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Volume 691: debated on Friday 20 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether steps are being taken to eliminate the loss of United Kingdom passports delivered by Secure Mail Services, which reported 740 such losses during 2006. [HL2929]

The nature of the current arrangements made for the delivery of passports with Secure Mail Services allows the Identity and Passport Service to investigate the audit trail for each instance of loss. Where appropriate, procedures are improved following investigation.

Various technology and process improvement solutions are being considered to ensure that deliveries are made to the correct address as well as capturing data on delivery details at the time of delivery, thus ensuring a further reduction in losses by misposting. Further initiatives are also being prepared to reduce errors in the captive of address data from passport application forms.

To reduce losses by theft from couriers and their vehicles, courier routes are varied and additional security for vehicles, including double manning where required, is employed.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a new passport delivered by Secure Mail Services has to be handed to the person to whom it is addressed; and, if so, what checks are carried out to confirm the identity of that person prior to the passport being handed over to the person in question. [HL2930]

The current delivery arrangements for passports do not require that the passport be handed to the addressee. Most first-time deliveries are made without a signature being obtained, but where one is required it does not need to be that of the addressee.

Signatures are required for deliveries to certain postcodes where there is a known risk of loss or fraud. In other areas couriers will usually try to obtain a signature if someone is at home, but this is not mandatory. Where there are concerns on the part of the courier as to the security of the delivery due to, for example, a communal letterbox, then a signature is required.

Evidence of identity is required for a redelivery. While the addressee is not required to be present, the recipient of the package needs to provide evidence of the addressee's residence at the address, such as a utility bill or driving licence. Signatures are always required for redeliveries.

In delivering passports, the Identity and Passport Service attempts to balance the requirements for high levels of security, affordability/value for money and customer service. The current arrangements strike a balance between these demands and have seen an 80 per cent reduction in passport losses in the delivery process compared to the previous arrangements, which utilised first-class mail. The IPS continues to work closely with SMS to further reduce losses and improve quality of service.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a person who is found to have applied for or obtained a United Kingdom passport by fraud or under false pretences is prevented from obtaining a United Kingdom passport thereafter. [HL2931]

This depends on the circumstances of the fraud or false pretences. Prior criminal activity is not a bar to a British citizen holding a passport in their true identity, but a person who had falsified a claim to British citizenship would not be eligible for a British passport.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prosecutions have taken place in each of the last five years for offences relating to the obtaining of United Kingdom passports by false pretences; and in how many of these cases a conviction was secured. [HL2932]

The figures recorded by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) for the number of prosecutions known to have been made against individuals who have fraudulently applied for passports, and convictions secured as a result of those prosecutions, are given below.



















It should be noted that the IPS does not routinely receive feedback from the police or prosecution authorities on cases of passport fraud which are referred to them. The figures given above are therefore likely to be a significant under-representation of the number of prosecutions brought and convictions secured. The IPS is working with the police and prosecution authorities to develop a more effective feedback mechanism. The figures collated by the IPS prior to 2005 do not distinguish between successful and unsuccessful prosecutions.