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Home Office passport fraud sweep flops

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The Home Office security upgrade scheme to catch passport fraudsters through face-to-face interviews has bagged just eight potential 'Jackals'.

The project, requiring first-time passport applicants to attend interviews with officials from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), launched in 2007 and has resulted in no prosecutions or convictions.

More than half a million people have been interviewed through the scheme, kicking off 4000 fraud investigations, but only eight have been refused a passport on the evidence obtained. The Home Office is not able to say what has happened to these eight.

The Daily Telegraph got hold of the embarrassing figures after making a freedom of information request.

In response to the revelations, a Home Office spokesman said: "Identity authentication interviews were introduced to our passport process to make it more difficult to obtain passports fraudulently.

"They are just one part of a rigorous system, which includes checks prior to interview, which is designed to uncover fraudulent cases and to act as a strong deterrent to false applications."

Government estimates put fraudulent passport applications at 4,400 per year. The face-to-face interview system cost £93m to set up, and £30m a year to run.

By coincidence, a standard UK passport has leaped in price from £28 in 2001 to £77.50 today. ®

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