Monday, November 12, 2012

Identity Crisis

Running around the high street in my attempts to open a bank account and deposit a cheque; one thing strikes me.

Everyone wants a photo ID with proof of address. The Prison Service spent decades numbering, photographing and generally attributing numbers and pictures to me. They then took all of their ID's back on my discharge.

The solution to most of the current problems I am facing is to issue every discharged prisoner with a photo ID as he leaves the gate. Substitute "HM Prison Service" with "Ministry of Justice" on the top and we can all swan off into our new existence with sufficient proof of identity to begin to rebuild our lives.

It would cost pennies. And would mean I'm not sitting in the shed looking for loose change on a wet Monday.

Sounds like a good idea...?


  1. No,why should all tax payers pay for your indiscretions again on your discharge.Your turn to live in the real world with all the issues of being free.Time to think for yourself-if indeed you can.

    1. Your obvious chagrin regarding Bens progression is really quite refreshing!

    2. It's got nothing to do with his 'indiscretions', has it? If a lot of ex-cons have similar struggles with documentation, but without the support that Ben's received, it's not hard to understand why they slip back into their former patterns of behaviour.

      I'd rather a few pence of 'my' tax money went on a piece of photo ID for an ex-con, than the associated costs of another trial and custodial sentence.

    3. @Anon, that is truly a pathetic attitude. This difficulty is created by the system that incarcerated me grabbing back all of the ID it had insisted I carry for their benefit.

      They cause this problem; I don't see why they shouldn't solve it. And if you were not so short sighted you may consider how many ex cons give up in the face of these problems and decide to return to crime? If spending a few pence reduces future victims, surely a good thing.

      And PS, it was thinking for myself that caused so many problems for my keepers over the years. I am extremely capable of doing it. The observant will note that the only problems I have had since release have been those where I have to rely on someone else to resolve a problem - Benefits agency, banks - whereas the stuff within my control is going really well.

    4. "The observant will note that the only problems I have had since release have been those where I have to rely on someone else to resolve a problem - Benefits agency, banks -whereas the stuff within my control is going really well."

      That's the Social Model of Disability in a nutshell, Ben. I swear I see more parallels with prisoner / ex-con status and being disabled, every time you write.

  2. Would ex-cons use their MoJ card, or would it be more a problem to them? It can be a real pain trying to gather up enough evidence to satisfy some organisations because they disallow things one can get fairly quickly such as a birth certificate. Recent utility bills or tax statements take time to accumulate. Part of the ID process seems to be not just establishing your name, address, date of birth, but to show that you are a reliable person. In light of the banks' history might we insist on a two-way exchange of such information?

  3. For a couple of years after I came out, I used a building society instant access account as my current account. I found no trouble opening it or having my wages paid directly to the account, and it paid a small bit of interest. There was no chequebook or card, I had to get cheques by visiting my branch, but I considered this a good way to avoid spending too much money.

  4. Ben, you could point out to whoever wants photo id of you, that there is no legal requierment in the UK to have photo ID. I don't have a passport, as i don't like flying, my driving licence is so old, (one of the pink ones) that doesn't have photo id. Somehow, i do have my old prison id card. I have the same hassel when i go on a prison visit. I do bring utility bills etc. I hate this big brother world we live in, and there is something i read about, about 15 years ago, about facemapping. THey scan your photo when you apply for a passport/driving licence etc, and you are in the data base. Then, the CCTV cameras in any town or where ever you are, can identify you from just the distance between all your features. Funded by Marks and Spencer and British aerospace and another company, who's name escapes me. (read in in Schnews). So think very carefully before you get any photo I.D.

  5. It is now harder than ever to get proof of id because if you bank and pay your utility bills on line you have no paperwork to take as proof of address!


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