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Consular services - Individuals who encounter difficulties abroad web forum

Foreign Affairs Committee

The forum is now closed. Thank you to all those who have posted comments and contributed to the Committee's inquiry into FCO consular services. The Committee will draw upon the information submitted via the web forum as it continues its work. Over the next few months, the Committee will hold further evidence sessions and will conclude by producing a report with conclusions and recommendations for the FCO. Information about the inquiry will be posted regularly on the Committee's inquiry page.

The Committee would like to hear about the FCO's consular support for UK nationals and their families who have found themselves in situations of particular difficulty or distress abroad.

This could include people who have become ill or involved in an accident abroad, people whose belongings and travel documents have been lost or stolen, families of UK nationals who die abroad, UK nationals in foreign criminal systems (as victims, suspects, or prisoners) and their families, and UK nationals involved in international hostage taking and child abduction.

  • Based on your experience, how easy was it to get in touch with UK consular services when you encountered a problem?
  • Did you make contact via a call centre, online, or at an Embassy or consulate?
  • Did FCO staff provide accurate advice and guidance?
  • If required, did the FCO provide a consular officer to visit you?
  • Do you feel that the FCO handled your case quickly and sensitively?
  • Were you satisfied with the consular service that was provided?
  • Do you have any suggestions to improve the service or examples of good practice from elsewhere?

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82 Contributions (since 27 January 2014)
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Total results 82 (page 9 of 9)

Gary Spedding

31 January 2014 at 11:45

My recent trip to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories was prevented before it even began due to authorities at Ben Gurion airport. As a result, I found myself in need of contacting consular services but this was made difficult because the Israeli authorities confiscated my mobile telephone and invaded my privacy. The UK government should raise allegations that my privacy was blatantly breached by Israel, and also seek assurances that my personal contacts will not suffer harassment or reprisal. Once my mobile was returned to me I found it easy to contact the appropriate consular services, though authorities in Israel had ensured that it was already well past midnight by the time I was able to contact the embassy. This was after 8 hours of gruesome interrogations. I managed to make contact with the FCO and consular services through my political contacts in the British parliament, all of whom were exceptionally worried for my welfare. Once the consular staff were alerted to my situation, they contacted the detention facility at 9am local time in Israel to give me advice. Later that day they also visited me whilst I was in the detention facility. They brought me bottled water and some food. They provided excellent advice, given the circumstances and I felt much more confident after their visit that I would be treated better by Israeli authorities. However, I was not provided with any of their contact details (email addresses or direct line) so I could get in touch to request official documentation of what they were told by Israeli authorities and what information they recorded about my detention and subsequent deportation with a 10-year ban from Israel. In fact, I have been provided with no documentation from anybody at all after my ordeal. I feel that, given the circumstances my case was dealt with professionally, in a timely manner and sensitively. One important thing though is that I feel the British government and FCO could do more to safeguard and protect British citizens travelling to Israel and Palestine for legitimate humanitarian and human rights work. I was overall satisfied, but believe our consular services in Israel need to be more authorative and assertive when it comes to dealing with Israeli officials.

Wesley M

29 January 2014 at 10:13

My 28 year old son was living and working in Guangzhou in PR China. Whilst my wife and I were on a Baltic cruise, he contacted us to say he had gone into hospital with a chest infection. Unfortunately whilst there he suffered a fatal heart attack.The ship we were on docked in Amsterdam and we were informed by relatives via text messages.Although distraught we attempted to contact the local consulate office by telephone from the ship. The response was awful. Eventually we decided to take a taxi to the office to seek assistance. Initially we were met with a cold attitude, but once the staff became aware of our problem they were extremely helpful. My wife and I simply wanted to get to China as soon as possible. Obviously with Visa issues we were unable to do this. Eventually after returning home and obtaining the appropriate visa we were able to get to Guangzhou, where we were assisted via the consulate there, particularly by a member of staff who had been flown in from Beijing specifically to help us. This had been organised by the contact in Amsterdam contacting the FCO in anticipation of our visit. I can only say a big thank you to this individual he was by our side for the majority of our time in Guangzhou and can only be described as our rock, without him the repatriation process would have been made more difficult than it actually was.

Total results 82 (page 9 of 9)