Consular Services to British Nationals

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1 The Foreig ad Commowealth Office Cosular Services to British Natioals REPORT BY THE COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL HC 594 Sessio November 2005

2 The Natioal Audit Office scrutiises public spedig o behalf of Parliamet. The Comptroller ad Auditor Geeral, Sir Joh Bour, is a Officer of the House of Commos. He is the head of the Natioal Audit Office, which employs some 800 staff. He, ad the Natioal Audit Office, are totally idepedet of Govermet. He certifies the accouts of all Govermet departmets ad a wide rage of other public sector bodies; ad he has statutory authority to report to Parliamet o the ecoomy, efficiecy ad effectiveess with which departmets ad other bodies have used their resources. Our work saves the taxpayer millios of pouds every year. At least 8 for every 1 spet ruig the Office.

3 The Foreig ad Commowealth Office Cosular Services to British Natioals LONDON: The Statioery Office Ordered by the House of Commos to be prited o 21 November 2005 REPORT BY THE COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL HC 594 Sessio November 2005

4 cotets preface 1 This report has bee prepared uder Sectio 6 of the Natioal Audit Act 1983 for presetatio to the House of Commos i accordace with Sectio 9 of the Act. Joh Bour Comptroller ad Auditor Geeral Natioal Audit Office 14 November 2005 The Natioal Audit Office study team cosisted of: Neil Carey, Jey George, Wedy Alker, Matt Ray, Richard Rees-Joes, Kevi Summersgill ad James Walsh, uder the directio of Tim Bafield This report ca be foud o the Natioal Audit Office web site at For further iformatio about the Natioal Audit Office please cotact: Natioal Audit Office Press Office Buckigham Palace Road Victoria Lodo SW1W 9SP Tel: Natioal Audit Office 2005 Executive summary 8 Part 1 The FCO is deliverig high quality 14 iformatio for travellers ad has raised public awareess, but chagig travellers behaviours is a challege The FCO provides a extesive, ad geerally 15 high quality, iformatio service for travellers Improvemets i traveller iformatio have 16 icreased public awareess but have ot yet chaged behaviours i some key groups Part 2 The FCO delivers a very resposive 20 passport service agaist challegig targets, but its sustaiability is i questio The overseas passport-issuig operatio provides 22 a very resposive service Sustaiig the existig passport service is already 23 a challege The FCO, supported by the Uited Kigdom 24 Passport Service, is raisig its game o passport issuig security, but more remais to be doe The move to high-security biometric passports 26 raises major doubts about log term sustaiability

5 ParT 3 Cosular staff provide geerally good 28 assistace to British atioals overseas, but more ca be doe to make most effective use of limited resources There is icomplete iformatio o the quality 29 of service o assistace cases, though stadards appear to be geerally good Cosular Directorate is takig steps to improve 29 the delivery of its assistace work, with some success There are variatios i the delivery of cosular 40 services aroud the world Progress has bee made i defiig stadards, 41 but icreasig demad for assistace ad risig public expectatios mea that existig levels of service may eed revisio to meet greatest priorities ParT 4 The FCO has improved its respose 44 to major emergecies overseas, ad ow eeds to emphasise emergecy plaig ad testig ParT 5 The FCO eeds better tools to help it 52 maage such a dispersed ad complex busiess Some aspects of the staffig ad fudig systems 53 ca make it difficult to provide a efficiet service There is scope to stregthe cetral moitorig 55 ad the collectio of busiess iformatio appedices 1 Detailed recommedatios ad desired 58 outcomes 2 Study methodology 63 3 Iteratioal comparisos 66 4 Key stakeholder groups 70 5 Performace agaist the Public Service 71 Agreemet target Learig from a series of major uplaed crises 45 sice 2001, the FCO has progressed towards fuller ad more rapid emergecy resposes The FCO s defiitio of the package of support it 49 provides i mass icidets has evolved The FCO ca do more to icrease its preparedess 49 for crises, ad it is icreasig its focus o this area Photographs courtesy of EMPICS, Foreig ad Commowealth Office ad James Powell

6 preface preface

7 preface What are cosular services? Cosular services is the term used to explai a rage of services provided to British atioals overseas, ad whe ecessary, their families i the Uited Kigdom. The Viea Covetio of 1963 allows for the cosular staff of the Foreig ad Commowealth Office (the FCO) to assist British atioals i difficulty or distress overseas, although there are limits to what cosuls are able to do (Figure 1 overleaf). Figure 2 illustrates some examples of the wide rage of cosular work, icludig key statistics, pricipal parters ad typical FCO actios. Cosular activity does ot iclude the issuig of visas for foreig atioals to eter or stay i the Uited Kigdom. Where are cosular services provided? Cosular services are provided at over 200 permaet Posts worldwide where the Uited Kigdom has diplomatic represetatio, ad through Hoorary Cosulates. The term Posts is used to iclude: Embassies ad High Commissios: The pricipal cetre for diplomatic represetatio i coutry, ormally i the capital city. High Commissios are the term for the pricipal diplomatic missio i Commowealth coutries. Cosulates ad Deputy High Commissios: Satellite sites withi a coutry i additio to the Embassy or High Commissio. A miority are staffed etirely by locally egaged staff. May cosulates are situated i tourist or expatriate areas. I additio to staffed Posts, there are approximately 290 Hoorary Cosulates, ru by Hoorary Cosuls ad their staff, if ay. Hoorary Cosulates are ofte housed i the ordiary busiess premises of the Hoorary Cosul rather tha i a dedicated FCO buildig. Who provides cosular services? A rage of FCO staff are ivolved i providig cosular services to British atioals overseas, ad to their families i the Uited Kigdom. There are over 1,900 staff workig overseas at least part time o cosular services, comprisig: Uited Kigdom-based diplomatic staff: 1 I may Posts, the Cosul ad Vice-Cosul are Uited Kigdom-based staff, who are posted overseas for a limited period, ormally three years. I additio, the majority of those authorisig passports for issue are Uited Kigdom-based staff, for security reasos. Durig their careers these officers will ormally udertake a rage of postigs to differet coutries, carryig out a rage of roles; Locally egaged staff: These staff are permaetly employed at oe specified Post ad are ormally residets or atioals of the host coutry. Locally egaged staff ofte play a key role i liaiso with local authorities ad i traslatig, particularly with protectio work. They are also key i producig passports, ofte i frot couter work, passport productio processes or data capture. These ca be much cheaper to employ tha Uited Kigdom diplomats, sice the latter require housig ad allowaces; 1 The term Uited Kigdom-based staff refers to a member of staff who is employed from the Uited Kigdom (i.e. ot employed locally by a specific Post). I fact, Uited Kigdom-based staff ormally udertake a series of short term placemets durig their careers, split betwee roles i the Uited Kigdom, ad roles at Posts overseas. Cosular Services to British Natioals

8 preface 1 There are limits to what Cosuls ad their staff ca do Cosuls ca: issue emergecy passports, ad i some places full passports; carry out a rage of documetary services, icludig issuig birth ad death certificates; cotact relatives ad frieds ad ask them to help you with moey or tickets or iform them of your situatio; tell you how to trasfer moey; ad i a emergecy, cash you a sterlig cheque worth up to 100 i local currecy, if supported by a valid baker s card; oly as a last resort, i exceptioal circumstaces, ad as log as you meet certai strict rules, give you a loa to get you back to the Uited Kigdom; help you get i touch with local lawyers, iterpreters ad doctors; speak to the local authorities o your behalf i certai situatios; Cosuls caot: pay your hotel, legal, medical or ay other bills or give you moey; pay your travel costs, except i special circumstaces; give legal advice or ivestigate a crime; get you out of priso or iterfere i court proceedigs; get you better treatmet i hospital or priso tha is give to local atioals; do work ormally doe by travel agets, airlies, baks or motorig orgaisatios; get you somewhere to live, a job or work permit; ad except i exceptioal circumstaces, offer you assistace if you are a dual atioal i the coutry of your secod atioality. arrage for ext of ki to be told of a accidet or a death ad advise o procedures; cotact you if you have bee arrested or detaied, withi 24 hours of beig otified; cotact you i hospital; help you if you are metally ill; provide help if you ve suffered rape or serious assault, ad give geeral advice to victims of other crimes; offer support ad help i a rage of other cases such as child abductios, forced marriages ad kidappigs; put you i touch with orgaisatios who help trace missig persos; ad make special arragemets i cases of terrorism, civil disturbaces or atural disasters. Source: Foreig ad Commowealth Office 2 Cosular Services to British Natioals

9 preface 2 The rage, liks ad examples of cosular services provided Type of cosular service Number of cases Key govermet parters Examples of FCO activity/ assistace provided Travel advice ad Kow Before You Go 3.5 millio equiries via website or telephoe lie FCO Couter Terrorism Departmet, Security Services, Uited Kigdo Passport Service Publicised iformatio o travel iformatio ad coutry specific advice Passports ad documetary services: Issuig passports (stadard or emergecy) 453,000 full passports, plus 11,500 emergecy passports Uited Kigdom Passport Service (Home Office) Assess eligibility ad issue passports to British atioals after security checks Legalisatio, birth ad death registratio, other otarial ad documetary services 7,000 copies of birth ad death certificates Legalisatio of documetatio for use overseas; registratio of births ad deaths overseas; certifyig documets origiatig overseas for use i the Uited Kigdom, witessig ad legalisig sigatures Assistace to British atioals. e.g: 84,000 total, of which: Equiries o legal, health, housig ad employmet systems 66,000 equiries Host govermet authorities Geeral advice ad iformatio Icoveiece problems (loss of moey, travel documets etc) 520 Udertakigs to repay loas Uited Kigdom Passport Service Issuig ew travel documets; actig as a itermediary for moey trasfers; or loaig small sums of moey whe o alterative Detaiees ad prisoers 5,800 ew cases Priso Service (Home Office) Iformig ext of ki; visitig prisoers, esurig humae treatmet ad fair trial; deliverig priso comforts provided by others i poor coditio prisos Huma rights issues: child abductio, forced marriages, death pealty 400 child abductios ad 200 forced marriages Departmet of Costitutioal Affairs (eforces agreemets o child abductio); local authority social services; Forced Marriage Uit (Joit FCO/Home Office Uit) Liaisig with host govermet regardig legal proceedigs, providig lists of Eglish speakig lawyers, rescuig potetial forced marriage victims, makig represetatios where huma rights are cotraveed Victims of crime: crimial ivestigatios, hostages Ukow total cases, but icludes 200 rape cases Police Federatio, Metropolita Police; Departmet for Costitutioal Affairs Supportig victims of crime i makig police statemets; liaisig with Uited Kigdom police ad judicial authorities regardig ivestigatios Illess, ijuries ad deaths 4200 hospital cases ad 3800 deaths requirig cosular attetio Health Service; Uited Kigdom coroers office (repatriatio), Uited Kigdom Police Hospital visits; liaisig with local authorities ad Uited Kigdom police to iform ext of ki; providig iformatio o iteratioal udertakers, assistig with repatriatio Large scale evets/crisis maagemet Ukow Cabiet Office (crises), Natioal Crimial Itelligece Service (football) Devisig crisis maagemet strategies; fiacial support for victims of terrorism; providig iformatio to families, collectig iformatio o possible casualties, liaisig with Uited Kigdom police; repatriatio Source: Natioal Audit Office ad FCO maagemet iformatio Cosular Services to British Natioals

