UK

Thousands of UK passports 'thrown out with rubbish'

  • 22 April 2011
  • From the section UK
A British passport
Image caption People should only carry passports when absolutely necessary, officials advise

Some 10,000 passports a year are probably thrown in bins, says the UK's Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

Launching a campaign urging people to keep passports safe, it warns the same number are lost in bars and clubs.

The IPS said it had had reports of passports being stolen at gunpoint in Brazil, lost in jail, and left in the pocket of a coat donated to a tramp.

The IPS based its findings on analysis of applications for replacement passports, which cost £77.50.

Men replace more than 162,500 lost and stolen passports a year compared with about 112,000 by women, the IPS says.

Criminal gangs

Of all the lost and stolen passports in the UK, people in their 20s were responsible for 42.8% of the total - more than twice as many as the next nearest age group.

Those in their 30s lost 20.8% followed by people in their 40s, who lost 12.8%.

IPS chief executive Sarah Rapson warned that passports were becoming increasingly attractive to criminal gangs wanting to steal identities.

She said: "It's really important that you keep it safe both when you are at home and when you're abroad.

"Remember to put your passport away after use. Don't leave it in a trouser or shirt pocket in the laundry pile."

Some of the colourful reasons given for why people were parted from their passports include:

  • Taxi attacked by gunman on way to airport in Brazil
  • Fell out of bag while snowboarding
  • Drunk boyfriend (now ex) destroyed it
  • Last seen in pocket of a coat donated to tramp
  • Wallet stolen at children's party with passport inside
  • Passports stored in safe in Turkish villa, thieves stole safe
  • Put in bin by infant daughter; and
  • Put on a fire with clothes

The service advised people to keep their passport in a place they can remember and to only carry it when absolutely necessary.

It said people should use alternatives if they needed to prove their age and should keep a note of the number to help speed up the issuing of replacements.

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