x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Steep rise in Britons arrested in the UAE

There has been a 30 per cent rise in the number of Britons arrested in the UAE over the past two years, figures from the UK government show.

DUBAI // There has been a 30 per cent rise in the number of Britons arrested in the UAE over the past two years, figures from the UK government show.

That is despite a drop of more than a third in the number of British tourists to the Emirates last year from 2012.

The annual British Behaviour Abroad report found that the UAE was the fourth most likely country in which UK citizens would require consular assistance.

There were 261 arrests this year and last, compared with 244 in 2012-2013, and 201 in 2011- 2012.

Last year there were 626,000 British tourists, compared with 1 million the year before.

The number of expatriate Britons has remained static at 100,000 over the past four years.

The rise in arrests runs counter to the trend across most countries, with a 10 per cent decline over the past two years, from 6,015 in 2011-2012 to 5,418 in 2013-2014.

Mark Simmonds, UK minister for consular affairs, urged Britons travelling abroad for the summer to give more consideration to local laws.

“With the summer holidays just around the corner, millions of people across the UK will be looking forward to taking a trip abroad,” he said.

“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 [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] 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.”

Radha Stirling, of the legal aid group Detained in Dubai, has helped hundreds of Britons this year who have fallen foul of authorities.

“Since about February there’s been an increase in inquiries from Brits of about two cases a day,” she said.

“Some of them are probably not in the same drastic trouble that the British embassy is referring to, but there’s certainly been an increase.

“There are a lot of cases of people being in trouble for being drunk, and we just try to quietly get them deported.

“Sex outside marriage is probably the next most common thing.

“Abusive behaviour is also common, such as getting into trouble for road rage and being accused of flipping the bird.”

The report, released by Britain’s FCO, includes data on the number of drug arrests, deaths, rapes, sexual assaults and people taken to hospital in countries where there are a significant number of Britons.

The figures were compiled from cases reported to the British embassy in each country.

The UK mission in the Emirates received 499 requests for assistance in 2013-2014, compared with 436 in 2012-2013 and 348 from 2011 to 2012.

The UAE rose from seventh on the list of places Britons were most likely to request assistance, to fourth place this year, displacing Cyprus, Pakistan and India.

Data from the past two years indicated that the Philippines and Thailand were the first and second-ranked places, respectively, where Britons were most likely to require assistance.

The number of Britons who died in the UAE rose from 54 to 75, from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014.

The number of Britons taken to hospital remained steady at 54 each year.

The number of arrests on drug-related offences rose from 13 to 16 over the same period.

The number of rape attacks declined from four cases to one, while the number of sexual assault cases rose from five to eight.

mcroucher@thenational.ae