10 preface Duty officers: at Posts overseas, there is always a member of staff available to deal with cosular emergecies, 24 hours a day. These ca be either Uited Kigdom-based staff or locally egaged staff, ad this varies accordig to the resources available at each Post. Duty officers i may Posts may ot ormally work i the cosular sectio ad may have little or o experiece of cosular work; ad Hoorary cosuls: the FCO has appoited approximately 290 Hoorary Cosuls to act o behalf of the British Govermet i cosular matters. Some are British expatriates, others are host coutry atioals with promiet positios i the local commuity, ofte i relevat fields such as tourism. The FCO ofte uses Hoorary Cosuls to achieve represetatio i areas where it caot otherwise justify a presece. Hoorary Cosuls are paid a small hoorarium each year (to a aual maximum of 2300) ad most are also i paid employmet elsewhere. The time devoted to cosular matters varies widely betwee Posts. Cosular Directorate i Lodo also employs 180 staff. Staff here are resposible for maagig ad moitorig the global cosular operatio, allocatig resources, settig policy ad providig advice to staff overseas. Key sectios iclude: Policy, commuicatios ad traiig group Passports ad documetary services group Crisis maagemet group, which icludes the travel advice sectio as well as the crisis maagemet team Assistace group, icludig coutry casework teams who deal with the Uited Kigdom agle of all cosular cases, ad specialist advisers; ad Resources group The cost of providig the cosular service, ad icome received, is summarised at Figure 3. 3 Costs of providig cosular services Category assistace Passports ad documetary Total ( millios) services ( millios) ( millios) Expediture Uited Kigdom-based diplomatic staff costs, icludig Cosular Directorate staff i Lodo Locally egaged staff costs Other direct costs icurred at Posts overseas Post maagemet ad support costs Overheads ad cetral cost charges (depreciatio etc) Total Icome Source: Foreig ad Commowealth Office Tradig Accout for 2004/05 NOTE Cosular fudig is covered i greater depth i paragraphs of this Report. 4 Cosular Services to British Natioals

11 preface Cosular Services to British Natioals 5

12 preface How are cosular services provided? Figure 4 explais the processes ad iteractios for major types of cosular service. 4 How Cosular Services are delivered Overseas British Natioal Passports ad documetary services Idividuals ca obtai ew or replacemet passports from over 100 Posts overseas by applyig i perso or by post Travel advice Idividuals ca use the iteret or telephoe to fid out coutryspecific ad geeral iformatio o travellig abroad Assistace Post may hear of a distressed British atioal from a rage of sources, icludig frieds, host coutry officials or from the idividuals themselves Post processes passport applicatios, makig ecessary checks before issuig the passport. All applicatios are checked agaist security databases maitaied by the Uited Kigdom Passport Service ad supportig documetatio (e.g. prior passport, birth certificate). Additioal checks are sometimes required. These may iclude iterviews, additioal documetatio such as materity hospital records, or DNA testig to prove paretage. Post hosts a website providig local iformatio Post directly assists the distressed British atioal, icludig priso or hospital visits where ecessary Posts aroud the world Post is the term used to describe over 200 embassies, high commissios, cosulates etc aroud the world Staff at Posts deal with the full rage of cosular work Post is resposible for co ordiatig with host coutry bodies o behalf of the British atioal Host coutry govermet departmets ad volutary bodies These bodies are curretly ivolved with the distressed British atioal. e.g. police, immigratio authorities, safe refuges, health service providers Source: Natioal Audit Office 6 Cosular Services to British Natioals

13 preface I the Uited Kigdom Uited Kigdom Passport Service Resposible for issuig passports i the Uited Kigdom Close liaiso o areas of good practice ad policy Natioality legislatio This sets out who is etitled to a British Passport. Key Acts iclude the Natioality Act 1981 ad the Natioality, Immigratio ad Asylum Act 2002 Cosular Directorate The sectio of the Foreig ad Commowealth Office resposible for co-ordiatig ad supportig services provided by the Posts Advice to Posts Passports ad Documetary Services Group Advice ad guidace o processig passports Post passes relevat iformatio to Travel Advice Sectio Advice ad support to Posts Travel Advice team Collatig ad updatig iformatio from differet sources ad publishig fial travel advice Crisis Maagemet team Providig advice ad resources for Posts whe a crisis occurs Policy, Commuicatios ad Traiig Group Resources Group Liaiso o idividual cases Coutry Casework team Dealig with the Uited Kigdom aspect of assistace cases Cosular Assistace Group: icludes specialist advisers ad a huma rights team Team is resposible for co-ordiatig with Uited Kigdom bodies. Commo eeds are for service provisio o retur to the Uited Kigdom Team liaises o ay aspect of the case. Icludes: trasferrig fuds, passig o iformatio, requests from family to locate missig British atioal Uited Kigdom govermet departmets, ad/or charities e.g. Departmet of Health, Social services, Departmet for Work ad Pesios, British Red Cross, Prisoers Abroad Family ad frieds of the distressed British atioal Cosular Services to British Natioals

14 summary summary Cosular Services to British Natioals

15 summary 1 Cosular services are provided by the Foreig ad Commowealth Office (FCO) ad are a vital source of support to British atioals abroad. Services are provided i four mai areas: givig travel advice, issuig passports ad other documetary services, assistig travellers who are i difficulty or distress, ad dealig with major emergecies such as terrorist attacks or atural disasters. The Preface gives more detail o these areas. The total cost of providig cosular services i was early 80 millio. 2 Cosular services are delivered by early 1,900 staff, most of whom are based at over 200 Embassies, High Commissios ad Cosulates (commoly called Posts ) worldwide. A core of 180 staff based i Lodo provide advice ad support to those workig overseas, ad deal with authorities ad family members i the Uited Kigdom. Although the FCO provides cosular services overseas, its work requires good liks to other govermetal bodies, icludig the Uited Kigdom Passport Service, the Police forces, the Home Office, the Departmet for Culture, Media ad Sport, the Natioal Health Service, ad the Departmet for Costitutioal Affairs. 3 The FCO faces chagig ad icreasig demad for cosular services. Some 13 millio British atioals ow live abroad. The rise i low cost air travel has meat that Uited Kigdom residets are makig more frequet ad casual trips abroad, ad to a icreasigly diverse rage of destiatios (Figure 5). Easier travel has ecouraged trips by higher risk groups such as the elderly ad childre, ad by idepedet travellers ot supported by tour operators. The type of cosular assistace is also chagig. For example, icreased terrorist activity such as atrocities i New York, Bali ad Egypt, is creatig additioal demads for itesive ad rapid cosular assistace. Ad the diverse ad chagig ature of British society has also led to ew cosular services, such as support for Britos udertakig the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, ad work to protect victims of forced marriages. The FCO has also faced risig expectatios from idividuals about the level of support or itervetio they ca expect, fuelled further by itese media iterest. This ca i tur lead to pressure o the FCO to provide services which would ot ormally be withi its remit. All of these factors lead to heavier demad for cosular assistace, (Figure 6 overleaf), 5 More British atioals are travellig ad livig abroad British atioals livig overseas (millios) British atioal visits overseas (millios) Source: Foreig ad Commowealth Office NOTE 1 I Cosular Directorate improved its estimatio of the umber of British atioals overseas, through collaboratio with host coutry govermets i coutries with a high British atioal populatio. This led to a declie i the estimated umber of British atioals livig abroad. Cosular Services to British Natioals 9

16 summary which may prove to be urealistic or urealisable whe cosidered agaist the FCO s duty of care to its ow staff ad its limited resources for this work. The FCO aims to provide a high quality ad efficiet cosular service withi this challegig eviromet. 4 Agaist the backgroud of the complexities of providig assistace, we coclude that the rage of services carried out by the FCO is comparable to that of other developed coutries, with the Uited Kigdom beig at the forefrot of iovative developmets i service delivery i some areas. The FCO has take a umber of importat steps to respod to the growig challeges facig cosular services ad to improve the delivery of its cosular services. It is workig to better defie the level of service provided through a highly cosultative approach, ad has improved its professioalism to deliver a more diverse ad more effective service. But there are still areas i which improvemets could be made, particularly i ifluecig ad chagig the behaviour of travellers, ehacig the cosistecy of frotlie services, ad i equippig the FCO to meet emergig challeges. This icludes makig clear the limits of the FCO s assistace, ad explaiig that the appropriate level of assistace varies accordig to coditios i differet coutries. Figure 7 shows how the coclusios are preseted i the mai body of the report. We set out the key challeges for the FCO, together with high level recommedatios that have the potetial to build o the FCO s existig actios ad to improve further the delivery of its cosular services. These are supported by more detailed recommedatios ad the desired outcomes ad beefits arisig from these, set out at Appedix 1. Of course, cosular work is fuded largely from fee icome ad FCO will eed to cosider how best to implemet the chages we suggest withi its fudig costraits. We ote that cross-subsidisatio has meat that Cosular Directorate has, util this fiacial year, ot bee able to sped the full amout received from its cosular premium o assistace work (paragraph 5.8). Our methodology is described i detail at Appedix 2. 6 Demad for cosular services has icreased Cosular assistace cases Requests (000s) NOTE I , Cosular Directorate sought to provide clearer guidace for Posts regardig the classificatio of cases as cosular equiries or as cosular assistace cases. Cosular Directorate believes that this largely explais the apparet declie i cosular assistace cases Source: FCO maagemet iformatio 10 Cosular Services to British Natioals

