Forgery and Counterfeiting

The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981

The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 creates the following offences:

  • Forgery. This means creating a false instrument
  • Copying a false instrument
  • Using a false instrument
  • Using a copy of a false instrument

What is meant by a false instrument?

A false instrument is a document which the individual in control of it knows it to be false the intention of inducing another person into thinking that it is in fact a genuine instrument.

Further offences under the Act

The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 makes specific mention of certain kinds of documents which the following above offences and the following offence are specifically designed for:

To have custody or control over such instruments and manufacture, custody and control over equipment or materials to make them.

Section 5(5) of the Act then lists the documents for which this offence is made available for, as follows:

  • Money orders
  • Postal Orders
  • United Kingdom Postage Stamps
  • Inland Revenue Stamps
  • Share certificates
  • Passports and documents which can be used instead of passports
  • Cheques
  • Travellers Cheques
  • Cheque cards
  • Credit cards
  • Birth certificates, marriage certificates

Identity Cards Act 2006

The Identity Cards Act 2006 came into force on the 7 July 2006 and repeals Sections 5(5)(a) and 5(5)(f) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981  and replaced it with legislation concerning identity documents.

Section 25 Identity Cards Act 2006

Section 25 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 lists the following offences in relation to identity documents:

  • It is an offence to be in possession of false identity documents which he or knows or believes to be false
  • It is an offence to be in possession of a genuine identity document which has been improperly obtained or relates to another person.
  • For both of these offences to be established the person must have the document with the intention that it be used for identity fraud. –
  • It is an offence to be in possession of equipment which is designed or adapted for making false identity documents.

Prison sentencing guidelines  

For the above offences there is a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or a fine or both.

What is meant by Identity Documents?

Section 26 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 provides the following list as to what will be included within the definition of identity document:

  • An ID card
  • A designated document
  • An immigration document
  • A United Kingdom passport – within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971
  • A passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom or by or on behalf of an international organisation
  • A document that can be used (in some or all circumstances) instead of a passport
  • A UK driving licence
  • A driving licence issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom 

Statutory Defence against Section 25

Section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 has a statutory defence against Section 25 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 which is based on Article 31(1) of the Refugee Convention stating that it shall not apply when a refugee has come to the United Kingdom directly from a county where his life or freedom was threatened.