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Expert says better passport security needed -

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Expert says better passport security needed

Sarah Dingle reported this story on Thursday, February 25, 2010 12:16:00

ELEANOR HALL: A forensic document expert says it is not easy to make a high quality copy of an
Australian passport but that low quality fakes are not so difficult.

Steve Dale is the president of the Australian Society of Forensic Document Examiners and he worked
as a documents expert with the Tasmanian Police for almost three decades.

He told Sarah Dingle that what matters is the quality of official checks.

STEVEN DALE: Australia has traditionally had a very high standard of security features built into
their passports and bank notes and so forth, you know probably amongst the world leaders. They're
very hard to forge them successfully.

But whether they've been forged and not been very good forgeries but slipped past somewhere just by
colour photocopying it's, I don't know.

SARAH DINGLE: Given all the materials that go into making an Australian passport are these
materials easy to obtain?

STEVEN DALE: No. Everything like passports, like bank notes are done on special security paper with
special security features.

I think somebody who worked in a security printing business you know would be the only type of
people who'd have that knowledge and possibly access to those sort of features. But it really is a
long shot.

SARAH DINGLE: So these passports were issued before the introduction of the chip passports. Are
they easier to duplicate than the chip documents?

STEVEN DALE: One would think again but they would have had their own unique identifying
characteristics that, security characteristics, many of which are inbuilt and unseen to the visible
eye. But when they're run through different means of security checking features like ultraviolent
light and so forth, at specific wavelengths, it's only then that they would show up some of the
security measures.

SARAH DINGLE: I know for instance in South East Asian countries when people go on holiday and they
hire things like motorcycles they often hand over their passports as security. Do you think people
should be more conscious of who has their passport and where it is?

STEVEN DALE: For sure. It's one of the most valuable things that you can have and as you know
they're very difficult to replace. It's very easy to hand it over as a security without thinking of
the ramifications.

SARAH DINGLE: How long do you think someone would have to have your passport for to make a copy of
it?

STEVEN DALE: Statistically not very long for the, to get the basic means, colour copying it.

But beyond that the plot thickens because all the pages of a passport have to have those security
features built into them. And not knowing what they were without very sophisticated checking means,
it wouldn't be easy to produce a good copy.

But just a basic colour copy, yeah you could do it.

SARAH DINGLE: So you think perhaps it's not in the copying so much as having better checks on
passports?

STEVEN DALE: Yes. You can't fault Australian customs. They've got very good checking mechanisms
around Australia. But you don't know what goes on overseas. Obviously the poorer countries, they've
got less sophisticated border checks and processes.

ELEANOR HALL: That's forensic document expert Steve Dale speaking to Sarah Dingle.