IDENTITY cards could be introduced across the North- East by the end of the year, it has been revealed.

Centres in Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Berwick, Northumberland would be fitted with biometric software to create biographical footprints, the Home Office has announced.

Meg Hillier, Home Office Minister, said: “I have asked the Identity and Passport Service to look at the feasibility of extending the roll-out of national identity cards to the North-East and Midlands later this year, because I am confident we can build on the successful launch of the scheme in London and the North-West.

“The public in these areas are already taking advantage of ID cards to prove and protect their identity in a quick, simple and secure way, as a proof of age and as a creditcard sized alternative to the passport when travelling in Europe. By the end of this week, we will have enrolled more than 10,000 people for an ID card.”

The Government has argued that voluntary identity cards, costing £30 each, will provide an easy and secure way for legal UK residents to prove who they are.

Human rights action group Liberty has strongly opposed the cards, and the national identity register.

A statement on the Liberty website said: “If completed, the register would be the world’s biggest biometric database, holding 52 pieces of information on every adult who remains in the UK for longer than three months.

“As well as being a waste of public money, the scheme will cost us, financially and in terms of our privacy.”