New legislation for England and Wales aimed at tackling the illegal use of specialist printing equipment has come into force.
The Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Act, which received Royal Assent on 27 March and becomes law in May, will make it an offence to supply specialist printing equipment with the knowledge that it will be used for criminal purposes. This could include the production of ID cards, passports, banknotes and tickets among other secured documents.
The act covers both equipment and consumables, which means that it will apply to hologram manufacturing equipment as well as the holograms themselves.
The investigation and prosecution of criminal activity will be more straightforward under the new legislation and anyone found guilty of breaking the law could be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
The move also brings England and Wales in line with Section 1028 of the US Crimes and Criminal Procedure Code, which outlaws similar activity in connection with ID documents, authorisation features and information.
The International Hologam Manufacturers Association (IHMA), the trade body that represents the global hologram industry, has welcomed the new legislation, which it described as a "significant" step forward in the battle to secure the production of genuine security devices such as holograms.
The IHMA is a member of the Metropolitan Police anti-counterfeiting group Project Genesius, which has provided advice to the UK Home Office in drafting the Act.
IHMA general secretary Ian Lancaster said: “The Act will be very welcome and has to be seen as a positive move to support governments and industry in their fight against crime and terrorism at a time when ID document forgery is on the rise.
“This will also benefit brand owners tackling the problem of counterfeiting because they will be reassured that they will be using holograms supplied from bona fide sources as part of brand protection strategies.
“Remember that criminal counterfeiters have no scruples about who they supply – ID counterfeiters or brand counterfeiters, it’s all the same to them.
“Holography continues to play a key role as a highly effective, extremely flexible weapon in the ongoing battle to thwart counterfeiters and fraudsters. All involved in the supply chain will be reassured by the presence of holograms on products and recognise the benefits they provide.”