brown et al ) got to work

      would at least make the taking of yer dabs 'n pupils ( dilated of course ) interesting.

      Icon? hope it's beer and not heavily taxed Cider.

    6. Alan Firminger



    7. Trygve


      Whenever I've gone into a post office lately they are only interested in selling me broadband, insurance, mobile phone topups and bank accounts. It normally takes several minutes to persuade the pillock behind the glass that all I want to do is post something at the cheapest possible rate.

      Then it takes another few minutes of arguing before they 'remember' what the lowest cost option is (no, not First Class, Standard Parcel, thankyouverymuch). I can't imagine how crap they would be if they were allowed near the biometric turdfest, and how much crap they'd sign you up for if they got access to all your details.

      Thank god for Parcel2go, Interparcel and the rest, who will hopefully put the buggers out of business. Ditto for the incompetent posties who keep deliving all my post to the same housenumber three streets away, and delivering their post to me in exchange.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    RE: The post office is tendering...

    'you wouldn't really want anyone else to do it.'

    No, I and a large proportion of the population don't want anybody to do it. How about we just scrap the whole thing. Why do the government need retina scans, dna, blood type etc and before anybody starts with 'they don't take that much info' I suggest you look into the small print.

    They may not be demanding it now, but if you have applied for an I.D. card you have made yourself legally responsible to provide any information they want whenever they change the criteria. If at some future date they demand a lock of hair, blood, urine, saliva, intestinal scraping or anything else they can think of, you have to give it to them without question or find yourself subject to a large fine and/or a prison sentence. There is no get out clause - the I.D. card is for your whole life

  3. Anonymous Coward

    If it wasn't for this one issue

    I'd be minded to vote this lot back in. Anything's better than that braying bunch of tossers on the other side.

    1. Adam Salisbury

      Pretty much sums it up....

      This year's election you have a choice of voting Big Brother or Braying Wanker, or as South Park so eloquently put it, a Douchebag vs. a Turd Sandwich

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        I don't get it! Does nobody fancy a hung Parliament?

        It might cost a bit for the rope, but it would be worth it!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          cost of rope for hanging parliament

          The rope could be easily finance by selling the exclusive right of the event to a tv station.

          But afterwards nobody would want in parliament anymore, and we would fall back into monarchy.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Does nobody fancy a hung Parliament?

          Please, Please.........

          I'll go with that supply own rope!!!!

        3. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

          Dear Mr Hplasm

          I would like to purchase a lease on your last comment. I trust 10% of any monies received as a direct result of any use of your comment, along with full credit, would be acceptable?

          I also enclose invoice for cleaning spluttered coffee from my keyboard, monitor, and boss's suit.

          Kind Regards,

          IP Bitte

    2. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

      You can tell the difference?

      Seriously, when I see a politician on TV these days, I often have to wait for the little label thing at the bottom to tell me which bunch of lying, deceptive, self-serving, grasping, egotistical, maniacal bottom-feeders they belong to. And I do, of course, say that with the greatest of respect to our "dear leaders".

  4. Harry

    So Why Not ...

    Firstly, even if the PO gets the contract, I'm not convinced that "34 biometric enrolment offices across the UK" means you'll be able to go to any post office. That would surely just mean that they identify one in each of the 34 prescribed areas, and you can go to any one of those 34.

    But on the assumption that I'm wrong and that the 34 refers to just processing centres rather than access points ...

    "I suppose Public Libraries, Camelot and Pay Point are the only other organisations with a branch network that could cope"

    It seems to me that the optimum would be to licence several or perhaps even all of these as long as they could provide the necessary service -- giving users the advantage of competition and the possibility that the plural organisations might actually compete, both on price and providing a decent service.

    The post office, for example, isn't generally noted for its absence of queues -- at least in the main offices -- so would have to compete vigorously on price to stand a chance of getting any custom.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Doctor's surgeries?

    Cervical smear and new ID card with only one swab.

    / Mine's not the white coat

  6. _LJ_


    It's apparently in my sleepy little home town - the PO in Stamford, Lincs.

    How bizarre.

  7. James Pickett



    Perfect! Read the DNA and thumbprints of all those paying the idiot tax and you’ve automatically got the details of the only people who wouldn’t object. They have to roll out new terminals soon anyway... :-)

  8. AListair 6

    Given that edinburgh is further west than cardiff

    i Doubt it's the most westerly branch

    /pub quiz knoledge

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Hoist by their own petard

    Big businesses hated the post office, and have done everything in their power to get successive governments to run the operation into the ground (what, you thought all those Tesco expresses were an accident ?).

