The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to do more to encourage young people to carry ID when making age-restricted purchases. The call came as home secretary Jacqui Smith revealed the design for the first of a series of biometric ID cards which the government plans to roll out to all UK residents. The plastic cards, which will be issued to foreign citizens in Britain starting in November, carry a photograph and the individual’s fingerprints stored digitally. They will be compulsory for non-EU foreign citizens, but other residents will be able to carry the £30 cards if they wish. Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “This is good news for retailers, who of course want confidence to ask for proof of age knowing that customers will be carrying it.” However, he warned the cards would not make a difference in the short-term. “As the card is voluntary, and the timetable for rollout means that young people will not be routinely carrying the cards for some time, we cannot view ID cards as the solution to the problems we face around proof of age and all of the abuse, intimidation and violence that we know retailers face when challenging young people for this reason. “Separate from the rollout of ID cards, government can and should do more to encourage young people to carry and show ID when making age-restricted purchases,” he added. He added: “However, there is really no excuse for not having a strict No ID – No Sale policy in place and asking everyone who looks under the age of 21 for proof of age.” Last week identity minister Meg Hillier said the government was committed to its controversial scheme to introduce ID cards. “Despite what critics have tried to claim, the scheme continues to have popular support with 59% in favour and we are delivering on our commitment,” she said.

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