The British revealed today that, because of lax security, they issued 10,000 passports last year to bogus applicants, including at least two terrorists:
The Home Office today revealed that around 10,000 British passports were issued to false applicants last year, as it released details of new measures to combat identity fraud.
The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) received 16,500 fraudulent applications between October 2005 to September 2006, less than half of which were detected and thrown out, a minister admitted.
Around 6.6 million passports were issued in the UK over the same period, meaning 0.5 per cent of issues were false.
It has also emerged that two terrorists have been given UK passports.
Dhiren Barot pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder at Woolwich Crown Court in December and was sentenced to life with a recommendation that he serve 40 years. He had seven passports in his true identity and two further passports in fraudulent identities.
A second man, Moroccan national Salaheddine Benyaich, had two British passports in the name of a British citizen born in Brighton. The IPS said a face-to-face interview would have stopped his application. He is currently serving 18 years in Morocco for terrorist offences.
The scale of the problem was revealed as the Government attempts to dampen opposition to plans to force first-time claimants to attend face-to-face interviews before receiving their passport.
The above story shows the huge difference between percentages and actual numbers. A .05% failure rate is an extremely low failure rate percentage-wise. Ten thousand erroneously issued passports per year, however, is a horrific number, especially with realistic terrorist threats.
The British government does seem to be dealing with the problem, as noted above, although their chosen approach is very labor intensive:
First-time passport applicants aged over 16 will face a list of up to 200 personal questions when compulsory interviews are introduced later this spring.
Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly teenagers, will be grilled about their lives by a Government official in a dry run for the introduction of ID cards.
Under detailed plans published yesterday, people applying for their first adult passport must attend an “authentication by interview” at one of 69 centres around the country.
They will be expected to complete the usual passport application form before being called for what critics describe as “an interrogation”. This will involve a series of additional questions to establish their identity. Applicants will be asked about their ancestry, including the background of their parents, previous addresses, details about counter-signatories and other questions designed to establish a ”social footprint” of who they are.
Senior officials said the aim was to prevent fraudulent passport applications which lead to 10,000 documents each year being sent out to bogus claimants, including terrorists.
Since I don’t know what Brits currently have to do to get a passport, it’s impossible for me to tell if the new plan is reasonable, or completely over the top. Frankly, it would be interesting to learn how many false applicants slip through the American process. I do know that first time applicants cannot apply by mail, but have to go to a post office or a passport office, so they at least have to show their face.
As it is, considering the fact that many consider Britain to be Ground Zero for the Western end of radical Islam, I’m personally glad to see the government taking the problem serious and acting aggressively to deal with it.