17 summary 7 The Report s coclusios Part 1 The FCO is deliverig high quality iformatio for travellers ad has raised public awareess, but chagig travellers behaviours is a challege The FCO provides a extesive, ad geerally high quality, iformatio service for travellers Improvemets i traveller iformatio have icreased public awareess but have ot yet chaged behaviours i some key groups Source: Natioal Audit Office Part 2 The FCO delivers a very resposive passport service agaist challegig targets, but its sustaiability is i questio The overseas passportissuig operatio provides a very resposive service Sustaiig the existig passport service is already a challege The FCO, supported by Uited Kigdom Passport Service, is raisig its game o security issues, but more remais to be doe The move to high-security biometric passports raises major doubts about log term sustaiability Cosular Services to British Natioals Part 3 Cosular staff provide geerally good assistace to British atioals overseas, but more ca be doe to make most effective use of limited resources There is icomplete iformatio o the quality of service o assistace cases, though stadards appear to be geerally good The FCO is takig steps to improve the delivery of its assistace work, with some success There are variatios i the delivery of cosular services aroud the world Progress has bee made i defiig stadards, but icreasig demad for assistace ad risig public expectatios mea that existig levels of service may eed revisio to meet greatest priorities Part 4 The FCO has improved its respose to major emergecies overseas, ad ow eeds to emphasise emergecy plaig ad testig Learig from a series of major uplaed crises sice 2001, the FCO has progressed towards fuller, more rapid emergecy resposes The FCO s defiitio of the package of support it provides i mass icidets has evolved The FCO eeds to do more to icrease its preparedess for crises, ad it is icreasig its focus o this area Part 5 The FCO eeds better tools to help it maage such a dispersed ad complex busiess Some aspects of the staffig ad fudig systems ca make it difficult to provide a efficiet service There is scope to stregthe cetral moitorig ad the collectio of busiess iformatio Cosular Services to British Natioals 11

18 Key challeges ad recommedatios Challege: Ifluecig ad chagig behaviours of travellers The FCO has improved the cotet ad cosistecy of its messages to travellers i recet years, ad ow eeds to esure that it reaches ad iflueces more targeted groups of travellers. 1 There is further scope to better uderstad the root causes of assistace cases, ad to target hard hittig messages at traveller groups which do ot prepare adequately, or those which have historically required more cosular assistace. 2 I developig a cosular customer guide for assistace work, the FCO should cosider the key criteria it should use to establish levels of assistace which are appropriate for the coutry ad idividual circumstace. This will be importat i addressig risig public expectatios, establishig ad publicisig the resposibility of idividuals ad usig limited resources to best effect. Challege: Movig towards a more cosistet frotlie service to idividuals Although the overall stadard of service appears geerally high, at preset British atioals ca experiece a differet level ad ature of cosular service depedig o where they are i the world. Some but ot all of this ca be explaied by the variable levels of risk i differet eviromets. There are also improvemets which the FCO could make to improve the overall delivery of the service, such as through traiig. 3 Both icreasig the breadth ad depth of coverage of the Post review system, ad collectig fuller maagemet iformatio would assist the FCO i esurig that Posts provide a cosistet level of service, appropriate for the coutry circumstace. 4 The FCO should cotiue to work o esurig that crisis maagemet ad emergecy plaig at Posts is robust, ad should complete its actio pla arisig from the lessos leared from the Idia Ocea tsuami. 5 The FCO should seek to maximise the beefits from improvig existig, ad forgig ew, workig parterships with others to provide a more effective ed-to-ed service to British atioals, i crisis ad o-crisis situatios. 6 The FCO has made good progress i ehacig the professioalism of its cosular staff but still eeds to use traiig ad iovative approaches to further improve the quality of its service. 12 Cosular Services to British Natioals

19 summary 7 Passport applicats overseas should be give greater choice to obtai their passports from the Uited Kigdom or from the FCO, subject to meetig basic security requiremets. Challege: Equippig cosular services to meet emergig chage There are a umber of challeges to the future delivery of cosular services. These iclude the eed to develop icreasigly complex ad secure passports, ad the eed to better target existig resources to meet icreasig demad. 8 Give the radical chages required for the passport operatio, the FCO should chage its curret busiess model for issuig passports overseas. 9 The FCO should esure that existig cosular iformatio techology systems are fully utilised ad ew systems are developed to eable it to allocate its resources where they are most eeded. 10 The FCO should, i cojuctio with HM Treasury, regularly review the curret basis of fudig for cosular assistace work, ad should recosider the rage of cosular activities covered by its iteral ad exteral targets. CONSULAR SERvICES TO BRITISH NATIONALS

20 part oe ParT oe The FCO is deliverig high quality iformatio for travellers ad has raised public awareess, but chagig travellers behaviours is a challege 4 CONSULAR SERvICES TO BRITISH NATIONALS

21 part oe 1.1 High quality travel iformatio is vital if the FCO is to help British atioals to make iformed decisios about travellig, ad to miimise the umber of people gettig ito difficulties overseas. Chagig the behaviour of the travellig public is a difficult challege for the FCO as it caot force the public to heed its advice. Recogisig this, it aims to help travellers by offerig accessible ad appealig messages, targeted to reach key audieces. This Part examies whether Cosular Directorate is providig a appropriate, sufficiet ad high quality iformatio service to eable the public to prepare themselves adequately before travellig abroad ad whether the iformatio is effective i reachig its target audieces. The FCO provides a extesive, ad geerally high quality, iformatio service for travellers 1.2 The FCO uses two key mechaisms to provide iformatio for British people travellig overseas: Coutry specific travel advice for over 200 coutries ad territories is available o the FCO s cetral ad i-coutry websites ad through a telephoe helplie. There is iformatio o categories such as crime, terrorism, heath, etry requiremets, local law ad customs ad travel safety. FCO teams with resposibility for each regio collate iformatio from several sources such as itelligece agecies, the travel idustry ad FCO staff, icludig Posts overseas. Proposed amedmets are cleared with a cetral team at the appropriate level, depedig o the ature of the chage. Kow Before You Go is a geeral safety awareess campaig to ecourage British travellers to prepare better before goig overseas. Messages are dissemiated usig a website which gives geeric advice, a series of public iformatio leaflets ad awareess campaigs at travel trade evets ad covetios. The FCO also works with the Uited Kigdom Passport Service to provide a checklist for travellers with every ew passport issued i the Uited Kigdom. Iformatio covers areas icludig safety ad security, isurace, vacciatios, documetatio, ad keepig i touch. 1.3 Figure 8 overleaf provides details of four key areas which the FCO has focused o i recet years to improve the coverage ad accuracy of advice provided to travellers. Idustry specialists 2 we cosulted agreed that the quality ad cosistecy of travel advice offered by Cosular Directorate had improved i recet years, ad that it was geerally useful ad accurate. I particular, they cited improvemets i the clarity of the laguage used ad a better approach to assessig ad balacig perceived risks to provide a impartial view, although some cosidered that advice could be more tailored to reflect varyig coditios ad risks i differet geographical regios withi a coutry. We also foud that the iformatio offered geerally matched or exceeded the iformatio provided by other coutries (Appedix 3). 2 We heard views of travel idustry specialists such as the Associatio for British Travel Agets (ABTA) ad others. which iclude the large majority of travel agets ad tour operators i the Uited Kigdom. Cosular Services to British Natioals 15

22 part oe 8 The FCO has take measures to improve the quality of travel advice Area of focus Timeliess of advice Clarity ad cosistecy of advice Reachig clear coclusios based o risk assessmets Workig more closely with other stakeholders Details Sice 2002, Posts have bee required to cofirm mothly that o chages are required to travel advice, ad to re-issue all advice quarterly, or immediately followig a crisis. As a result, i the last three years the umber of updates has icreased by 70 per cet, with six coutries each postig more tha 40 updates durig More geerally, Posts ad idustry specialists told us that coutry advice was updated swiftly whe required, although some did suggest that there were sometimes delays i removig items which they believed to be o loger relevat. However, the FCO s advice is drive by ogoig risk assessmet ad the eed to reach a prudet, but balaced overall assessmet. There is a stadard template for each coutry which ow provides clear summary iformatio o the key cocers (Figure 9). Although the template has some scope for flexibility, applyig a cosistet format sometimes meat that facts which may affect sigificat umbers of travellers were ot always highlighted i summary iformatio, although they were ormally withi the detailed text. For example, i Dubai, cosular statistics show that alcohol ad drugs offeces accout for over half of the detaiee cosular cases. But the strict laws pertaiig to alcohol were ot icluded i the summary iformatio. Similarly, some Posts felt that isufficiet attetio was draw i the summary iformatio to basic but prevalet risks such as muggigs ad road safety, i view of the priority give to coverig risks of terrorism. The FCO offers graded levels of risk warigs for travellers. At the most extreme, this may ivolve advice ot to travel to the coutry or area. Feedback from travellers to the FCO idicates that the graded levels of warig were a useful tool i advisig about travel. The FCO has attempted to make this clearer through icludig iformatio o terrorist risks i all coutry travel advice, but ot focusig o this too heavily whe settig the overall risk level, uless threats are specific. I idetifyig risks ad possibly advisig agaist travel to a particular coutry, the FCO faces a difficult balacig act. Whilst the primary cosideratio is the safety of British atioals, the advice offered ca determie whether the public ca claim o their isurace i the evet of a cacellatio ad there are also diplomatic cosideratios give that issuig adverse travel warigs ca provoke a strog reactio from a host coutry. We foud o evidece that the FCO has bee uduly swayed by these latter cosideratios. Ideed, i Keya i May 2003, the FCO had issued adverse travel advice, regardless of protest by the Keya govermet. Cosular Directorate has set up a Travel Advice Review Group, comprisig seior represetatives from promiet busiesses ad orgaisatios i the travel ad tourism idustry (Appedix 4). Source: Natioal Audit Office 9 A travel advice summary Source: The FCO website, 12 July 2005 Improvemets i traveller iformatio have icreased public awareess but have ot yet chaged behaviours i some key groups 1.4 Chagig patters of travel mea that the FCO eeds to target iformatio at differet sectors of the populatio icludig differet age rages, social ad ethic backgrouds ad specialist iterests. For example, more tha half of holidays overseas are ow orgaised idepedetly of package tours or holiday operators, meaig that the FCO caot rely maily o travel agets to dissemiate travel iformatio. 3 I additio, the rise i idepedet travellers, the proliferatio of specialist tour operators ad availability of lower cost airfares ecouragig more people to travel overseas all have implicatios for the dissemiatio of travel advice. Oe feature of the chages i travel patters is that more 3 Research carried out by Mitel Iteratioal Group i foud that iclusive tours accouted for 47 per cet of the holiday travel market. 16 Cosular Services to British Natioals

