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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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British behaviour abroad report

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The latest British behaviour abroad report was published on Tuesday 12 August. Meg Munn took part in an interview on the Radio 4 Today programme discussing the main findings of the report and what action the UK Government are taking to address some of the issues highlighted. She also commented on the report on the Radio 4 phone in show You and Yours.


Meg Munn commented on why the Government release this report every year. She said:


“Well, we are concerned that drink does play a part in a number of these situations.  The reason we do this survey every year is to get the… a good idea of what’s happening to people when they’re abroad; what are the kind of calls that our Embassies and High Commissions are getting and the help that we give?  And then to give advice to people so hopefully more people can avoid getting into difficulties, whether it’s through having their passport stolen or losing it, or indeed through, as you’ve highlighted, getting arrested.”


She was asked about the role of UK Embassies abroad, particularly in countries like Spain, where a large number of British people seek assistance from the Embassies every year. She replied:


“The Embassies do a whole range of work.  We have specific consular staff who deal with issues that Britons face when they’re abroad.  What we need to remember is that more people visit Spain than any other country, and also we have a larger number of people who live there, and therefore they too might be looking to get support from the Embassy."


"What we really want to say, though, is that if people take some simple precautions before they go: they check up about the details of local laws and customs – sometimes it’s about not being aware that something might be illegal in a different country; keep within their limits when they’re out enjoying themselves on their holiday; and have proper travel insurance, then they won’t need to call on our staff, unless something unfortunately does happen to them, where they’re ill, it’s beyond their control; and then our staff are freed up from dealing with lots and lots of different things to be able to help those Britons who really do need our support.”


Finally, Meg Munn was asked what the Government is doing to improve information given to people before they travel abroad on holiday. She said:


“Well, I was in Greece recently talking to our consular staff there, and it’s a country where many, many young people go on holiday, often perhaps for the first time on their own without their parents; and what they’ve been doing is running campaigns which are specifically focused on young people.  There has been concern about young women getting raped in Greece, and so putting information on beer mats, having posters, which give the same sort of information you’d give to young people going out in the UK: ’don’t leave your mate on their own’, ’keep within your limits’, ’don’t go off with a stranger’.  


From that, we’ve seen, actually, a reduction in the number of rapes in Greece this year, and we’re going to continue giving that same sort of information, working on the hotspots, recognising the particular problems there are, and getting people to modify their behaviour.  Because really, these… these kind of incidents, it’s not just that they’re a problem for us in our Embassies, they ruin people’s holidays, and unfortunately they can ruin some people’s lives.” 

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