Your diary item Passport to Nowhere (13 April, page 31), makes a few mistakes about the proposed network of passport interview offices.
Passport interviews are going to be introduced gradually over the rest of the year and will only be for adults applying for their first ever passport. Passport issuing is funded through the passport fee, not taxes.
The network of 69 interview offices has been designed to strike a balance between keeping costs (and therefore the passport fee) as low as possible while making journeys to interviews as short as possible for our customers. The office network will provide an office within an hour’s travelling time of more than 95% of the UK population.
The UK is one of a minority of countries that do not require personal attendance to apply for a passport. Identity fraud is one of Britain’s fastest-growing crimes and we believe there is a pressing need for an improved integrated system of identity authentication. The interview requirement, in combination with enhanced background checks and more secure biometric “ePassports” introduced last year, will provide a powerful weapon in the fight against passport fraud.
Joan Ryan MP, Home Office minister, London SW1