British passports lost abroad number 60,000

Image caption, People should think about where best to store passports when home and abroad, officials say

More than 60,000 British travellers reported their passport lost or stolen abroad between April 2009 and March 2010, government figures show.

The Identity and Passport Service replaced more than 279,000 passports lost or stolen in the UK or abroad in the same period.

Since 2002, a total of 2.2 million passports have been replaced by IPS.

It warned that passports were becoming increasingly attractive to criminal gangs wanting to steal identities.

In research conducted by the service, 83% of 1,553 UK passport holders questioned said they kept their passports "really safe".

The service advises people to take two photocopies of their passport, leaving one at home and keeping one separate from the passport when travelling.

It says people should think about where it is best to keep passports at home and abroad, and be wary if asked to surrender a passport.

People should report a lost or stolen passport to the local police and inform the British Consulate when abroad, and to the passport service and police in the UK.

Sarah Rapson, chief executive of IPS, said it was vital for people to take care of their passports.

"Passports are increasingly attractive documents to organised criminals. Hijacking someone else's identity can help facilitate a wide range of very serious crimes," she said.

IPS cancels a passport when it is reported lost or stolen. The organisation then notifies immigration and law enforcement agencies around the world to try to minimise the risk of it being misused.

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