|29-07-2008, 12:05 PM||#1|
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Security breach as 3,000 passports stolen from van
The Foreign Office admitted a serious breach of security today after 3,000 blank passports destined for British embassies worldwide were stolen from a van.
The 24 parcels, containing blank passports and vignettes - the blank stickers for visa stamps - were taken from the vehicle, which was en-route from a factory in Oldham to RAF Northolt near London.
The passports - taken when the van was hijacked near the site of the factory in Chadderton - were said to be the new electronic type which contain a chip replicating the data printed on the document itself.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that the "security features" made them unusable, but added that the Home Office had in any case taken "preventative action" to guard against forgeries.
She confirmed that the documents had been produced at Oldham-based printing firm 3M Security Printing and Systems. "The van was hijacked en route from the production site," she said.
A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police said: "Shortly before 6.40am on Monday, police were called to Gorse Street, Chadderton, following reports of a robbery. Officers attended and found boxes containing blank passports had been stolen. Inquiries are ongoing."
An Identity and Passport Service spokesman reiterated that "hi-tech security features" left the passports unusable. "The police are doing everything in their power to catch the perpetrators," he added.
Such sensitive documents are usually transported in armoured, secure vehicles, he added. It was not stated whether the vehicle transporting these passports conformed to this specification.
The incident is the latest where government departments or agencies either lost personal data or had it stolen.
Last month, an Independent Police Complaints Commission report condemned the "woefully inadequate system" being used by staff which brought about the loss of 25 million child benefit records, complete with sensitive personal information, late last year.
In addition, nine NHS trusts last December admitted they had lost confidential patientsí information while - in the same month - it was disclosed that the personal details of three million UK learner drivers had been lost by the agency in charge of storing them in the American state of Iowa.
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|29-07-2008, 12:14 PM||#2|
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This could be a passport to disaster!!