By Claire West

Latest Government figures show that more than 60,000 British travellers reported their passport lost or stolen abroad between April 2009 and March 2010.

This is despite new research by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), which shows that 83 per cent of people say they always store their passport in a safe place.

IPS is today urging passport holders to take a few simple steps to keep their documents safe abroad and in the UK.

Steps include:

* when travelling, take two photocopies of your passport, leaving one at home and keeping one separate from your passport;
* keep your passport with you when travelling to your destination;
* think about where it is best to keep your passport at home and abroad;
* be wary if you are asked to surrender your passport; and
* report a lost or stolen passport to the local police and inform the British Consulate when abroad and to IPS and the police when in the UK.

Sarah Rapson, Chief Executive of IPS, said:

"It is vital that people take care of their passports, both at home and abroad. Passports are increasingly attractive documents to organised criminals.

"Hijacking someone else's identity can help facilitate a wide range of very serious crimes." When a person reports their passport lost or stolen, IPS logs the details and cancels it on its system. It then notifies immigration and law enforcement agencies around the world to try and minimise the risk of it being misused.