Not Saussure

March 7, 2007

More fun from the Home Office

Filed under: Foreigners, Law, Spin — notsaussure @ 7:25 pm

Via Mr Eugenides, who really is in top form at the moment, the strange news that John Reid has announced that

People visiting Britain on visas are to be sent text messages warning them that their “time is running out” as part of John Reid’s get-tough policy towards illegal immigrants.

Mr E spots a little flaw in this plan.

Dr Reid is clearly in a pugnacious sort of mood, apparently because he’s under impression an illegal immigrant has pinched his giro (don’t ask me… he reckons they ‘come to this country illegitimately and steal our benefits,’ thus clearly differentiating himself from crude demagogues who say they come here to steal our jobs) also apparently proposes to review

how the driver licensing system can be used to identify and combat illegal immigration. This will include identifying those illegal immigrants applying for licences fraudulently, will be denied a licence and targeted for enforcement action

This puzzles me. It’s already illegal, of course, to use a fake passport to apply for a driving licence, and I can’t see how, other than by seconding pretty specialised immigration department staff to the DVLA, you’re going to spot more fake passports (or ones that have been tampered with) than you do at the moment; unless it’s a very crude forgery, even the Immigration Service staff have to submit documents to a special department who can recognise forged overseas passports or well-faked UK entry permission stamps. And, short of requiring everyone who applies for a driving licence to attend a face-to-face interview, I don’t quite see how you’ll catch people who just submits someone else’s documentation (in the event they can find someone who’s entitled to a licence but doesn’t want one and who’s prepared to go along with the fraud).

Furthermore, such measures will, I fear, do little to catch the chap who simply doesn’t bother with a driving licence in the first place. And, since he doesn’t mind staying here illegally (and stealing Dr Reid’s benefits) I wouldn’t put it past him.

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  1. A close friend of mine (ex copper) tells me that dvla have a team of people specifically trained and who work closely with the home office and passport agency in identifying false passports!

    Comment by daniel thomas james — March 8, 2007 @ 8:19 am

  2. I’m sure they do. My knowledge of these matters is derived primarily from what happens when the matter makes its way to court, but I do know that checking the authenticity of Home Office stamps is the work of a specialised department in the Immigration Service. It’s not the sort of thing that most Immigration Service staff are trained for; apparently when they have to make decisions based on the evidence what’s stamped in the passport already, they make the decision on the basis it’s genuine and then pass the thing on to the Vignette Section (I think that’s what it’s called) to authenticate the stamps. Certainly I couldn’t tell you what’s wrong with most of fakes I’ve seen (some are obvious, of course).

    Apparently — which makes sense — they contain various authenticating features that are very hard to spot (otherwise the forgers would spot them, too, and reproduce them) unless you know what you’re looking for. This knowledge is, for obvious reasons, pretty confidential, so the team who authenticate them isn’t very large.

    When it comes to foreign passports, they normally refer anything that looks suspicious to the relevant Consulate, though I assume they must have trained people who have an idea what a genuine Chilean or Sri Lankan passport looks like in the first place, so they know which ones merit futher scrutiny.

    Maybe they plan to increase the size of the scrutiny teams at the DVLA, but my impression — from my dealings with them on behalf of people with overseas passports — is that the scrutiny is pretty close anyway, since driving licences are official ID documents.

    Comment by notsaussure — March 8, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

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