Mary has today written to members of the Board of Her Majesty’s Passport Office to “insist” they allow a visit to the Durham Office following allegations of a toxic working culture and a “staggering” number of constituents getting in touch regarding backlogs.

It has been noted that passport casework in Mary’s office has risen from 3 in the entirety of 2021 to over 30 in the month of June 2022 alone.

Mary’s further request for a visit to HMPO Durham comes as backlogs in many areas of public services were debated in Parliament on Tuesday 28th June.

Full text of the letter can be found below:

 

Dear Abi and Myrtle,

Site visit to HMPO Durham

On 6th May 2022 I emailed reputation@hmpo.gov.uk to request a site visit to HMPO Durham. Following an influx in contact from constituents who were experiencing issues with their passport applications, I was hopeful that a brief discussion with the leadership team at HMPO Durham, as well as a brief audience with some of the staff, may allow me to take on board some of their concerns and raise them with the relevant Minister(s) in Parliament in order to try and find ways which we could work together in order to ease the ever growing backlog of passport applications.

Many of my constituents are employed at HMPO Durham and many are also customers. My request to visit was very straightforward and would usually be welcomed with open arms by any major employer in my constituency.

On 9th May I received a response informing me “due to the current unprecedented demand for passports resulting from the return of unrestricted international travel, we are unable to accommodate a visit at this time.”

Following this response and having already been told by numerous sources that HMPO staff were allegedly being bullied into silence regarding their working conditions, I decided to invite HMPO staff to contact me anonymously so I could ensure their concerns could be raised appropriately. To say I was left shocked after reading the stark experiences I received is an understatement.

It is clear to me that there are major issues relating to the working cultures which now have a firm grip on HMPO Durham and, as the constituency MP, I am left with no option but to insist I am able to visit the site in July so I am able to speak to the workers, many of who are my own constituents.
I am acutely aware of the current demands on passport staff, however I strongly refute any claims from the Home Office that “coordinating a visit for an MP would divert vital resource from this work”.

I am more than happy to work with HMPO to ensure workers’ concerns are addressed. However, if my request for a site visit is declined for a second time, I will continue to engage with HMPO workers anonymously until the full scale of the toxic environment across HMPO is exposed.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Kelly Foy MP

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