FCO Assisted Over 19,000 Brits Last Year

18 July 2013 by Anna Staford

World Travel Insurance News

Press release

FCO report shows Government helping thousands of Brits in trouble abroad every year.

Official figures released today as part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) annual British Behaviour Abroad Report 2013 showed that Consular staff gave assistance to more than 19,000 Brits in need in 2012/13. Overall total assistance figures showed a slight drop of 3% but some countries saw big increases in more serious types of case.

Every year Consular staff around the world support thousands of British nationals who find themselves in difficulties. In 2012/13 staff in some countries, including Spain and the USA, continued to deal with thousands of cases, while a number of countries including India, United Arab Emirates and the Philippines saw an increase in serious cases such as arrests and hospitalisations – demonstrating the importance for travellers to respect local laws and customs and take out comprehensive travel insurance. Overall arrests of Brits abroad for drug offences dropped to their lowest level for four years, with a decrease of 34% since 2009/10 and general arrests and detentions showed a 21% drop in the same period. However, in the 2012/13 period 3,599 British people were hospitalised and there were over 6,000 deaths of British people abroad.

Brits abroad

Spain, the country most popular with British tourists and expatriates, has seen a significant decrease in arrests, detentions and hospitalisation cases – mainly due to local initiatives involving our staff, police and hospital authorities.

However, reported rape and sexual assault cases increased by 10% compared to 2011/12. The three countries in which the largest number of cases were reported were Spain, Turkey and Greece – destinations popular with young Brits for their busy nightlife.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister Mark Simmonds, said: “I am proud that our staff continue to offer vital support to thousands of British travellers and residents around the world. Each case can represent great distress for the individuals concerned and for their families. I encourage all British travellers to do everything they can to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip by taking some basic steps to prepare themselves before departure, including taking out comprehensive travel insurance and researching their destination.

"I am deeply concerned to see an increase in the number of reported rape and sexual assault cases involving British people. The priority for our consular staff is the safety and wellbeing of British travellers and we will continue to work, including with other Governments and tour operators, to help to prevent further cases and provide all possible support for victims. This support includes explaining local procedures, accompanying people to the police station, helping them deal with local authorities and medical staff and contacting friends and family at home if that is wanted.”

A number of other key findings are highlighted in the report, including:

British tourists
  • Some countries including Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Australia and India have seen an increase in hospitalisations. Posts have reported a mix of cases but many have involved older expats or tourists with pre-existing medical conditions getting into difficulty and requiring treatment after arriving in the country.
  • Thailand has seen a significant increase in hospitalisations (31%) and deaths (31%), despite fewer cases worldwide. Road traffic accidents, many involving young people on mopeds, and an ageing expat population are both factors attributed to the increase in cases.
  • Alcohol continues to be a major factor in cases involving young people visiting the Balearics, Turkey and Greek islands.
  • Although drug arrests have gone down, drugs remain a problem for many countries, including Jamaica, France and Portugal.
  • Despite the significant drop in general arrest and detention cases, countries including Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates have seen an increase in cases.
Travel reminders

The FCO is urging people to remember three key things before they go away this summer:

  • Check health requirements – so you can get the right vaccinations and take any necessary medication such as anti-malaria tablets.
  • Research your destination – the more clued up you are, the smoother your trip will be and the less likely you are to find yourself on the wrong side of foreign laws.

Please refer to the British Behaviour Abroad report 2013 for further data.

For details on how the FCO can help if you get into trouble abroad, please visit the wesbite.

The FCO is encouraging people to sign up to Facebook and Twitter feeds to ensure they are informed of the latest travel advice.

Read also: Young Brits Failing to Get Cover for Adventurous Pursuits Abroad

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