Me and my passports
Serious questions have been raised over Britain's border security after a BBC journalist entered the UK twice on fake and stolen passports.

Shahida Tulaganova obtained 20 illegal passports - each from an EU country, including the UK - within months.

Those in the trade told her to travel via sea or bus, saying port security was less stringent than airports.

BBC News, 1 December 2006

Suspect Nation
... Meanwhile, the chips that will go into ID cards and into our passports contain information that can easily be obtained, and potentially duplicated, by outside sources. Porter argues that in the not too distant future terrorists will be able to furnish themselves with the perfect alibi and hiding place. They will be able to take the data from the chips we will all be required to carry, and become us.

Channel 4/More 4, 20 November 2006

Cracked it!
Three million Britons have been issued with the new hi-tech passport, designed to frustrate terrorists and fraudsters. So why did Steve Boggan and a friendly computer expert find it so easy to break the security codes?

The Guardian, 17 November 2006

Hackers Clone E-Passports
A German computer security consultant has shown that he can clone the electronic passports that the United States and other countries are beginning to distribute this year.

The controversial e-passports contain radio frequency ID, or RFID, chips that the U.S. State Department and others say will help thwart document forgery.

But Lukas Grunwald, a security consultant with DN-Systems in Germany and an RFID expert, says the data in the chips is easy to copy. "The whole passport design is totally brain damaged," Grunwald says. "From my point of view all of these RFID passports are a huge waste of money. They're not increasing security at all."

Wired News, 3 August 2006

Immigration service to track all UK visitors
Everyone travelling to and from Britain will be counted in and out under a new crackdown on immigration, the home secretary, John Reid, announced today, although the system won't be in place until 2014.

The scheme is part of an overhaul of the scandal-hit immigration service and includes plans for the automatic deportation of foreign prisoners ...

"We will extend exit controls in stages based on risk, identify who overstays and count everyone in and out, while avoiding delays to travellers, by 2014," he said.

He also unveiled new targets for dealing with asylum cases, with a pledge to tackle 90% of cases within six months by 2011, and a series of interim targets ...

The measures come after Mr Reid's predecessor, Charles Clarke, was forced out of office in May over the system's failure to consider more than 1,000 foreign criminals for deportation.

Since then, the immigration system has been hit by a number of other embarrassing revelations, including the news that five illegal immigrants had turned up to work as cleaners at the IND offices and allegations of "sex for asylum" deals at an immigration processing centre.

Shortly after his appointment, Mr Reid admitted that the immigration system was "not fit for purpose" and had inadequate leadership.

This came after Dave Roberts, the director of enforcement and removals at the IND, told the home affairs select committee he did not have "the faintest idea" how many illegal immigrants were in Britain.

On Sunday, the committee said the immigration system was "clearly inadequate".

The Liberal Democrats criticised the government's delay in tackling the problems and questioned whether Mr Reid's proposals would provide a solution.

The party's home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, said: "It beggars belief that the government has taken nearly 10 years to sort out the administrative mess of our immigration system.

The Guardian, 25 July 2006

Passport cost to increase by 29%
The fee for a new adult 10-year passport is to increase by 29% from October, from £51 to £66.

The Home Office said the new passport - dubbed the ePassport - would be the "most secure ever produced by the UK".

The "biometric" passport contains a chip storing a scan of their photograph and other personal details.

BBC News, 24 July 2006

Hundreds of corruption inquiries at Immigration
More than 700 charges of corruption were levelled against Home Office immigration staff in one year, an investigation by MPs has found.

The shocking figure emerges today in a damning report by an all-party committee, which concludes that the enforcement of immigration law is "clearly inadequate" ...

When an inquiry into one set of allegations found that staff had engaged in "unprofessional behaviour towards applicants", Tony McNulty, the then immigration minister, dismissed the episodes as "isolated incidents".

Yet the Commons home affairs select committee report shows that 703 allegations were referred to the IND security and anti-corruption unit in 2004/5, of which 409 were investigated.

A further 169 cases were sent to a second watchdog, the Immigration Service operational integrity unit, of which 120 were pursued. As a result, 31 employees have been referred for prosecution and 79 for disciplinary action. Hundreds of cases are still under investigation ...

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "As recently as January, the Home Office was describing corruption in visa and immigration control as 'isolated incidents' yet 700 allegations among 15,000 staff is anything but isolated. It implies a fundamental problem at the heart of the immigration service."

The Daily Telegraph, 22 July 2007

Online passport applications halted
5,000 people are kept waiting after an internet system broke down just three weeks after its launch.

A BACKLOG of 5,000 passport applications has built up after serious problems developed with a computer system only weeks after the inception of a new online service.

The Home Office agency in charge of issuing the travel documents has now withdrawn the online application service because of mounting difficulties in issuing passports.