23 part oe elderly people, those with limited fiacial resources ad support etworks ad those who are more vulerable through illess or disability are travellig regularly. The FCO has bee proactive i improvig its pre-travel iformatio to reflect chagig travel patters 1.5 Figure 10 overleaf illustrates the diverse characteristics of some of the differet traveller groups. The FCO has respoded to this icreasigly diverse rage of differet eeds through its Kow Before You Go iitiative icludig sigig up early 200 tourist idustry stakeholders as parters to provide publicity ad sposorship, usig a specialist cosultacy firm. A FCO commissioed public survey showed that awareess of Kow Before You Go ad coutry advice icreased from three per cet at the start of the survey i March 2002 to 23 per cet i February Posts also told us they believed travellers were becomig more aware of coutry advice, although the Kow Before You Go website was still ot widely accessed, with fewer visits tha to coutry specific advice, eve though the two areas of the website are liked. Whilst awareess of traveller iformatio is icreasig, the FCO has recogised there is further scope to chage the behaviour of some groups of travellers ad is thikig about the way it targets key risk groups 1.6 There have bee some sigs of improvemet i awareess ad public behaviour. The 2004 FCO survey showed public awareess of the availability of traveller iformatio is improvig. A declie of eight per cet i the umber of assistace cases i may also idicate the growig ifluece of traveller iformatio, although a declie was already expected due to recategorisatio betwee equiries ad assistace cases. But the umber of people readig ad actig o travel advice is still relatively low. There are several measures for assessig the impact of travel advice, but all show a relatively low level of peetratio. For example, i 2004 there were 5 millio equiries i total, (4.9 millio via the FCO website 5 ad 100,000 via the call cetre), which equates to oly eight per cet of the 65 millio overseas trips take by the British public every year. Posts also support the view that may of their cosular customers had ot read travel advice. 86 per cet of Posts who expressed a view believed that coutry advice was oly seldom or sometimes read by travellers to the coutry. Oe effect of the limited public take-up of travel advice is the amout of time ad effort which i-coutry cosular staff told us they had to sped assistig travellers i cases where greater awareess ad plaig before travellig may have preveted problems occurrig. Commo causes of avoidable assistace cases are: Isufficiet or o isurace; Lack of fuds; Dagerous activities; Pre-existig medical coditios, icludig psychiatric coditios; Failure to recogise particular risks i perceived safe coutries, such as safety whe hirig scooters, local police attitudes to domestic disputes, or ufamiliar road layouts or rules; Immigratio offeces such as overstayig o their visas, without realisig that this ca result i detetio ad heavy fies; Crimial offeces, iappropriate or culturally isesitive behaviour; ad Low uderstadig of local laws ad customs, such as possessio of prescriptio medicies or public displays of affectio i some Middle Easter coutries. 4 FCO commissioed Presciet Ltd to carry out a logitudial study etitled Project Holiday to track the impact of its awareess campaig for FCO travel iformatio sice 2002, ad to uderstad how this affects the attitudes ad behaviour of the British public whilst abroad. 5 The figure of 4.9 millio reflects the umber of times travel advice pages were viewed so therefore probably overstates the umber of users, as the same perso ofte views a page more tha oce. FCO data shows 2.1 millio Visits to Travel Advice pages. This figure will be lower tha the actual umber of visitors as some computer users have disabled the fuctio which would allow the iformatio to be logged. The actual umber of visitors is therefore somewhere betwee 2.1 millio ad 4.9 millio people but is impossible to validate. Cosular Services to British Natioals 17

24 part oe 10 The characteristics of key traveller groups vary widely Package holiday-makers Historically the most commo travel group. Geerally travel to low risk coutries (Europe ad North America). Tour operators ofte require adequate isurace. Basic advice eeds commo sese ad risks are similar to those faced at home. Idividuals assume tour operators will take resposibility for their safety. May do ot iform themselves adequately of local laws ad coditios. Busiess travellers Majority of trips withi Europe ad North America. Risig risk due to growth of ivestmet ad busiess travel i less familiar/higher-risk coutries. Idividuals assume employers will take resposibility for their safety. Capacity to cope varies betwee compaies from large multiatioal compaies to small ad medium sized eterprises. Travellers takig short breaks Majority of trips withi Europe or North America. Trips ofte arraged idepedetly. Travellers goig o short breaks rarely iform themselves adequately, particularly if travellig to safe coutries. Travellers ofte uisured for short breaks. Idepedet travellers Potetially high exposure to risk (depedig o destiatio). High proportio of youg travellers, icludig those takig a gap year. May visit families or frieds. With the absece of tour operators or employers, idepedet travellers are more aware of their ow resposibilities for their safety although ot ecessarily whe thigs go wrog. Sometimes limited fiacial resources. Adveture holiday makers High icidece of travel to risky destiatios. Participate i risky activities, sometimes without adequate travel isurace. May are aware of appropriate steps to protect themselves, but some disregard advice to seek thrills. Source: Natioal Audit Office 18 Cosular Services to British Natioals

25 part oe 1.7 The 2004 FCO survey highlighted that there are particular groups of travellers who most eed to be iflueced. For example, youger people ad those goig o short visits or busiess trips are less likely to take out appropriate travel isurace (Figure 11). It also appears that travel advice is proportioally less frequetly read for trips to Europea or wester coutries, which are largely perceived to be safe. Other key target groups iclude those who have poor readig skills or a short attetio spa, have disabilities or illess, or are idepedet travellers. 11 Certai key groups are less likely to obtai appropriate travel isurace 82% of people arrage travel isurace of which 1.8 Ultimately, takig appropriate precautios before travellig is a persoal decisio. The FCO caot force people to access travel advice, or to heed the advice. Cosular Directorate has ru campaigs with hard hittig messages, puttig case examples ad costs o the website to highlight the potetial cosequeces of ot beig properly prepared ad isured prior to travel. Further, i April 2005, the FCO revamped its approach to travel advice with a view to improvig further its impact o travellers ad has employed specialist advisers to develop iovative campaigs to reach differet target audieces. There have bee a umber of cluster campaigs aimed at core target groups such as studets, sports fas, the gay commuity, families with childre, ad holiday makers (Figure 12 shows some examples of such campaigs). The FCO plas to cotiue to evolve this work to address the costat eed to attract the public s attetio. 97% obtai isurace for overseas visits for five days or more 33% obtai isurace for busiess related trips 12 The FCO has bee attemptig to reach differet target audieces i differet ways 66% obtai isurace for log weeked breaks of this category, a smaller proportio of youger travellers take out travel isurace Percetage of people arragig travel isurace for weeked breaks (by age) Source: The FCO Project Holiday research GoGap year website, This website was developed by the FCO ad aims to provide comprehesive iformatio for youg adults who are plaig to travel o completio of, or prior to cotiuig their studies. Gap year plas ca ofte iclude a umber of high risk or exotic destiatios ad extreme activities, so they are a importat group to target i promotig safe travellig. The GoGap year website receives o average 1,759 hits per day. Over 40 per cet of visitors typed i the address directly which suggests cosiderable success i publicisig the site. British Lios tour iitiative. The FCO teamed up with BritishLios.com to develop a olie Lios ews service, for match reports, gossip ad evets, which also carried cosular tips for those travellig to New Zealad for the 2005 Rugby tour. The messages were set periodically to the computers of those who siged up for the service. The service ra from May util the ed of July ad was aimed at reachig specialist sports fas. The total umber of subscribers was 3019, ad the advert attracted a higher tha average viewig rate. Rough Guide to safer travel. 550,000 copies of this guide have so far bee prited uder the Rough Guide ame, fuded by the FCO. It cotais key advice o a umber of areas regardig makig adequate preparatios for travel, ad safety whilst travellig. The guide is free ad ca be obtaied from a variety of sources, icludig from the post office. The guide is focused at youg ad idepedet travellers, who are the pricipal market for the existig rage of Rough Guides. Copies have bee distributed with travel magazies ad have bee offered free through travel agets. Cosular Directorate is evaluatig its cost effectiveess ad cosiderig a cotiuatio of this kid of publicatio. Source: Natioal Audit Office Cosular Services to British Natioals 19

26 part two Part two The FCO delivers a very resposive passport service agaist challegig targets, but its sustaiability is i questio 20 Cosular Services to British Natioals

27 part two 2.1 Most British passport holders receive their passports from a Home Office agecy, the Uited Kigdom Passport Service. As a matter of policy the Uited Kigdom Passport Service does ot accept applicatios from overseas addresses due to security issues i sedig passports overseas by post ad the importace give to uderstadig local documets i prevetig fraud. The FCO therefore provides a equivalet service for the estimated 13 millio people with a etitlemet to British atioality livig overseas, ad i 2004/05 issued some 453,000 passports (almost 10 per cet of the total umber of Uited Kigdom passports issued) ad 11,000 emergecy passports, (Figure 13). The passports were issued from 104 of the 233 FCO Posts overseas ad represeted about a third (244 ma years) of the total staff time employed o cosular services overseas. This Part of the report examies whether the passport operatio has achieved a high quality service to applicats, ad cosiders the challeges facig the FCO i sustaiig its service i respose to ew challeges of security ad ew techology, leadig to icreased costs. It also looks at the major decisio faced by the FCO regardig the future of its passport operatio. 13 The mai types of passport issued by the FCO Passport Type Cost from July 2005 (Cost prior to July 2005) Number issued by the FCO ( ) Commetary Full Passport 69 adult ad 45 child (Previously ad 36.50) 453,000 Valid for te years. Icludes a cosular premium of 9.65 Adult ad 2.26 Child to cover the cost of the FCO s assistace services. Separate passports for each child have bee required sice Biometric Passport 91 adult ad 59 child Noe Will be phased i from Jauary 2006, replacig the stadard passport ad providig higher stadards of security agaist fraudulet use ad forgery. Emergecy Passport (previously 35.50) 11,000 Usually valid for a sigle ubroke jourey back to the Uited Kigdom. Normally issued whe the traveller s previous passport has bee lost or stole ad whe the applicat ca claim a urget eed to travel. Temporary Passport (previously 45.60) De mi (New Service from 2004) Issued i similar circumstaces to a emergecy passport, but provides flexibility to travel more widely tha a sigle jourey back to the Uited Kigdom. Valid for up to a year. Source: Natioal Audit Office Cosular Services to British Natioals 21

