Foreign Minister, Jeremy Browne was interviewed by Sky News about the Foreign Office's report on the behaviour of British tourists abroad.
Mark Longhurst: New figures this morning are showing almost a thousand Britons were arrested for drug related offences alone abroad last year, the figures just out from the Foreign Office, accounting for a seventh of all arrests of British nationals abroad in the twelve months to March this year.
Well the Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, joins us now in our Westminster studio.
Mr Browne, good morning to you.
Jeremy Brown (JB): Good morning.
ML: I understand, I mean there are other incidents as well: rape cases, sexual assault, road traffic accidents, unlawful killings. What happens to us when we get abroad?
JB: Well I think it’s worth putting it in perspective. There are tens of millions of British people who go abroad every year for holidays or business and the vast majority of them have a good time or they achieve what they want to achieve if they’ve gone on business trips and they don’t get in to any problems. But what we’re trying to do by raising this and publishing our annual figures is to remind people that they need to take precautions, that prevention is better than cure and if they get the right type of travel insurance, they get the right inoculations, they respect local customs, they’re much more likely to have a trouble free visit abroad.
**ML: **However, as we saw with the incidents of volcanic ash when a lot of travel insurance companies turned around and said, I’m sorry, act of God, you’re on your own, it put a lot of pressure on consular services across Europe.
JB: It, it certainly did but there’s a wider point about insurance, which is you’d be amazed how many people go abroad for their holidays and get no insurance at all and of course some get away with it but if you need the insurance and you don’t have it it can be a very expensive mistake. And other people don’t fill out the insurance properly. I mean a lot of the media attention about this report has been about young people abroad. You’d be surprised again by how many older people for example don’t properly declare some medical conditions. They need some medical insurance claims abroad and the claims are null and void because they haven’t properly declared what their conditions were on the insurance. So people do need to make sure they read the small print and get the right type of insurance.
ML: Of course largely academic if you’re arrested on a drugs’ related offence. Now is this across the world, hot spots like Thailand, is it people who are just using the drugs recreationally? What’s going on?
JB: Well it’s a range of, there are countries unsurprisingly that are hot spots as you put it, and there are a whole range of different offences. I mean a lot of Britons do get arrested abroad each year, several thousand. A minority of them are drugs’ cases but there are some drugs’ cases and people have to realise as well that there are different approaches to the law in different countries and some countries have complete zero tolerance approach and others take a different attitude towards drugs.
But what we can’t do is override the laws of the country that you are in. We can visit people in prison in most cases. We can try and help with legal advice. But what we can’t do is get you out of prison if you’ve broken the law in the country you’re visiting. So don’t assume just because you’re a British person abroad that you get treated differently because