100 days – Day 52: Passports
It would appear that the UK Passport service is in meltdown. At least, it’s been called a shambles as people suffer long and frustrating delays in getting their applications processed.
Backlog caused by spike in applications has thrown many people’s plans into chaos, and many folk already have missed holidays abroad, while others are waiting anxiously to see if they will get theirs in time for forthcoming vacations or business trips.
Liverpool passport office – backlog of application forms
The Passport Office is facing an atmosphere of “blind panic”, a source within the service has claimed to ITV News, with staff “shunted” to the front line dealing with a huge backlog of applications.
The anonymous source claims boxes of passport applications are being lined up in rooms previously used for big meetings, with staff being told to avoid the original store room as it is “so full” they fear a risk to health and safety.
Pictures shown to ITV News reveal stacks of the boxes lined in a conference room, with staff claiming this is not the only room used to store ongoing applications.
“There’s a blind panic, frankly, and staff are being shunted from areas of work they were doing to deal with the massive backlog,” the source said. A source said the room was previously used for large meetings but has now been used for storage.
It is claimed that current delays in the process are being caused by a lack of staff, brought about by cuts to the service earlier in this parliament. But the Home Office insists there is no backlog, even though additional staff and resources are being assigned to the service to meet “unprecedented” demand.
The department says the need for the temporary space “signifies the levels of demand” but says the papers shown have all been processed and logged and are being held securely.
Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Passport Office Paul Pugh said: “We would remind people of our existing advice to customers: allow plenty of time when applying for a new or renewed passport as a passport will not be issued until the necessary security checks have been done, and do not book travel until you have received your passport.”
There was a lovely story on the internet last week
A Chinese tourist was reportedly left stranded in a Korean airport after his four-year-old son defaced his passport with a black pen.
The man, named under the alias Mr Zhang, was preparing to return to China when he realised he had made the mistake of leaving his passport with his “naughty” son, according to a report by Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
The boy ran riot with his biro, treating the passport like a “sketch book”, Xinhua said.
Animals, clouds, plants and unintelligible squiggles appeared on the pages of the People’s Republic of China travel document.
The man’s photograph did not escape: the boy added black shades to his father’s face and an explosion of whisker-like facial hair that sprouted from his chin, cheeks and scalp.
South Korean immigration officials were unimpressed with the makeover, Xinhua claimed. He was barred from leaving the country, leaving him temporarily stranded.
(sadly, the above story seems to be an “Urban Legend”)
An very elderly gentleman arrived in Paris by plane.
At the French customs desk, the man took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry-on bag.
“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked, sarcastically.
The elderly gentleman admitted he had been to France previously.
“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”
The old fellow said, “The last time I was here, I didn`t have to show it.”
“Impossible. Those entering La Belle France from Britain always have to show your passports on arrival here!”
The elderly gent gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, “Well, when I came ashore at Normandy on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn`t find any Frenchmen to show it to.”