28 part two The overseas passport-issuig operatio provides a very resposive service 2.2 The FCO has for several years worked to particularly exactig Public Service Agreemet uderlyig targets o the time take to issue passports, arisig from egotiatios with HM Treasury over icreases i passport fees. The five day turaroud target was much more challegig tha the equivalet te days stadard service give by the Uited Kigdom Passport Service to applicats i the Uited Kigdom, though the latter does provide a oe day premium service at higher cost. Iteratioal comparisos show that most other comparable atios offer much less rapid services for applicatios made overseas tha the Uited Kigdom, with may other coutries offerig a three or four week turaroud period (Appedix 3). Appedix 5 lists all the specific uderlyig targets to the overall Public Service Agreemet relevat to cosular services ad shows, i , that the FCO oly achieved its five day turaroud targets i 73 per cet of cases, agaist a target of 95 per cet. The FCO s maagemet iformatio does ot idetify how log idividual applicatios have bee delayed beyod this target. The FCO has ow agreed with HM Treasury that from April 2005, its service stadard should chage to be cosistet with Uited Kigdom Passport Service s target of 90 per cet of applicatios processed withi te workig days. 2.3 From our aalysis at the te Posts we visited, we idetified three mai causes of delay. First, the itroductio of a process whereby passport applicatios are received at smaller spoke Posts ad the trasferred to a larger hub Post i a eighbourig coutry or regio for processig ad issuig. Whilst this approach has improved cost efficiecy, cases routed through most spoke Posts do ot meet the five day service target, ad ormally take betwee two ad five weeks to process. Aother key factor i delays is the difficulties faced by passport operatios i some parts of the world ad the eed to sped more time checkig applicatios. The case example i Figure 14 highlights the challeges faced i Islamabad. The third mai problem, with iformatio techology systems, is explored i more detail below. 14 Key factors slowig the turaroud of passport applicatios at Islamabad This Post, which operates i a difficult eviromet for passport issuig, curretly ormally achieves turaroud withi te days, compared to a five-day FCO target. A. Geeral pressures impactig idirectly o the five day turaroud of passport applicatios Risig demad: Some 3,800 cases hadled i compared to 3,500 i previous year. A historic backlog of icomplete applicatios: awaitig additioal requested evidece such as missig documets. The Post has reduced this backlog cosiderably sice October 2004 by refusig to accept icomplete applicatios, which has almost elimiated the presetatio of ew icomplete applicatios. We oted that the FCO s Washigto Post has adopted a similar practice, which is clearly a valid techique as log as it is made clear to applicats why their applicatio has bee retured. NB, the Post oly starts recordig its performace agaist time targets oce a fully completed applicatio ad fee has bee received. B. Specific delays impactig directly o the five day turaroud of passport applicatios Icreased scrutiy of suspect documetatio preseted by applicats: This sometimes requires cross-checks to local registers of births, marriages or deaths. Sometimes fieldtrips are required. The passport refusal rate at this Post has icreased i the last year, partly due to icreased vigilace for forged documetatio. Forged certificates are freely available locally. Decisio to ask for additioal evidece of etitlemet: Where the officer decides that i this case a iterview or DNA test is required ad must be arraged. Complicated decisios: Where etitlemet to atioality remais uclear ad has to be referred to a seior officer, or for advice to authorities i the Uited Kigdom. Passport productio systems uavailable (paragraphs 2.6 to 2.9) Source: Natioal Audit Office iterviews at Posts 22 Cosular Services to British Natioals

29 part two Sustaiig the existig passport service is already a challege Posts are strugglig with existig systems because of a combiatio of problems with supportig iformatio techology ifrastructure, software, hardware, ad traiig 2.4 The passport issuig process depeds o two mai iformatio techology systems: the Geeric Issuace Eviromet (GeIE), was itroduced from 2000 maily to produce more fraud-resistat, machie-readable passports; Omibase is a global database of all passports issued, ad was developed ad rolled out with support from the Uited Kigdom Passport Service. It eables Posts to carry out olie security checks ad icludes a database of lost, stole ad recovered passports. 2.5 The te Posts we visited recogised that GeIE had improved cotrol over passport processig ad that Omibase had improved their ability to check security details i real time. But Posts cosidered that GeIE had oly limited fuctioality i terms of maagig the passport operatio. Potetial improvemets idetified icluded automated stock cotrol of blak passport books, (which the FCO iteds to itroduce shortly), ad automated maagemet iformatio o each Posts performace i processig passports withi targets. The FCO plas to icorporate this additioal fuctioality i the ext biometric passport issuig system from The te Posts we visited reported that sustaied ad repeated problems with GeIE, Omibase or the uderlyig ifrastructure had resulted i delays i issuig passports, ad wasted staff time, to varyig extets. This raged from a complete loss of service for several days, through shorter spells of uavailability, to system slowess. The Omibase problems have also affected the service provided by the Uited Kigdom Passport Service. 2.7 More geerally, some 25 per cet of Posts which respoded to our questioaire believed that that the iformatio techology ifrastructure uderpiig GeIE was ot sufficiet. The problems arose from a combiatio of deficiecies i the mai cosular software systems, the uderlyig Foreig Office ifrastructure (problems at the server computers), or from iterfaces betwee the two. The effects of ay part of the system fallig over are worseed because users subsequetly have to receive permissio from desks i the Uited Kigdom before they ca be reistated o the system. Furthermore, those Posts i similar time zoes to the Uited Kigdom reported that the system ra very slowly durig periods of peak demad whe Lodo was o the etwork. There is a helpdesk for specific equiries, which Posts geerally cosidered resposive, but util 2005 there was limited capability for cetral aalysis ad proactive ivestigatio i respose to commo problems reported at Posts. The Cosular Directorate has recetly respoded to these difficulties by creatig a operatios team to trai users ad moitor the effectiveess of iformatio techology systems. The team has bee assisted sice August 2005 by a service agreemet with the providers of the iformatio techology ifrastructure ad helpdesk. 2.8 Recogisig its uderlyig iformatio techology ifrastructure problems, i February 2005 the FCO agreed a seve year deal with Hewlett Packard with a value of 180 millio to deliver Future Firecrest a ew ehaced iformatio techology ifrastructure for the FCO. This system should provide much greater capacity ad ulike its predecessor, is beig desiged to host webbased systems such as GeIE. The total cost of itroducig Future Firecrest is budgeted to be 320 millio, icludig iteral departmetal costs. 2.9 A further problem relates to the itroductio of machie readable passports. Techical issues affectig the performace of the specialised priters which prit the passports led to a high rate of spoiled passports, repeat pritig ad delay. The FCO had recogised the potetial problems but decided to accept them because of the exteral deadlies they faced for coversio to machie readable passports. No compesatio was received for this from the supplier. Rates of spoilt passports have falle as staff have got more used to the machiery. But oly 54 per cet of Posts that respoded to our ivitatio to commet reported that equipmet is geerally adequate. Reasos we idetified for the poor performace icluded limited iitial traiig ad delays i repairig or replacig broke equipmet because service ad parts have to be requested via the Uited Kigdom, which poses a risk to cotiuity of service delivery. The establishmet of a ew operatios team (paragraph 2.7), should help i addressig these problems. Cosular Services to British Natioals 23

30 part two The complex ature of the FCO s overseas passport operatio meas customer charges are relatively high ad risig 2.10 I lie with logstadig govermet requiremets, the FCO is required to recover the full cost of issuig passports. To comply with this requiremet the FCO raised fees by 22 per cet i mid-2005 (Figure 13), i part because it realised that costs are higher tha previously estimated (paragraph 5.8) ad partly to fiace the cost of trasitio to more secure, biometric, passports. The FCO s fees are 64 per cet higher tha the Uited Kigdom Passport Service s charge for a stadard adult passport though lower tha the Uited Kigdom Passport Service s 89 premium service for same-day collectio (both these latter fees are due to icrease i December 2005). The key reaso for this disparity is that the Uited Kigdom Passport Service reaps the beefits of much greater ecoomies of scale, producig te times as may passports from seve (as opposed to 104) locatios. I compariso FCO Posts are depedet o less capable, low volume scaers ad priters, makig their operatios more labour itesive. Appedix 3 shows that the FCO s passport fees are higher tha those levied by most comparable coutries, ad are double the cost i some coutries, though the FCO cosiders it likely that may other coutries are ot recoverig the full costs of their passport services, ad the iclusio of a cosular premium of 9.65 to fud assistace work is also a distortig factor. Nor do other coutries maitai as large ad accessible a passport issuig etwork as does the Uited Kigdom, with most havig largely repatriated passport productio (Appedix 3). However, the large umber of Britos livig outside the Uited Kigdom, ad the British tedecy to travel icreasigly widely, are also factors. The FCO, supported by the Uited Kigdom Passport Service, is raisig its game o passport issuig security, but more remais to be doe Fraudulet applicatios for passports pose a real threat, but little is kow about how may passports are issued icorrectly overseas 2.11 The FCO does ot collect robust maagemet iformatio agaist which to assess the extet to which passports are issued icorrectly overseas ad does ot set targets for this aspect of its service. There is evidece, however, that idividuals do sometimes attempt to obtai passports frauduletly from overseas Posts. For example, some Posts routiely experiece fraudulet passport applicatios by those usig forged documetatio or claimig bogus family relatioships. I additio, there have bee examples of idividuals tryig to obtai multiple travel documets for crimial purposes, through applicatios to differet British Cosulates. Whilst the Foreig ad Commowealth Office ad the Uited Kigdom Passport Service were already workig o ehaced security, for example by developig databases which show applicats previous history of passport applicatios, some Posts, particularly o the Idia sub-cotiet or i West Africa, cotiue to face a high icidece of fraudulet applicatios for passports The Uited Kigdom Passport Service is developig quality targets to cover icorrect issue of Uited Kigdomissued passports, buildig o a radom quality ad security check system they have operated sice At preset, the FCO does ot have a aalogous quality assurace regime. Puttig such a system i place i such a highly dispersed operatio would icur substatial additioal cost. 24 Cosular Services to British Natioals

