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Passports: Fraud

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fraudulent passport applications were made in the last 12 months; and how many of those applications involved (a) identity theft and (b) false declarations where the individual was otherwise entitled to a passport. (171127)

Because of the nature of fraud it is only possible to estimate the number of fraudulent passport applications the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) receives.

During the period 31 October 2005 to 30 September 2006, a sample of several thousand applications were scrutinised by specialist IPS teams with support from fraud investigators. This found that 0.25 per cent. of applications (or 16,500 cases) were believed to be from people attempting to obtain a passport fraudulently when they were not entitled to them. In a further 1.61 per cent. of applications (or 105,000 cases) there was some element of false declaration on the part of passport applicants but the identity of these individuals and their eligibility for passport services was not otherwise in doubt.

It must be emphasised that these figures are an estimate and the result of one sampling exercise. IPS does, however, intend to undertake sampling of this type routinely and is currently engaged in a second exercise which is due to complete by April 2008.

It is because of this level of attempted fraud that IPS has introduced over recent years such measures as checking identity information against public and private sector databases and interviews for adult first time passport applicants.