When you can suffer repeated identity thefts then a national identity database is a not only a good idea, it's the only way to defeat identity thieves.

Over the Christmas break I read about an unfortunate man who repeatedly is visited by bailiffs seeking to seize property to defray his debts and by banks wanting loans back and by local authorities wanting parking fines paid. But he is not responsible for any of this. Identity thieves are using his identity to fund their own lifestyles.

The police tell him it's not a crime to do this but a civil matter. This is outrageous and the first thing the government should do is to make identity theft a crime with severe penalties.

The second thing it should do is to set up the national identity card database system as fast as can be.

Why?

Put yourself in the place of a retail operation, any retail operation. A customer wants to buy something with a credit card. How do you know the customer is who they say they are? The credit card appears valid. The person has a driving licence in the same name with the right address. To what institution can you apply to check that their identity is real?

There isn't one, not a single, solitary one. Mr. Identity Thief, apparently but not really Rufus T. Victim, is in your shop with an apparently valid credit card and there is absolutely nothing you can do to let you discover that you are about to collude in that identity theft and make Mr. Rufus T. Victim's life miserable.

What you need to do is validate his claimed identity against a known valid record, a national identity card database. The electronic identity genie is out of he bottle. It can't be put back in again. The Government itself is losing identity information like there is no tomorrow.

The only way to validate someone's claimed identity is to check it against a single known valid database. There is simply no other way.

Tell me if there is...........

Silence was the only reply. Yes, this government, most governments are infantile illiterates at running large IT projects but they do get them right eventually. Yes, I have panned the government on this score. But, really, there is no avoiding the conclusion here. Only the government can do this thing, can drive it. Who else is going to do it? Google? Microsoft? Experian? Of course not. It's government territory.

The national identity card database is, it pains me to say, absolutely essential and must be implemented properly and fast. I do believe that it is the only way to defeat the scourge of identity theft that is probably coming our way.