The Times, 11 July 2006

Warning of security holes in UK borders
Britain’s borders are open to drug smugglers, criminal gangs and terrorists because there are too few officials to man customs desks at ports and airports, the Home Secretary was warned today.

The Times, 19 June 2006

Your documents are forged . . . but you will still get a number
440,000 immigrants got NI numbers last year, but just 2,000 applicants were properly checked ...

The duty on Jobcentres to hand over an NI number if an illegal migrant is working “really does not make sense”, an official at the Department for Work and Pensions admitted privately ...

Six years ago Lord Grabiner, QC, urged the Government to tighten up procedures for issuing national insurance numbers ...

“Applicant in employment and has falsified a genuine immigration document. Where Department of Work Pensions is satisfied as to the individual’s identity, a NINO (national insurance number) would be issued in this situation even if we have suspicions around his immigration status.”

The Times, 1 June 2006

Too many passports missing - Reid
Every single one of the 1,500 passports which has gone missing since 2004 is a cause for concern, John Reid has said.

BBC News, 18 May 2006

Revealed: The cash-for-fake-ID scandal at the heart of the Government
Civil servants have sold the personal details of hundreds of thousands of people to criminal gangs Civil servants have sold the personal details of hundreds of thousands of people to criminal gangs ...

The Independent, 14 May 2006

Passport interviews to be compulsory for all
Face-to-face interviews lasting up to 20 minutes are to be compulsory for all passport applicants, even for renewals, a measure that will dramatically increase the time it takes to get a new passport.

The Times, 3 May 2006

Passport gangs 'out of control'
Organised immigration crime in London, particularly fake passport and identity scams, is out of control, senior police officers said.

They estimate that the city is home to as many as 170 criminal gangs from 22 ethnic groups.

Superintendent Bob Murrill, head of Operation Maxim, an initiative by the Metropolitan Police, the Immigration Service, the UK Passport Service and the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “It is out of control. Politicians, society and law enforcement in general need to wake up to exactly what is happening.” Maxim officers carried out nearly 100 operations and made more than 150 arrests in 2004.

Most cases involved identity document fraud. Tarique Ghaffur, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: “There is a danger of us getting into a spiral of decline.”

The Times, 26 April 2006

Trouble and cost of visas halts Hallé's US tour
One of Britain's leading symphony orchestras has been forced to scrap an American tour, partly because of the "mind-blowing palaver" and cost of securing visas for 100 players and staff.

The Manchester-based Hallé had been due to visit the US next year for two concerts, including one at the Lincoln centre in New York, the country's principal classical music venue. But managers said yesterday they had cancelled the tour when they realised that the cost of arranging the visas, estimated at £45,000, would render the trip uneconomic.

The Guardian, 30 March 2006

Russia busts fake Kremlin ID gang
Russian security agents have arrested a group of policemen and civilians suspected of forging Kremlin passes. The items seized included identity cards guaranteeing entry to President Vladimir Putin's offices, the FSB security service said. Kremlin notepaper carrying Mr Putin's forged signature and number plates for police cars and government vehicles were also found in the operation. Sets of the illegal documents were reportedly being sold for large sums. According to security officials, some of the items were being sold at a car market in the south of Moscow, with packs of illegal documents fetching up to $200,000 (£115,000).

BBC News, 6 December 2005

Technical problems for Dutch biometric passport
A study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has raised fresh concerns over a number of technical issues related to the issuance of biometric passports.

European Biometrics Portal, 20 September 2005

Passport cost to rise 50 per cent
The cost of a passport could rise from £42 to more than £60 next year to finance the introduction of biometric passports.

The Times, 3 September 2005

452 forged passports uncovered
A Briton carrying fake passports has been arrested in Thailand, the Foreign Office said yesterday.

Mahieddine Daikh, 35, who was born in Algeria but said that he became a British citizen two years ago, was stopped at Bangkok airport on Tuesday with 452 forged documents, officials said. He was found in possession of bogus French, Spanish, Portuguese and Belgian passports, which he is believed to have planned to sell in London ...

Mr Daikh, who had been living in London for about seven years, said that he was to be paid £15,000 to act as a courier. He said that he was hired by someone in London but did not elaborate.

The passports were bought from an unidentified Pakistani for £3,000 on the island of Samui, south of Bangkok, he told police.

The Times, 4 August 2005

ID card scheme will double cost of passport
The cost of a passport will more than double to £93 when compulsory ID cards are introduced from 2007, according to a new government estimate.

Home Office documents confirmed the previous best guess of £88 had not included VAT and other extras.

The Times, 25 May 2005

Staff given just 11 minutes to check visa applications
PROPER scrutiny of visa applications is being sacrificed to meet a government target that officials must process one case every 11 minutes, according to a watchdog report published today ...

The Commons Public Accounts Committee blames the Home Office for allowing 7,000 unskilled Bulgarians and Romanians to enter Britain on visas meant for entrepreneurs.

