Passport bodgery

19 May 2006

This first passport-related news item doesn’t strike me as particularly surprising, or even bad:

The Home Office faced fresh criticism yesterday after it emerged that 1,500 UK passports have gone missing in the post in the past two years.

The documents should have been returned by the passport service to their owners, but never reached them, said the Scottish nationalist MP Stewart Hosie.

Given that the UKPS deals with roughly six million passports a year, that means a loss rate of only 0.0125%. You know, that’s just about tolerable – no service is ever going to be perfect, and that’s pretty darn low.

However, much less reassuring is this second news item:

The Home Office faced fresh controversy last night after ministers were accused of accidentally repealing the law which makes it an offence to have a forged passport.

In an extraordinary development, it was claimed that Labour’s Identity Cards Act had repealed the existing laws before the new laws to replace them come into force.

One court case involving two men who were caught with forged passports has already had to be adjourned.

So while only 0.0125% of new passports face the risk of getting lost in the post, 100% of all passports now face the risk of getting forged with no legal sanction. It’s almost as if our lawmakers are having an incompetence contest with the Home Office’s bureaucrats. I think they’ve won on this count.

Expect the governmental response to this to be something like this: “What this mistake shows is that we need a mechanism where the executive can make and change laws arbitrarily without the need for Parliament, so that we can reverse these cockups swiftly (and more importantly, without anyone noticing). So back the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Remember – the only way to stop us from making more bad laws is to give us more power.”


2 Responses

In the UK, most of the forged or falsely obtained Passports or Driving Licences or ID cards used by organised criminals like drugs smugglers or human slave traffickers are Foreign not British ones.

See the Metropolitan Police Operation Maxim – over 93% of the forged or falsely obtained documents seized in 2004 were Foreign ones, which even a perfect UK Passport or ID card scheme will have no effect on at all.

“Metropolitan Police Operation Maxim and false foreign Identity Documents”

And one of those passports is mine, sent to me through SMS (the world’s worst courier, which is why of course UKPS use them) in summer 2004 and, according to SMS, delivered to the wrong flat. It took two months to get them to produce a replacement, during which time UKPS actually lied to me on the phone about a non-existent replacement being sent to me. They took zero responsibility whatsoever, needless to say…

And people wonder why I’m totally against ID cards.