31 part two The FCO is doig more to tackle cotrol issues ad fraud i passport issuig, although more remais to be doe 2.13 The FCO, like the Uited Kigdom Passport Service, has made a umber of improvemets i its security arragemets i recet years, icludig itroducig the GeIE system ad Omibase database (paragraph 2.4) ad additioal checks o selected applicats (such as DNA testig). However, there is a questio as to how far the FCO will be able to cotiue to raise its game with respect to a icreasigly demadig ad high techology passport security ageda i the future. For example, the Uited Kigdom Passport Service, which has util ow rarely called applicats to iterview, is ow puttig i place arragemets whereby they will iterview applicats for first time Uited Kigdom-issued passports from 2006 ad others from I cotrast, the FCO curretly relies o Posts to make decisios o a risk-assessed basis, iterviewig more ofte i what are perceived to be higher risk coutries. Whilst the FCO iteds to iterview more applicats i future, particularly whe almost all applicats are expected to be required to atted for biometric data erolmet (see phase two i Figure 15), the fact that its approach differs from Uited Kigdom Passport Service meas that the Uited Kigdom passport issuig operatio as a whole operates to icosistet security stadards The risk based method adopted by the FCO is sesible i priciple, but poses a sigificat challege for the FCO to moitor ad maage the way i which the 104 passport issuig Posts apply the approach. Notably, the FCO does ot hold data o curret iterview rates. We foud some variatio i practices at the Posts we visited. As a perceived high risk Post, Islamabad did most to validate ew applicatios, udertakig field trips, DNA tests ad iterviews. The other Posts we visited, where the risks appeared lower but still at least as sigificat as i the Uited Kigdom, teded to take such steps very rarely if at all. I part the variatios reflect the fact that Posts are ievitably most directly aware of local circumstaces ad risks, but some observed that specific traiig to ehace their ability to spot forgeries would help to cofirm whether ay additioal checks were required. Basic fraud sessios are ow beig icluded o cosular traiig courses to alert staff to these risks. 15 There are two differet stages of usig biometrics o passport applicatios Phase 1 biometric passports Phase 2 biometric passports Key features Digital photographs o chip Uited Kigdom passports will cotai the holder s persoal details ad a digital photograph stored o a secure electroic chip. This provides added security agaist forgery. Iris scaig ad figerpritig, from 2008 Uited Kigdom passports would cotai the holder s persoal details ad more advaced biometric data such as iris scas ad figerprit data, all stored o a secure electroic chip. This would be a more robust safeguard agaist idetity or passport theft ad misuse. Timetable Key dates: February 2004: Cotract siged with 3M for delivery of systems to FCO Posts. To be cofirmed, but if i lie with Europea Uio passport regulatios this would be by Jauary September to December 2005: Pilot schemes for issue of biometric passports at its embassies i Paris ad Washigto. Jauary to April 2006: Roll-out of biometric system to 104 FCO Posts overseas. July 2006: Uited Kigdom Passport Service to complete coversio to biometric passports. Source: Natioal Audit Office Cosular Services to British Natioals 25

32 part two The move to high-security biometric passports raises major doubts about log term sustaiability 2.15 The use of biometrics provides a greater measure of security of persoal idetificatio data, ad is beig itroduced by the Govermet o passport applicatios. Biometric iformatio is used to idetify people through biological traits, with iformatio beig digitalised ad held electroically. Figure 15 provides more detail about the plas for usig biometric data i passports. The FCO has had to make quick progress with basic biometrics, i partership with the Uited Kigdom Passport Service 2.16 The pace of chage of global passport developmet has bee determied largely by more arduous Uited States requiremets. The Uited Kigdom is oe of 27 coutries that qualify for the Uited States visa waiver programme, uder which some four millio British passport holders who travel to the Uited States each year do ot have to obtai a $100 visa i order to eter. Legislatio eacted by the Uited States Cogress i the wake of the September 11th 2001 tragedy iitially required that all passports eligible uder the waiver programme must be biometric by October 2004, although the deadlie has sice bee exteded to October The FCO ad Uited Kigdom Passport Service are joitly committed to doig everythig possible to esure that the Uited Kigdom remais withi the programme, ad to deliver ehaced passports that are more secure ad less vulerable to fraudulet use The Uited Kigdom project is broadly keepig pace with other comparable coutries. Italy, Spai ad Germay are all aimig to itroduce a ew system by the ed of The Uited States pla has bee to begi pilot productio of biometric passports i late autum 2005 by issuig official biometric passports to its govermet employees. Although ot all cotracts have bee fialised, it iteds to complete the rollout of biometric passports ad to istall biometric-compatible readers at immigratio desks at Uited States ports by its ow deadlie of October But the Uited Kigdom, as others, must still overcome a umber of sigificat risks which are summarised i Figure 16. Movig to the ext stage of biometric passports will require a step chage i techology, be more challegig ad costly ad could result i fudametal chages to the FCO s passport busiess 2.18 There is a firm presumptio from statemets by the Uited States authorities ad by Iteratioal Civil Aviatio Orgaisatio that the developmet of biometrics will ot stop with the use of digital photographs, but would be ehaced by the Europea Uio passport regulatio to icorporate figerprit ad possibly iris data o the microchip withi passports. Questios of how to collect figerprit data overseas ad trasmittig them have ot yet bee cosidered i detail. But as Figure 15 above highlights, respodig to these developmets will be more techically demadig, risky ad expesive tha the programme to meet the 2006 deadlie. The FCO is cosiderig its optios for the ext geeratio of biometric passports As Appedix 3 shows, most other comparable coutries have already repatriated their passport service to their home coutries, i part to improve security, but also recogisig that this is a more cost effective, albeit slower service for applicats. Two of the optios which the FCO has cosidered i respose to the challeges of deliverig ext geeratio biometric passports iclude repatriatio to the Uited Kigdom of either: passport applicatio examiatio ad decisiomakig for all straightforward passport reewals, particularly those that do ot require ispectio of local documetatio; ad /or passport productio, either to the Uited Kigdom Passport Service or to FCO-ru facilities i either Uited Kigdom or at a reduced umber of global hubs. 26 Cosular Services to British Natioals

33 part two 16 Key risks ad ucertaities over the delivery of biometric passports Risks to Phase 1 biometric passports Risks to Phase 2 biometric passports Stadards Detailed techical stadards for data ad media i the area, promulgated by the Iteratioal Civil Aviatio Orgaisatio, are still fluid ad could still cotribute to a situatio where biometric passports ad passport readers at poits of etry do ot work well together. The techology is still evolvig rapidly ad the associated techical stadards i iris scaig ad figerprit digitisatio are as yet ucertai. The FCO ad Uited Kigdom Passport Service have ot yet committed to a particular techical solutio to gather the ecessary biometric data. Ifrastructure The limitatios of the FCO s existig passport system ad iformatio techology ifrastructure. For example work is still required to miimise the strai that the trasmissio of secure data betwee Posts ad the Uited Kigdom will place o the iformatio techology etwork. The, as yet udetermied, volumes of electroic data to be hadled could have implicatios for the FCO s existig iformatio techology ifrastructure. Suppliers The availability of sufficiet prited passport books ad silico chips that meet the required techical stadard at a time whe may atios are scourig for supplies. The FCO previously ecoutered difficulties with the supply of passport books whe implemetig machie readable passports. Service level agreemets for ogoig support are beig egotiated with suppliers who maitai the iformatio techology ifrastructure, ad with the biometric system supplier 3M. The evetual supply strategy will deped o the chose techical solutio. Erolmet Applicats ca still submit their applicatios by post, without attedig i perso Applicats would have to lodge their prits or iris scas persoally through face to face erolmet. The FCO may have to provide for i the regio of a millio persoal calls a year by Uited Kigdom atioals for biometric erolmet at locatios aroud the world. Viable optios iclude direct co-operatio with other coutries or through the private sector. Aother alterative would be for applicats to travel back to the Uited Kigdom, although this is ot likely to be a realistic optio for may applicats. Most passportissuig Posts could ot cope with this level of activity without a major ehacemet of visitor facilities. Costs The FCO has sought to reduce the risks ad costs of implemetig a iitial biometrics capability by upgradig its existig system. Whilst the coversio cost is relatively modest, some 3.7millio i capital sped, with additioal ruig costs of about 1millio a year, as Figure 13 shows, the biometric passports will cost 22 more tha the existig passport. The costs of producig secod phase biometric passports are ot yet well uderstood. The best available proxy is that the UKvisas project to produce two millio biometric visas for foreig atioals eterig the Uited Kigdom is expected to cost 89 millio to set up ad 27 millio a year to operate. Source: Natioal Audit Office Cosular Services to British Natioals 27

34 part three Part three Cosular staff provide geerally good assistace to British atioals overseas, but more ca be doe to make most effective use of limited resources 28 Cosular Services to British Natioals

35 part three 3.1 Cosular staff provide help to Uited Kigdom atioals who ru ito trouble overseas, with the FCO facilitatig the provisio of assistace by family ad frieds, or i some cases, aidig directly where family ad frieds are ot able to assist. This ca be a highly stressful ad demadig role. I , the FCO dealt with 84,000 ew assistace cases as well as over three ad a half millio cosular equiries. The rage of assistace offered is wide ad icludes lookig after the welfare of prisoers, dealig with those affected by child custody disputes or forced marriages ad helpig victims of crimes or assaults overseas (a more detailed breakdow is at Figure 2). This Part assesses, withi the cotext of ever icreasig expectatios ad demads placed o them, the quality ad cosistecy of the assistace provided by cosular staff to distressed British atioals worldwide. It also examies how the FCO is tryig to prioritise its assistace work accordig to eed, ad to maage public expectatios. There is icomplete iformatio o the quality of service o assistace cases, though stadards appear to be geerally good 3.2 The FCO has two targets uderlyig the Public Service Agreemet target which specifically cocer the promptess of assistace work, relatig to cotactig detaiees ad hospitalised British atioals. As Appedix 5 shows, although it failed to meet some of these targets, the FCO achieved demadig service stadards i a high proportio of cases (97 per cet of detaiees i , ad 99 per cet of hospitalised cases). But a miority of Posts failed to meet the targets, ofte due to i-coutry difficulties. For example, i , Atlata i the Uited States did ot meet the target for cotactig detaiees withi 24 hours of otificatio of the arrest i ay of its 36 cases because of staff shortages. 3.3 Util a ew target was itroduced i April 2005 (Appedix 5), Cosular Directorate did ot routiely gather iformatio relatig to customer satisfactio o assistace cases. However, observatio durig our Post visits ad cosultatio with stakeholder welfare orgaisatios ad pressure groups suggests a geerally good level of service i the majority of cases, although the service offered did ot meet expectatios i some cases. This was due to over high expectatios regardig the role of cosular staff, or to the impact of limited resources leadig to prioritisig competig demads. The commitmet ad dedicatio of staff to achievig a good level of service was apparet, ofte uder difficult ad stressful circumstaces ad outside of office hours. Cosular Directorate is takig steps to improve the delivery of its assistace work, with some success 3.4 As described i the Summary, demads from British atioals overseas are costatly chagig. I respose, the FCO has flexed the locatio ad staffig of cosular assistace overseas, improved staff professioal skills, ad icreasigly worked with other agecies to achieve better results. Cosular Services to British Natioals 29

