The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has confirmed that its ID system crashed yesterday, which resulted in hundreds of people who were waiting for biometric visas or permits appointments being told to go home because the system could not cope.

A UKBA spokesperson told Computerworld UK that systems were now “back up and running”, but the outage left a “small backlog of appointments to clear”.

According to the BBC, hundreds of people were left queuing for appointments at the UKBA’s Croydon Enquiry Office, with most being told to go home and many left in tears.

“It’s totally shambolic. Officials have been saying they can’t do anything for us today despite the fact that we have appointments,” said one applicant.

“Normally if there is a problem they would rebook there and then. But we’re being told to go home and book online – but that will mean weeks of waiting to get back into the system.”

The Home Office issues biometric visas and permits to foreign nationals and has distributed over 600,000 of the ID cards in almost four years.

The IT outage does not come at a good time for the Home Office, which is also dealing with border chaos at Heathrow after it was revealed that BAA, the company that owns the airport, did not reach its targets for clearing foreign nationals within 45 minutes of arrival into the country.

Yvette Cooper, shadow Home Secretary, said that the UKBA was “lurching from shambles to shambles”, and asked: “What on earth are the home secretary and her ministers doing?”

“Instead of getting a grip, the government just keeps making it worse.”