Saturday 12 November 2011

Foreign Office is urging Britons to remember that its services are reserved for people in real difficultly


Foreign Office is urging Britons to remember that its services are reserved for people in real difficultly, and not for finding out Prince Charles' shoe size The Foreign Office has issued a reminder to Britons travelling and living abroad that embassies, high commissions and consulates exist to offer assistance to those in real difficultly, and are not 'concierge services'. To demonstrate their point the Foreign Office decided to reveal some of the odd requests they have received over the last six months. One man in Sofia asked if the Consulate would sell his house for him, whilst another rang the Consulate in Sydney to find out what he should pack for his holiday. A lady in Moscow called the embassy complaining about a buzzing noise in her apartment, a caller in Spain wondered the shoe size of Prince Charles, and a man stranded in an airport asked the Foreign Office to contact his dominatrix. With around two million consular inquires every year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) needs to dedicate its time to helping British citizens abroad in the case of hospitalisation, death, arrest, forced marriage and child abduction. Jeremy Browne, Minister for Consular Affairs, said: “It is important that people understand the level of help we can offer. Our priority is to help people in real difficulty abroad and we cannot do this if our time is diverted by people trying to use us as a concierge service. We need to be able to focus primarily on helping victims of serious crimes, supporting people who have been detained or assisting people who have lost a loved one abroad.”  The Foreign Office has recently set up a call centre in Malaga to filter out some of the non-consular inquires from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Andorra, allowing embassy and consulate staff to focus their time on more important issues at hand. So just remember, there are simply some things the Foreign Office cannot help with, and where to get a Christmas lunch in Malaga, the location of the best fishing spots in Greece and meeting pets in customs in Dubai are some of them.