Decrease in Britons arrested abroad

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The Independent Travel

The number of Britons arrested overseas has fallen, Foreign Office (FO) figures showed today.

But the number needing hospital treatment increased in 2010/11 despite a dip in the number of visits abroad.

Total arrests in the 12 months ending March 2011 reached 5,700 - a reduction on 6,439 in 2009/10 and well down on the 2008/09 total of 6,919.

Arrests of Britons for drugs offences overseas totalled 799 in 2010/11 - almost 20% down on the 2009/10 figure of 994.

The number who needed to go to hospital abroad in 2010/11 reached 3,752 - slightly up on the 2009/10 total of 3,689.

The number of Britons raped abroad fell from 132 in 2009/10 to 115 in 2010/11, but sexual assaults increased from 140 to 163.

There were 25,969 cases of lost or stolen passports in 2010/11 compared with 27,272 in the previous 12 months.

In total, 19,228 Britons needed consular assistance abroad in 2010/11 compared with 19,839 the year before.

The FO statistics, which also relate to Britons living abroad, also showed that in 2010/11:

:: Spain was the country with the most instances (4,971) of Britons needing consular assistance;

:: The next countries in the list were the USA, France, Thailand and Greece;

:: Spain had the highest number (1,745) of arrests of Britons, although proportionately, Britons were most likely to be arrested in Thailand where they were also most likely to need hospital treatment;

:: There were 5,972 deaths of Britons, with the Philippines the country where proportionately Britons were most likely to die but where 84% of the deaths were of natural causes.

An FO poll of 2,000 UK adults showed that 43% of 18 to 24-year-olds knew someone who had taken illegal drugs while abroad.

Two in three people did not always find out about the laws of the country they visited before travelling.

As many as 32% were not aware they would always be prosecuted if they broke the law abroad - with 6% of people thinking they would be prosecuted under UK law, 22% thinking it depended on the country they were in, and 4% admitting to not knowing at all.

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 FO 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."