The row over the Bulgarians and Romanians led to the resignation of Beverley Hughes, the Immigration Minister, last April. Applicants including a one-legged “roofer” and failed asylum-seekers were granted entry as self-employed businessmen, despite advice from embassy staff that they should be turned away.

The Times, 1 March 2005

Asylum group loses lottery funds in fake ID probe
LOTTERY chiefs have frozen their grant to a charity for refugees and asylum seekers after allegations that it had offered advice on how to obtain false identity documents ...

According to the BBC, the head of the charity allegedly told the reporter: “This man can help you get a job and he can help you get documents,” before handing over contact details and quoting a price of £1,000 for a fake passport.

The Sunday Times, 27 February 2005

Lithuanian gangs forge ahead in Britain
CRIME gangs from Lithuania are flooding Europe with expertly forged euros and high-quality counterfeit passports and financial documents.

The Times, 21 February 2005

Interpol concern over UK borders
The head of Interpol has told of his "surprise" at shortcomings in the passport controls at UK borders.

BBC News, 1 December 2004

Britons face US passport deadline
All Britons travelling to the US without visas now need machine-readable passports under newly-introduced rules.

Almost all British passports issued since 1991 are machine-readable, indicated by two lines of coded data at the bottom of the photo page.

BBC News, 29 October 2004

Passport restriction for US visits eased
THE US Government has retreated from immediately imposing tough new passport rules on UK citizens travelling to America.

The Home Office warned US-bound travellers that from yesterday they must have a machine-readable passport or visa to enter the country.

The Times, 27 October 2004

Doubts over passport face scans
Serious doubts are being raised about a new secure identity system being incorporated into new UK passports from the end of 2005.

BBC News, 21 October 2004

Border surveillance plan unveiled
The government is spending millions of pounds to keep a record of passengers travelling to and from the UK.

BBC News, 29 September 2004

Passport price may double to £80 for only five years
THE validity of passports could be cut from ten to five years and the costs could soar to £80 under government plans to improve the security of the travel document.

The Times, 10 April 2004

‘Perfect’ fake passports flood into Britain
A NEW generation of near- perfect copies of European passports is flooding into Britain and being sold on the black market for knock-down prices, a Sunday Times investigation has revealed.

The Times, 29 February 2004

Jail for passport 'factory' pair
A Romanian couple have been jailed for a total of more than nine years for running a multi-million pound fake passport and credit card "factory".

Forged documents worth more than £5m were found at a house in Croydon during an immigration raid in June last year.

They included 1,335 fake passports and ID cards and 2,000 credit cards.

BBC News, 27 February 2004

Husband flies with wife's passport
A businessman who accidentally flew to Italy and back using his wife's passport has said he is amazed he was able to pass through airport security ... her passport was checked several times by airport staff, and twice by UK and Italian immigration.

BBC News, 17 February 2004

Fake passport haul worth £1m seized
A WORKSHOP producing fake passports has been found in the home of a failed asylum-seeker by detectives investigating networks of identity thieves.

The Times, 17 January 2004

Has the Jackal passport scam had its day?
The bestselling thriller The Day of the Jackal shockingly revealed how crooks used the birth certificates of dead babies to obtain fake passports. Almost 32 years on, the loophole is being plugged... maybe.

BBC News, 15 September 2003

U.S. demands biometric passports; world may not be ready
Biometric technology that scans faces, fingerprints or other physical characteristics to confirm people's identities is about to get its biggest, most public test: at U.S. border checkpoints. Yet significant questions loom about whether the U.S. and foreign governments can meet an Oct. 26, 2004, deadline set by Congress for upgrading passports and visas to include biometrics.

"This is the mother of all projects — there's no question about it," said Joseph Atick, chief of Identix, a maker of biometric systems.

With fingerprint and face scanners due to be in place at air and sea ports by the end of this year and biometric visas and passports beginning to get into the hands of travelers next year, U.S. officials hope to keep the wrong people out while letting the right people in without delay.

USA Today, 24 August 2003

Two jailed over immigration ring
Two men have been jailed for a total of six years for their part in a major illegal immigration ring on the south coast.

In February, National Crime Squad (NCS) officers discovered a forgery factory at the men's home in Bournemouth, Dorset, and recovered around 300 items, including 38 false passports from seven different countries.

BBC News, 19 May 2003

Raid on 'forgery factory'
Police in Dorset and Devon are confident they have disrupted a major immigration operation which may have smuggled scores of people into Britain from the Baltic states.

Hundreds of forged and stolen documents, including passports and sophisticated computer equipment have been seized by the National Crime Squad (NCS) ...

Officers also seized an immigration stamp, forged college certificates and utility bills in the raid which was part of Operation Calligram.

BBC News, 6 February 2003

 

 


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