THOUSANDS of York children are being routinely fingerprinted by their schools, we reveal today.

And for what? So they can access the school library.

Talk about sleepwalking into a frightening future.

The Press has nothing against scientific progress and new technology. This city, after all, is at the forefront of much cutting-edge scientific and technological development.

But biometric scanning of children?

Yes, we all know how forgetful some children can be. A fingerprint is one library ticket that is never going to get lost, that's for sure.

But using such state-of-the-art surveillance and identification technology just so our children can get a book out at school or log on to a computer is surely going way over the top and to do so without parental consent is disturbing.

Human rights campaigners certainly believe so, claiming York children are being "conditioned" into thinking it is normal to divulge such information.

There may be arguments for adopting biometric ID cards for adults in the interests of better national security - although even there, many would not agree.

But for primary school children to be fingerprinted in this way seems distinctly sinister.

Big Brother is literally breathing down our necks.

Chris Bridge, head teacher of Huntington School - one of 11 in York which has used the biometric technology - says children are being prepared for a world in which terrorism is rife, and in which their privacy will be further invaded as they grow up.

There may be an element of truth in that. But how sad and frightening nevertheless that the innocence of childhood is being invaded in this way.