This may be a matter for legislation before it can work, but the registry is badly in need of a unique identifier for officers (as there is for companies) to unify all the filings relating to each human. If you search, for example, for officers named as follows:
You will get at least 91 different identifiers for that name, nearly all at the same address in E18 and all born in July 1982. It makes it very hard to see the extent of one individual's directorships across the UK. If you make an assumption that someone born in the same year and month is the same person, then you get this record of 112 directorships past and present:
But it would be preferable not to make that assumption, particularly for more common names.
DOB as a differentiator
One could be more certain about identities before day-of-birth was removed from the public system, but still it wasn't an ideal identifier as there may be more than one John Smith/ Thomas Owen/ James Stuart born on a given day and matches in a given month are much more likely.
Address as a differentiator
Addresses are no longer a good differentiator because so many people now choose their corporate service address rather than residential address, and so many companies share the same address at a corporate secretarial firm. Also, addresses can take multiple formats with typos, so comparing them by machine requires an amount of fuzzy matching.
Names as identifiers
It may seem obvious, but people often give a different variation of their name, with or without a middle name, or using nicknames such as Tom rather than Thomas, or changing their name without stating former names on directorship forms, so matching them based on name is harder, even without the fact that there are other people who share the name. People who are looking to escape a history of directorships of insolvent companies may adopt such tactics, or just wait 6 years before UKCH removes them from view.
Passports or national IDs as identifiers
Passport numbers are generally unique and not recycled, although an individual will have more than one in her lifetime, so a disclosure of the previous passport numbers on each form would be needed. Not everyone has a passport though. Many if not most countries have a national ID or social security system with unique identifiers and these are generally assigned for life (except for government-sanctioned change of identity such as witness protection).
Corporate secretarial firms generally have a "Know Your Client" (KYC) obligation to gather such forms of identification when registering directors, so they should be able to use the passport or ID number in a public registry. Indeed many companies registries such as Hong Kong use the passport or ID number as an identifier and the public search system for those registries uses that.
I throw this out for discussion. Does anyone have a better solution to avoid duplicate identities and mistaken identities?