Opening date for controversial centre

IPSWICH'S controversial new passport centre is due to open later this year.The town is to become home to a new passport interview office, based at Crown House, Crown Street Ipswich in a move that has caused fury among civil liberties activists.

IPSWICH'S controversial new passport centre is due to open later this year.

The town is to become home to a new passport interview office, based at Crown House, Crown Street Ipswich in a move that has caused fury among civil liberties activists.

The passport office is being set up by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in order to interview first-time adult passport applicants.

The face to face interviews will be compulsory to all passport customers applying for a British passport for the first time.

There are 609,000 first time applicants nationwide every year and new interview offices are being set up throughout the country between now and September.

While the Home Office estimates that half of visitors to the new passport office will be 16 to 24 year olds from the region who have never been abroad, the interview stage of receiving a British passport will also form the last leg of the long process of becoming a British national.

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Peter Wilson, spokesman for the Home Office, said: “A large group will be refugees or immigrants who “have just got British nationality and have already applied for a British Passport in the normal way.

“They will then have to come for an interview which will enable us to check they are who they say they “are and that they are in the country when they say they are.”

The new office in Ipswich is due to open in September.

The department will create five new jobs but the impact of the new measure on the town is not yet clear.

It is expected the Ipswich office will handle more than five thousand cases a year and it is hoped it will play a major role in tackling passport fraud.

The move has been condemned by civil liberties campaigners, and sparked a campaign by the pressure group No2ID who fear that it will eventually lead to everyone having to carry identity cards.

Andrew Watson from the Ipswich Branch of No2 ID said: He said: “We are opposed to the introduction of identity cards and whatever the Home Office might say that is the agenda behind this planning application.”

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