Police Ask for Ban on Sale of PAYG SIMs to the Anonymous

By Gary Cutlack on at

The easy purchasing of PAYG mobiles and SIMs is making it way too easy for criminals to phone each other up and organise heists, bank robberies and so on, to such an extent that the police thinks the over-the-counter sale of casual connections without thorough ID checks beforehand ought to be banned.

That's not just the thinking of one rogue police officer who had an idea on his rounds, either, but the aggregate and official opinion of the entire membership of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary – an independent watchdog that monitors the effectiveness and efficiency of the English and Welsh police forces.

Its latest report [PDF] estimates that around 2,000 anonymous PAYG SIMs are currently in use around the UK solely as drug purchase hotlines, adding that even if rules to block a line are enacted – via a lengthy court order process under a drug dealing telecommunications restriction order – a replacement number can be up and running and have details broadcast to all of the old number's contacts inside the hour. Rendering it all a big waste of effort.

Hence the inspectorate thinks the government should examine the laws and either vastly speed up the drug use restriction order process, or treat the cause of the symptoms by ending the sale of SIMs without owner registration altogether. [HMICFRS via Guardian]