    Having done their masters bidding, and emasculated the PO network, the muppets have now woken up to the fact that there just isn't the infrastructure to handle this project.

    And if you think Tesco will offer to let their Express stores be ID centres as a "thank you", you're Jacqui Smith. No commercial venture would touch the thing with a bargepole (unless sweetened with loads of wonga. And I can't see the government spending even more on ID cards)

    1. blackworx


      No it isn't

      1. Kevin Johnston

        or then again

        According to a simple search it would appear he is correct:

        Cardiff long: -3.17350006103

        Edinburgh long -3.3500

        Makes it west of Cardiff.....possibly confused due to UK normally being shown on the skew rather than aligned North-South

        1. blackworx

          Too close to call?

          WGS84 coordinates:

          Edinburgh 3°9′37″W (i.e. -3.16)

          Cardiff 3°11′12″W (i.e. -3.19)

          Unless I'm being a complete idiot (and there's every possibility I am) then that means Cardiff is further west than Edinburgh.

          Considering how close they are, might the system used swing it either way? Dunno - it's a long time since my days as a survey tech.

          Please insert obligatory "I love it when the comments thread for a Big Brother article on the Reg turns into a geographical knowledge pissing contest" comment below.

          1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

            "The Title is Too Long"

            "I love it when the comments thread for a Big Brother article on the Reg turns into a geographical knowledge pissing contest"

            However, that in itself gives me an idea.

            Dissolve Parliament.

            Run the country by the El Reg Comments Threads.

            (@ Sarah: sorry for any nightmares that concept might give you. You can be "Speaker".)

            1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: "The Title is Too Long"

              Can I? Oh, you're too kind.

              I keep cyanide capsules in my desk in case that day ever comes.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Noo, that's only half the story

              The other half is in selling shares of the commentur^Wvaluable opinions offered on the run-the-country stock exchange. And then add lobbyist derivatives, and leverage, and lloyds brokering insurance on the thing.

              Actually, I'm fairly fond of the idea, just to give that extra swing to ``putting your money where your mouth is''. Or someone else's.

  10. druck Silver badge

    Close your local Post Office

    If the Post Office gets in on the Orwellian nightmare business, I'll be campaigning to have our local one closed again.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Post office - No fear of any increase there

    If most offices are like my main post office there will be 12 counters wtih only 4 open at any one time

    They can't keep up with post customers the majority of the time nevermind anything complex.

  12. Jan 0
    Big Brother

    "the easternmost outpost appears to be London City Airport"

    Last time I looked, there appeared to be one opposite where the HMSO office was in Norwich, on the other side of the ring road. Surely that's further east.

    City Airport Longitude: 0° 3' 15" E

    Norwich 01°18' E

  13. Steve 125

    Question from an ignorant colonist...

    Here in the US, the Department of Motor Vehicles issues drivers licenses and ID cards (for those who do not drive). The driver licenses/IDs must be renewed periodically. To renew you need to produce passport, birth certificate, etc to prove who you are.

    Why not use the British equivalent of the DMV to issue the ID? This suggestion is probably laughable, but, as I said in the title...

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    So you have super secure quadruple AES 4096bit encrypted unforgeable biometric ID cards .

    And the gateway into this system is the 'local' person behind the counter at the postoffice confirming my identity doing an iris scan.

    So a bunch of locals going into their local sub-postoffice on say, the Falls road, and all getting ID cards in the name of J smith isn't going to be a problem?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Might as well put a chip in everyone"

    Yes but if they do that, surely everyone will be hyperactive for a little while and then disappear off the face of the earth?

    I believe it's called the Kevin Winnick effect, or something not too unlike that.

    There used to be lots of coverage of him on El Reg, almost as much of him as there was of IPTv.

    Where ate they now?

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Your post master/mistress. A ruthless interrogator

    Who can smell when your lying.

    Want to bet?

    34 centres. Bet a few of them could be cut (most if Conservatives get in?)

    Thumbs up. Who would like to see this reduced *even* further.

    1. Sooty

      that would be the DVLA

      the same organisation that will sell all your personal information, to anyone who asks, for a packet of fags.

      They are just the sort of people who i wan't having all my biometric details

      1. Paul 4

        The DVLA

        Have already said they don't want it, and they don't want anything to do with it. Basicly they want to be able to keep all thair data themselfs and not give it to any other department, unless they pay. On the plus side that dose meen that they tend to resist mission creep.

