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  1. ITV Report

Number of Brits arrested on holiday abroad 'on the increase'

The number of Britons arrested overseas is on the rise Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

The number of Britons arrested overseas is on the rise, official figures today showed.

The Foreign Office (FO) handled 6,015 arrest cases involving British nationals abroad between April2011 and March 2012.

This was 6% more than in the previous 12 months and included a 2% rise in drug arrests.

All too often young people think they'll spend the night in a cell sleeping off their hangover before being let out in the morning.

"They soon sober up when they realise their British passport does not grant them immunity and they're alone in a foreign prison cell.

"Its particularly sad to see younger people throwing away years of their lives, often as a result of a risky decision made in the heat of the moment and after a few too many drinks.

"Not only can you end up with a criminal record but the effects on your family can be devastating."

– David Thomas, Consular Regional Director, Spain

The FO said anecdotal evidence from embassies and consulates overseas suggested many incidents were alcohol-fuelled.

The highest number of Britons arrested and detentined was in Spain Credit: REUTERS

The Independent reports that consular staff in Cairo handled 66 cases up to the end of March this year, compared with 34 for the previous year.

The large increase occurred despite a sharp fall in tourism overall since civil insurrection began there early last year.

  • New figures reveal the number of Brits arrested overseas has risen by 6% in the past year.
  • Between April 2011 and March 2012, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office handled 6,015 arrest cases involving British nationals - up from 5,700 in the previous year.
  • Drug arrests have also increased by 2% with the FCO handling 816 cases over the same period.
  • The figures, which include holidaymakers and Britons resident overseas, showed the highest number of arrests and detentions was in Spain (1,909) followed by the USA (1,305).
  • Spanish arrests rose 9% in 2011/12, while the USA was up 3%.
  • The most arrests of Britons for drugs was in the USA (147), followed by Spain (141).
  • The highest percentage of arrests for drugs in 2011/12 was in Peru where there were only 17 arrests in total, although 15 were for drugs.

It is important that people understand that taking risks abroad can land them on the wrong side of the law.

"The punishments can be very severe, with tougher prison conditions than in the UK. While we will work hard to try and ensure the safety of British nationals abroad, we cannot interfere in another country's legal system.

"We find that many people are shocked to discover that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cannot get them out of jail.

"Having a British passport does not make you immune to foreign laws and will not get you special treatment in prison."

– Consular Affairs Minister Jeremy Browne

Daybreak talks to David Birkenshaw, who spent ten weeks in a Latvian prison.