36 part three The FCO is evolvig its approach to esure that it has appropriate cosular represetatio across the globe to provide assistace to British atioals 3.5 To provide a resposive assistace service, the FCO eeds adequate represetatio i reasoably accessible locatios across the globe. The Preface shows how the FCO uses differig forms of represetatio to achieve this objective. Compared to similar coutries, the Uited Kigdom has a strog cosular etwork, with a presece i approximately 99 per cet of coutries worldwide (Appedix 3). Our review of assistace cases highlighted the importace of havig someoe o the spot to provide a proactive service. The use of Hoorary Cosuls helps i this regard by allowig the FCO to be represeted i both key tourist locatios ad difficult areas. For example, the islad of Bali i Idoesia is a primary tourist destiatio for British ad other wester atioals ad is approximately two hours flight jourey from the embassy at Jakarta. The Hoorary Cosul i Bali ad his assistat dealt with over 120 assistace cases i , icludig seve deaths, 22 priso visits ad 18 hospital visits, as well as other highly sesitive cases such as sexual assaults. Similarly, Hoorary Cosuls i Cali ad Medelli i Columbia, although dealig with a smaller umber of cases, were valuable i reachig remote locatios whe travellig is dagerous. Our visits idetified some coutries (such as Cyprus, Columbia ad Cambodia), where the appoitmet of more Hoorary Cosuls would help further to provide a more accessible ad resposive service, although fidig suitable cadidates ca be problematic. 3.6 Accommodatio is also a importat factor i esurig appropriate ad adequate represetatio. Our survey of Posts revealed that 90 per cet were cotet with the suitability of their accommodatio for their workig practices. The FCO does ot routiely collect detailed customer satisfactio iformatio but the data we saw at the te Posts we visited idicated that customers were geerally cotet with the facilities; however, some Posts were ot situated i the area where most British atioals are located, ecessitatig extra travellig time. We also oted variatio betwee Posts betwee public opeig hours, which raged from 3.5 to 5.5 hours each day. Each Post has discretio to set its ow public opeig hours ad the variatio reflects resourcig levels ad competig eeds, with a recommeded miimum of 25 hours per week. However, we foud that of the Posts we visited, half were ope for less tha the recommeded 25 hours. Further, i some Posts the opeig hours, together with its locatio, made it more difficult for British atioals to atted the cosular sectio i perso. For example, i Cyprus, the cosular sectio i the capital Nicosia is up to two hours from most tourist resorts ad opeig hours were 08:00am to oo. 3.7 The FCO is seekig to improve efficiecy i its etwork whilst maitaiig the quality of its service delivery by movig towards a greater umber of localised Posts ad Hoorary Cosuls. 6 This allows the FCO to seek cost efficiecies, give that usig Uited Kigdom based staff icurs sigificat additioal costs icludig housig, allowaces, child care as well as preparatio time, laguage traiig, ad movig costs. The total of these costs varies widely across differet coutry circumstaces. I additio, experieced local staff ad Hoorary Cosuls ofte have better laguage skills ad local kowledge ad cotacts tha a Uited Kigdom-based diplomat o a short postig, although the latter ca create opportuities to periodically review the operatio ad to spread best practice. Figure 17 describes a umber of alterative forms of co-operatio which other coutries are usig to improve the efficiecy of ruig their cosular etworks. 3.8 Iteratioal co-operatio is likely to become icreasigly importat as Uited Kigdom atioals visit icreasigly diverse ad more remote parts of the world. The FCO already acts o behalf o urepreseted Europea Uio or Commowealth atioals i may coutries, ad i provided assistace for over 3,000 urepreseted foreig atioals. But there are few locatios i which other atioalities act o behalf of the Uited Kigdom, ad we saw limited use of burde sharig withi a coutry. We foud that the quality of liks betwee coutries varied greatly, with little evidece of sharig of cosular assistace i matters such as equiries, local iformatio o host coutry systems, or o idividual cosular cases. Whilst there are sesitivities to be maaged, icludig possible laguage difficulties ad the reactio of the public, who ofte expect to deal directly with British officials, tasks such as priso visitig i remote areas could potetially be shared betwee diplomatic officials of differet atios. I additio, joit cosular operatios with other Eglish speakig ad Europea Uio atios could provide a cost effective way to icrease the global coverage of the cosular etwork. 6 I a miisterial statemet o 15 December 2004, the FCO aouced its plas for localisig its represetatio i 11 Posts by 2006, ad appoitig 7 more Hoorary Cosuls to provide support i areas where Posts are to be closed. 30 Cosular Services to British Natioals

37 part three 17 The Uited Kigdom ad other coutries have alterative ways of orgaisig their etwork Iformal or oe-off sharig arragemets: Coutries make uilateral or multilateral agreemets with others to provide cosular assistace. For example, Australia arraged with Germay ad Swede to provide cosular services i Libya ad North Korea. The Uited Kigdom has reciprocal agreemets with Commowealth ad Europea Uio coutries. Most recetly, it has reached agreemet with Australia ad New Zealad to cover cuts to coverage i the Pacific regio. Shared diplomatic staff ad premises: Some coutries, such as Frace ad Germay, are also startig to co-operate iteratioally to achieve greater represetatio ad coverage for routie assistace work. For example, shared Frech/ Germa cosulates i Newcastle, Bosia ad Moteegro optimise efficiecy by sharig couter staff ad overheads. The Uited Kigdom also shares its premises with other missios i some coutries. Joit ambassadors: Oe mechaism to achieve coverage is to make oe ambassador or cosular officer resposible for multiple coutries. Swede ad the Uited Kigdom both use this method of cocurretly accredited ambassadors, with the Uited Kigdom curretly havig over 30 such ambassadors. No-residet ambassadors: This mechaism is used to cover coutries where full represetatio is ot feasible or ecoomic. Swede hadles its iteratioal relatios of thirty coutries through ambassadors based i Stockholm. Source: Natioal Audit Office Staff are dedicated to providig a good service, ad improved traiig has led to improvemets i professioalism 3.9 Cosular work requires good iterpersoal skills ad a ability to act with sesitivity ad discretio. The FCO has recogised the importace of these skills ad has produced a ew staff traiig strategy to improve professioalism. Noe-the-less, diplomats ivolved i cosular work are usually ot specialists i this area, but take o a variety of roles durig their careers. Historically, may FCO staff have ofte chose to specialise i political or represetatioal roles as these were see as havig a more assured route to career advacemet, ad there are limited seior roles i cosular work. This cotiuous trasfer betwee streams meas that a large ogoig traiig programme is ecessary. The four-strog traiig team has developed sigificatly ad is ow traiig more people (a total of 595 i ), ad reachig a larger proportio of locally egaged staff through regioal courses, as well as providig systematic traiig for Hoorary Cosuls for the first time. I additio, a cosular ewsletter, released every two moths, aims to spread experieces, ideas ad good practice. Cosular staff ad exteral stakeholders we spoke to suggested that further improvemets to traiig could iclude: Ehacig the capabilities of coutry casework staff based i the Uited Kigdom, who are ofte oly i post for two years, ad have little or o experiece overseas. This was ofte raised by exteral stakeholder groups ad Posts overseas as a area of weakess. These officers would beefit from earlier familiarisatio visits overseas ad short overseas placemets to cover abseces at Post, equippig them to better uderstad cosular work ad local circumstaces, ad to develop good relatioships with key staff. Other coutries such as the Uited States ad Caada staff their coutry casework desks with a broader mix of experieced ad less experieced staff; Esurig that all remaiig locally egaged staff atted a traiig course. Despite improvemets, icludig traiig approximately 300 locally egaged staff i , FCO statistics idicate that 35 per cet of locally egaged staff have ot udertake formal traiig i cosular work withi the last four years, with most commo reasos give for this beig lack of fudig (idicatig a possible lack of awareess of fudig available from Lodo) or difficulties i releasig staff from frot lie work; Providig ogoig refresher or update traiig for more experieced staff, icludig spreadig good practice. Nearly 50 per cet of Posts who respoded to our survey stressed this, ad i particular, the eed for more regioal traiig evets to focus o discussig coutry circumstaces, workig practices ad policy ad maagemet issues; Better laguage traiig for Uited Kigdombased staff. Cosular work ofte requires liaiso with provicial officials ad staff believed that reliace o locally egaged staff to traslate ca be iappropriate i pressured or sesitive situatios; ad Further developig the duty officer system which is desiged to esure that a FCO official is available at each Post to distressed British atioals at all times. Some 75 per cet of duty officers reported that they did ot udertake formal traiig i cosular work prior to takig up their positio, resultig i a lack of cofidece ad effectiveess i dealig with cosular cases. The FCO is addressig this issue by improvig the rate ad cotet of duty officer traiig but, as Figure 18 overleaf details, there may also be scope to lear from the way Caada has tackled the problem. Cosular Services to British Natioals 31

