JUSTICES OF the Peace (JPs) from the Kingston Chapter of the Lay Magistrates' Association have been warned by the Passport Office to ensure that they know passport applicants before they affix their signatures to the documents stating their acquaintance.
Lincoln Downer, customer services manager at the Passport Office, speaking at the bi-annual meeting of the Lay Magistrates' Association at the St. Matthew's Church Hall in Kingston, told JPs that his division had been detecting several cases of fraudulent documents submitted along with application forms. He said that the integrity of the JPs, whose signatures were affixed to these fraudulent applications, was now in question.
"We have seen that a number of persons have pretty much erred; to be quite frank, they have pretty much lied to us," Mr. Downer said, while pointing to section F on the new passport application form which requires a JP's official seal of approval.
JPs, he said, must know applicants for at least one year, not one day or six months" before they affix their signatures to any document.
The customer services manager explained that since the introduction of the new passport issuance system, the Passport Office was now seeking to include applicants' information on the database from the very first time they are issued a passport. This information is stored and then used to issue subsequent passports without requiring further identification.
"...You just have to carry the new machine-readable passport because everything, including your contact information, your spouse's information where necessary, is included on the form," he noted.
Mr. Downer explained that because of the introduction of the new tamper-proof machine-read passports, an increasing number of persons were now coming forward with fraudulent documents. But he said that with a team of trained staff and new technology, his office is able to detect the fraudulent documents. "We are even using ultraviolet lamps to identify the features of the new birth certificates, also the features of the new drivers' licences and the voters ID," he said.