The number of Britons arrested overseas has fallen by more than 10 percent, according to a new report by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Drug arrests saw the biggest improvement, declining almost 20 percent over the past year.
Despite this positive trend however, the British Behaviour Abroad report showed that Foreign Office staff still handled 5,700 arrest cases last year. The were 4,971 cases of Brits in trouble in Spain – the highest of any country – but as a percentage of visitor numbers, Brits were most likely to need consular assistance in the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan. The number of Brits hospitalised abroad has increased, with Spain handling the most cases (1,024) followed by Greece. Proportionally Brits are most likely to be hospitalised in Thailand.
The report also showed that more than two thirds (69 percent) of people in Britain don’t always find out about the laws of the country they are visiting before they travel. More worryingly nearly a third (32 percent) of people are not aware that they will always be prosecuted under local law if they break the law abroad, with six percent of people believing they would be prosecuted under UK law.
The UK’s Minister for Europe, David Lidington, said; “We work hard to warn British nationals about the consequences of breaking the law abroad so it is really encouraging to see the overall number of cases of arrests and drug arrests falling. But last year there were still 5,700 arrests of British nationals overseas. Prison conditions in some parts of the world can be very poor, overcrowded and, in some cases, dangerous and sentences can be much tougher than in the UK. People are mistaken if they think the Foreign Office can get you out of jail. We can’t, but we will work hard to try and ensure your safety, and that you get a fair trial.”