    2. mmiied

      obvious realy

      cos it sucks

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      DMV equivalent

      That would either be the DVLA Local Offices (all 39 of them, all in big cities, see, or the Post Office. Just looking at the US, California on it's own has more DMV offices that the UK has DVLA Local Offices.

      We do most of our driving license work by post, the Internet or in the Post Office. And unlike you, our license lasts from when we pass our test to 70. Identity is confirmed by having an influential person (doctor, MP, business owner) vouching for the identity only once when the provisional license is first issued. I believe that there is a requirement to apply for a new photo card every 10 years, but that is done just by sending a new photograph by post.

      Even the old-style passport (the non-biometric ones) were done the same way. This is why it is such an outrage (to us) that the new passport or ID card requires visiting such a centre.

      Having mentioned California, it's obvious why I've used the Terminator icon!

  17. Nigel 11


    With thousands of ID issuing stations all over the UK, what's the probability that at least one will end up being run by organised crime to issue bogus IDs to people who shouldn't be in the country? Or worse still, to people who would like to "prove" that the are other people?

    I'd say about 90%. The other 10% is that they find some other way to beat the system.

    I will not be voting Labour. I just hope that the other lot keep thir word to kill this insane scheme.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No id card...

    and no passport ?

    Not much chance of a job in the [near] future then...

  19. Anonymous Coward

    I know another national network

    Everyone is supposed to be within reach of doctors 'n' stuff. It could be part of the brilliantly successful new IT system that the NHS has got so cheaply!

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      And the NHS... just sooooo god at identifying people allowed treatment that they can be trusted to confirm identity!

      I've seen my GP once in 10 years. I'm sure that he would recognize me again. Oh yes.

  20. Ascylto


    Thanks to an El Reg'er I applied online for 5 Application Packs for ID Cards. Using the postage paid envelopes I have sent one to Meg Hillier, my local Labour MP and others (making sure to fill in their names so they can't re-use the forms).

    In the one to my Labour MP I've told him this is the ONE issue which has lost him my vote.

    Corrupt they may be but their black hearts are even worse. As C S Lewis once said ...

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Post Office et al...

    PAh they cant even get the checks on passports right so i wouldn't trust them to do biometric measurements with accuracy or any skill.

    Also you can't rely on them as they are often only single staffed in the further reaches and to prevent fraud you need to have at least 2 people in the process chain otherwise it will just be a waste of time as they and will have some dodgey cards go through.

    Honestly i would rather it stuck at the passport offices as if anyone needs a new passport they have to go there anyway. maybe include DVLA offices at worst but as the network grows so does the chance of dodgey cards getting through and also the chance of titups increases drastically as well.

    There is no need to think along these lines anyway until demand increase's.

    And don't even jest about sticking it in with the NHS botchjob IT setup... pish up, brewery....

    PS i don't know where you got your facts from but there are not that many places taking on applicants at the minute. The facts in this article are far from correct. possibly dodgey at the source of misinfo...

  22. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    needs a high-tech approach

    I think the enrollment machines should be roughly robot-shaped, with at least a swiveling head and glowing red eyes. It should have one of those low-powered sweeping lasers they use with fog machines to spice up music videos. Give it some motion detection capabilities so they can track and sweep punters as they pass by and (obviously) a metallic-sounding voice circuit and a limited repertoire of phrases like "lifeform detected", "halt! please submit to scanning!", "anomaly detected", "uploading scan", "please remember to report suspicious individuals", "be pure, be vigilant, behave!" and the like.

    The great thing about going about it like this is that the original machines could be no more than toys, just randomly going through their repertoires. Then, once the public has gotten used to the idiocy of the machines, TPTB could begin to gradually and covertly upgrade their capabilities so that they actually do the biometric scanning that the earlier models were only pretending to do. By that stage, anyone who had any clue about what was really going on and tried to warn anybody would be treated with derision, because obviously everyone would "know" that the machines were nothing more than electronic scarecrows only designed to scare away terrorists, paedos and illegal immigrants and instill a false, but reassuring, sense of security in the general populace.

    In stage three, the machines could be upgraded to listen in to gossip at the local post office, supermarket, etc., to identify any troublemakers who may have cottoned on to the plan. Then the controllers could use the machines for more direct psyops, suggesting to neighbours that such-and-such a person seems to be behaving strangely this week and wondering if they have something to hide and so on. By then end of stage three, all the tin-foil hat brigade would either be driven insane by the whispering campaign or have fled the country.

    Bringing us finally to stage four... a techno-utopian panopticon, where nobody has anything to fear because there is finally nothing left to hide.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes well

    Can't be too careful filling up that nice and supposedly ``clean'' database, no?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019