Passport Office 'in blind panic': Leaked photos reveal scale of 'backlog'

Boxes of passport applications stacked up in a conference room at the Passport Office.

The Passport Office is facing an atmosphere of "blind panic", a source within the service has claimed to ITV News, with staff "shunted" to the front line dealing with a huge backlog of applications.

The anonymous source claims boxes of passport applications are being lined up in rooms previously used for big meetings, with staff being told to avoid the original store room as it is "so full" they fear a risk to health and safety.

Pictures shown to ITV News reveal stacks of the boxes lined in a conference room, with staff claiming this is not the only room used to store ongoing applications.

"There's a blind panic, frankly, and staff are being shunted from areas of work they were doing to deal with the massive backlog," the source said.

A source said the room was previously used for large meetings but has now been used for storage.

It is claimed that current delays in the process are being caused by a lack of staff, brought about by cuts to the service earlier in this parliament.

But the Home Office insists there is no backlog, even though additional staff and resources are being assigned to the service to meet "unprecedented" demand.

Staff say the stacks in one room are so large they are concerned for health and safety.

The department says the need for the temporary space "signifies the levels of demand" but says the papers shown have all been processed and logged and are being held securely.

Chief Executive of Her Majesty's Passport Office Paul Pugh said: "We would remind people of our existing advice to customers: allow plenty of time when applying for a new or renewed passport as a passport will not be issued until the necessary security checks have been done, and do not book travel until you have received your passport."

Read: Passport Office 'working 7 days a week' amid delay complaints