THE brother of a baby whose identity was stolen by canoe conman John Darwin has welcomed a new registration system piloted in Sunderland.
Yesterday, the Echo revealed how Immigration Minister Damian Green had visited the city’s customer service centre, in Fawcett Street, as part of the Tell Us Once pilot.
The new scheme means information on birth and death registrations is shared across council and Government departments.
Alf Jones, 55, of Pallion, has been campaigning for the birth certificates of dead children to be marked to ensure they cannot be used fraudulently ever since Darwin stole the identity of his brother John Jones, who had died as a baby.
Darwin used a plot similar to the one in the Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal to steal John’s identity before faking his death at sea in an insurance scam that saw him jailed for more than six years.
He obtained a passport by using a birth certificate for John, who was born in Sunderland in 1950 but died aged just 34 days.
Alf today welcomed the news that the new system would share death registrations with identity and passport services.
“I’m over the moon,” he said. “Anything like that which will stop people doing what Darwin and others have done is a good thing.”
He added: “Families of deceased relatives will have no idea that someone is walking around with their loved one’s identity – and won’t find out until it all hits the fan.
“People don’t pick up on it. What people remember about the Darwin case is how much it upset his sons, or the money he scammed. They don’t think about us – we’re innocent victims.
“It’s really not very nice.”
But Mr Jones said while it was a step in the right direction, he is continuing his campaign to stop the selling of deceased children’s birth certificates to the general public – or to have them stamped to show the child has died.
He said: “The only reason anyone would want a copy of a dead child’s birth certificate is if they are up to no good. They’re no good to anyone – except if it’s for skulduggery.”
Sunderland City Council is a flagship authority for the new Tell Us Once service, which is now due to go live in every part of the country by the end of the year.
Mr Green said: “Civil registration plays a key part in everyone’s lives.
“We all come into contact with it and it provides a memorable, personal record that will be preserved for future generations.”