Last minute passport to a holiday headache

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Labour has described the Government’s handling of the passport crisis as “a sorry shambles”. Indeed, it is difficult to argue with that.

The Home Secretary Theresa May, in the Commons last week, did her best to calm things down - but her intervention seems to have done little to ease things.

She announced special charges for fast-tracking passport applications would be dropped and she threatened to remove the Passport Office’s status as an agency and bring it under direct Home Office control. Of course, the Passport Office should have been prepared for the usual avalanche of applications at this time of year - but judging by its grossly inadequate and incompetent performance, it was not.

However, some blame must also be attached to the thousands of applicants. One imagines most of them would have booked their overseas holidays months ago and must have been aware at that time that they needed to get a passport for the first time, or have it renewed.

Why then did they leave it all to the last minute? Surely they’d know there would be a rush on and that delays would be inevitable?

It is always the easiest thing in the world to blame a public body when things go awry. But surely the punters must shoulder some of the blame too.

What on earth has come over the Prison Service? We are casually told that one open prison alone has no fewer than 90 of its inmates on the run, some of them, including at least one savage murderer, for years.

We learnt this information as though it were a daily occurrence - perhaps it is.

The fact that some prisoners are clearly not suitable to be in open prisons, is bad enough.

The “selection” system for such prisoners is, to put it mildly, up the creek. What is probably worse is the impression given that the authorities simply shrug their shoulders when yet another prisoner goes missing.

This is a double-whammy scandal. The paying public has a right to know what goes on in this area, yet outrageously this has not happened.

One simple way which might deter this kind of thing is to compel prisoners in open prisons to wear garish prison garb.

But, of course, we’d probably be told this was in defiance of the poor darlings’ human rights.