The number of Britons arrested abroad has risen 6% from last year, according to figures released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
This year the FCO handled 6,015 arrest cases involving British nationals, compared to 5,700 last year. The statistics also show that Britons are most likely to be arrested in Spain and the US.
Minister of State for Consular Affairs, Jeremy Browne, said: “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. Whilst 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 FCO cannot get them out of jail. We always provide Consular support to British nationals in difficulty overseas. However, having a British passport does not make you immune to foreign laws and will not get you special treatment in prison.”
In the past year, around half of the arrests involved people under the age of 34. According to anecdotal evidence from Embassies and Consulates overseas, many incidents are alcohol-fuelled, particularly in popular destinations such as mainland Spain, the Canary Islands, Balearics, Malta and Cyprus.
David Thomas, Consular Regional Director covering Spain, based in Madrid, said: “The police on Mallorca and Ibiza have a zero tolerance attitude towards alcohol-fuelled offences and we see many young people being arrested for causing trouble outside bars and clubs at night.”
In contrast, over 70% of arrests in Jamaica, Serbia, Peru and Brazil were drug related.
These figures have been released ahead of the full British Behaviour Abroad report next month.