Press release

New report shows FCO helped thousands of British Nationals overseas

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New figures show fall in some serious types of consular case, but FCO still helped over 17,000 British people last year.

The British Behaviour Abroad report 2014, published today, highlights that while millions of British nationals still travel abroad every year, there has been a decrease in some of the serious types of consular case in the past year.

The total number of hospitalisation cases handled by FCO staff in 2013/14 fell to its lowest level for five years, particularly in popular holiday destinations such as France, Thailand and Spain. Cases of rape and sexual assault reported to consular staff have also dropped significantly. The total number of rape cases reported was at its lowest level for a decade, with large falls in Spain and Turkey, and reported sexual assaults were down by almost 12% globally.

While total arrests saw a fall compared to 2012/13, drug arrests remain a problem in some countries, with Australia and Spain seeing a combined increase in recorded cases of more than 80%.

The report also shows increases in other areas. More British people are needing assistance in far-off destinations such as the Philippines, Australia, China and the United Arab Emirates. There was also a 15% rise in cases involving British nationals with mental health needs, an area where FCO staff are seeking to offer more support in line with the FCO’s consular strategy to do more for the most vulnerable.

Overall, FCO consular staff handled 17,517* assistance cases globally in 2013/14. Not all consular cases are preventable, but many of them are – which is why the FCO urges travellers to research their destination and prepare fully before departing for a trip abroad. The spread of cases across the world can be viewed on our interactive map.

Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs, said:

With the summer holidays just around the corner, millions of people across the UK will be looking forward to taking a trip abroad. The vast majority will enjoy a trouble-free holiday, but for those who do encounter difficulties our consular staff are there to offer support.

This year’s report has highlighted some encouraging downward trends, and this allows our staff to concentrate more on supporting our most vulnerable customers. However, the FCO continues to help thousands of British nationals who get into trouble overseas every year.

Not all consular cases are preventable, but for many travellers taking a few simple steps of preparation can reduce the risk of getting into trouble. Taking out comprehensive travel insurance, researching the country and health risks before you go and behaving responsibly when you arrive can all help to ensure that you remember your holiday for the right reasons.

Other key findings highlighted in the British Behaviour Abroad Report 2014 are:

  • although the overall number of arrests has decreased, some countries have seen an increase in cases, including the Philippines, Egypt and France

  • with visitor figures and resident numbers taken into account, British residents are most likely to need assistance in the Philippines, Thailand and Jamaica

  • the number of hospitalisation cases recorded in the Philippines has increased by 38% compared to 2012/13

  • the number of recorded deaths globally fell significantly, largely because we no longer record death notifications (where the FCO has no involvement)

Please refer to the British Behaviour Abroad Report 2014 for further data.

Further information

What can the FCO do for people who have problems when travelling abroad?

The FCO can: The FCO cannot:
issue you with an emergency travel document help you enter a country if you don’t have a valid passport or necessary visas
give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors give you legal advice
contact friends and family at home for you if necessary get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people
provide information about transferring funds pay any bills or give you money
visit you in hospital or if you have been arrested make travel arrangements for you

*This is a significant decrease on the figure highlighted in the 2013 British Behaviour Abroad report. The size of the decrease is driven by a change in the way our consular staff record deaths of British nationals overseas: we no longer record death notifications (where we have had no other involvement) as consular cases.

For further information please contact the Know Before You Go team on 020 7781 2342 or

The FCO’s Know Before You Go campaign encourages British nationals to prepare for their foreign travel so they can avoid preventable problems. The campaign targets a number of audiences, from gap year students to package holidaymakers; sports fans to older travellers and people visiting friends and family abroad. The campaign works with more than 300 travel industry partners to communicate its messages. For more information visit our Know Before You Go page.