38 part three 18 Iovatio i service delivery: The Caadia After Hours system The FCO s system Whe a request for cosular assistace occurs overseas outside ormal workig hours the FCO s ormal arragemet is that the call is relayed to a duty officer who is o call at his or her home. Duty Officers deal with both cosular ad other urget work outside office hours, ad are equipped with packs of relevat guidace ad documetatio to help them assist distressed atioals. They are required to be quickly accessible, ad are paid a allowace for beig o duty. The total cost of these particular allowaces is ot kow, but is estimated to cost the FCO betwee 500,000 ad 1 millio a year. Most Posts operate a rota for this duty, which is ot a popular resposibility ad ca create sigificat strai for smaller Posts with fewer cosular staff icluded i the rota. May duty officers are ot cosular specialists. The Caadia system Foreig Affairs Caada operated a similar system to the Uited Kigdom util 1993, whe it istituted ew arragemets, to relieve overseas missios of the fiacial ad huma costs of duty officers, ad to esure that distressed Caadias ca make immediate cotact with a experieced cosular officer able to give rapid assistace. After-hours calls made overseas to over 160 missios are ow automatically routed to Caada, where experiece has show that 97 per cet of cases ca be satisfactorily hadled. For the remaiig three per cet the Caadia cetre works dow a list of staff at the Post to fid oe able to provide urget local help, such as a hospital visit or to issue a passport. Savigs are ot easy to quatify give the gradual implemetatio process over a period of years, but the Caadias believe that durig the first five years aloe, the chages led to staff o-call cost savigs of $825,000. Costs were miimal apart from the acquisitio of telephoe callhadlig software, sice they bega the process by covertig Posts which already had relatively advaced telephoe equipmet. Foreig Affairs Caada reports high satisfactio with the system from missios ad from customers. However, effective implemetatio of such a system requires: Suitable call hadlig equipmet to trasfer calls to the home coutry; Support from overseas missios to provide the home coutry desk with a up-to-date database of the iformatio most frequetly requested by callers; A phased approach, startig with those missios most ethusiastic to make the chage. Sice the Uited Kigdom FCO has its ow system of allowaces to staff o-call out of hours, ad its ow ivetory of telephoe equipmet, outtur savigs from implemetig such a system i the Uited Kigdom may be differet. The effects o service quality though, would be similar. Sources: Natioal Audit Office ad Foreig Affairs Caada The FCO has bee developig its approach ad icreasig its expertise i dealig with a wide rage of cases 3.10 I additio to improvig the quality of staff through traiig, the FCO has improved the quality of its cosular guidace ad icreased the umber of specialists i Lodo to advise cosular staff. The umber of Lodobased staff has rise by 28 per cet withi the last three years. Cosular Directorate ow employs specialist advisers i law, policig ad social work, ad has specialist uits i key fields such as forced marriages, huma rights ad child abductios. A good example of the progress made is the Joit Forced Marriage Uit which, as described i Figure 19, has recetly bee relauched as a joit iitiative with the Home Office The FCO s attempt to professioalise its service has led it to tailor its approach towards differet types of cases ad to ew areas for cosular assistace. I additio to idividual assistace cases, Cosular Directorate is icreasigly focussig o plaig for ad respodig to a umber of plaed evets each year which may result i a surge i cosular assistace. This pricipally ivolves major sportig competitios, but also evets such as the Hajj, the Muslim aual pilgrimage to Mecca. Measures to deal with such evets iclude placig cosular staff at veues ad airports to assist British travellers. The Euro 2004 football champioship, held i Portugal, provides a good example of how the FCO s approach has evolved ad the iovative ad proactive approach which the Cosular Directorate took, particularly i areas of travel iformatio ad early liaiso with other key bodies (Figure 20 o page 34). The FCO is workig towards a more co-ordiated approach to esure that lessos leared from oe evet are dissemiated to other Posts Despite this progress, some areas of assistace are still problematic with variatios i the cosistecy of service provided by the FCO, ad some public expectatios are ot curretly met. A umber of welfare ad support orgaisatios have criticised the FCO s hadlig of deaths overseas, particularly the lack of adequate iformatio ad proactive support to bereaved families ad ogoig ivolvemet from the FCO. Groups such as Support After Murder ad Maslaughter Abroad (SAMM Abroad) have also highlighted the disparity betwee the level of assistace available to the families of 32 Cosular Services to British Natioals

39 part three 19 The Joit Forced Marriage Uit provides specialist assistace for a emergig field of work murder victims ad that offered i mass casualty terrorist attacks or atural disasters, with key differeces relatig to fiacial assistace, travel ad accommodatio (Figure 29 i Part 4 shows the assistace pla offered to victims of terrorism). The FCO believes that providig such a itesive level of support i all cases is ot sustaiable, give resource costraits, but has ackowledged that a expectatios gap has arise ad, as Figure 21 overleaf explais, is workig with some key lobby groups to explai its positio ad to reduce the expectatio gap i some areas. Lobby groups recogise the FCO positio, but cosider that families expectatios are reasoable give the uusual vulerabilities ad extreme circumstaces that ca apply i a overseas cotext. The problem: Forced marriage is whe a perso is coerced ito a marriage agaist their will ad uder duress. As such, it is very differet from arraged marriages, where both parties coset. Forced marriage is a abuse of huma rights. The FCO deals with approximately 250 cases per year; the majority of which are from Pakista, ad Bagladesh, but with cases occurrig i other coutries too. The majority are female, ad 30 per cet are miors, with the yougest helped to date beig oly 13. The respose: The ew Joit Forced Marriage Uit was revamped from the FCO s Commuity Liaiso Uit, which was a specialised uit to support Posts i dealig with these cases. Work icludes: Resposes to forced marriage cases as they arise. Staff at Posts, supported by the dedicated team i the Uited Kigdom, ecourage the victim to come to the Post, or i some cases, travel to the locatio at which the victim is stayig to rescue them. The FCO may the arrage temporary accommodatio ad repatriatio to the Uited Kigdom if desired; Outreach ad publicity campaigs. The FCO is icreasigly committed to prevetio rather tha cure ad orgaises outreach evets i target commuities; ad Liaiso with others. Guidace has bee provided for those i social services, police ad educatio sectors. The uit is also ecouragig better cotacts with o-govermetal orgaisatios such as commuity groups, cousellig orgaisatios, lawyers ad refuges. The joit uit is curretly udertakig a cosultatio exercise regardig the possible crimialisatio of forced marriage as a specific offece. Source: Natioal Audit Office Cosular assistace work has beefited from useful parterships with exteral stakeholders ad would improve further with more joied up govermet 3.13 The FCO has established a umber of parterships ad fudig agreemets with volutary bodies to provide services such as cousellig ad practical assistace with accommodatio ad fiacial support. These parterships work well, ad ca be crucial i providig assistace where services either fall outside the cosular services remit or the skills base of may of its staff. Parterships iclude: Formal cetral agreemets ad parterships: The FCO s Cosular Directorate part fuds key bodies such as Prisoers Abroad, a charity which receives a grat ( 150,000 i , reducig to 100,000 by ) to help it provide fuds, advice ad support to prisoers, both whilst i priso ad after release. ( Local agreemets: Some Posts have idetified key volutary bodies to assist them by providig a rage of services. For example, Struggle for Chage (SACH), a charity i Islamabad, provides legal assistace, safe housig, medical attetio ad cousellig for victims of forced marriage; ad Iformal liks ad liaiso: Posts develop liks with agecies i coutry who ca help them with idividual cases. For example i Lisbo, staff have developed liks with the local victim support uit ad a iteratioal social services agecy. Cosular Services to British Natioals 33

40 part three 20 Cosular plaig for Euro 2004 was a success The Euro 2004 Football Touramet was held i Portugal durig Jue ad July ,000 Eglad fas atteded. Plaig for the cosular operatio commeced well before the start of the touramet, with two mai aims: 1 To esure that as may fas as possible arrived i Portugal armed with sufficiet iformatio to miimise the likelihood of cosular assistace beig required. 2 To esure that sufficiet resources were i place, without disruptig the provisio of o-touramet related services. The cosular team used a wide rage of iovative techiques to pursue these aims: Uited Kigdom: November July 2004 Public Iformatio A carefully orchestrated media campaig O The Ball i Portugal to dissemiate travel advice, supported by celebrity edorsemets ad themed promotioal literature. Liaiso with Key Parters Detailed collaboratio with fa clubs ad football supporters associatios, to promote good commuicatio ad to dissemiate iformatio. Road Shows were held at importat Uited Kigdom football matches. Staffig Re-deploymet of suitably qualified FCO staff from Lodo ad other overseas Posts. Procuremet of extra office accommodatio. Lodo Liaiso with Key Parters Appoitmet of a dedicated football attaché from November 2003, who acted as a co-ordiator for all aspects of the football-related cosular operatio. Portugal: Middle Jue 2004 Iter-Agecy Liaiso Preparig for Cosular Cases Hostig cofereces ad semiars icludig Uited Kigdom ad Portuguese officials, to promote liaiso o areas such as policig, ticketig, accommodatio ad travel, emergecy resposes ad travel advice. Early cultivatio of relatioships with key seior officials throughout Portugal. Uited Kigdom Uited Kigdom ad Portugal Portugal Coimbra Airport Lisbo Service Delivery Teams of cosular staff atteded matches ad provided o-call assistace at the Embassy. Settig up a dedicated telephoe lie for football fas, made memorable by icludig the digits 1966, the year of Eglad s World Cup victory. Ruig a full-scale simulatio of a major cosular icidet. Public Iformatio (o arrival) Publicatio of 40,000 copies of Loely Plaet guide to Euro 2004 for fas. Productio of wallet size Z Cards cotaiig useful iformatio, distributed i the Uited Kigdom ad Portugal, at airports, hotels ad bars. Source: Natioal Audit Office 34 Cosular Services to British Natioals

41 part three 21 There is a gap betwee expectatios ad assistace regardig deaths overseas Expectatios of bereaved families Staff should be traied to commuicate sesitively with families after receivig ews of the death Assistace should be give to families of the bereaved whilst i coutry, icludig: Family to be met o arrival i coutry ad accommodatio booked Accompay family to hospital morgue or other arragemets Assistig family with paperwork i host coutry Fiacial support grated where required for direct expeses such as for travel abroad to atted trials, for traslatio ad for legal fees. Regular commuicatio ad updates with the bereaved family whilst i the Uited Kigdom The FCO to assist families through ay ivestigative or legal process, icludig: The FCO to provide iformatio to bereaved families regardig what to expect from the local court system FCO staff to accompay families to murder trials The FCO to provide iterpreter ad documet traslatio Where ecessary, the FCO should lobby foreig govermets for effective ivestigatios. The FCO s positio ad resposes FCO staff are traied i customer hadlig skills but are ot qualified cousellors, ad rightly rely o other agecies to provide this role where required. Where appoited, Police Family Liaiso Officers ca provide a key source of support, though their core role is to help the overseas ivestigatio team. The FCO is liaisig with police over the extet ad cosistecy of their ivolvemet i cases. Posts actios ca be costraied by the resources available to them i coutry. FCO staff ofte have to restrict the assistace that they ca provide i the iterest of havig sufficiet time to deal with the eeds of all British atioals. A recetly improved iitial codolece letter from the FCO aims to set out more clearly what assistace the family ca expect at differet stages. The FCO does ot curretly provide fiacial assistace for bereaved families outside of the assistace pla approved for victims of terrorism or atural disaster, due to resource costraits. Weight of work may sometimes ifluece staff s ability to be proactive i commuicatig with the family. The FCO is workig to provide clearer staff guidace o the regularity of cotact betwee cosular officers ad bereaved families. The FCO has also recetly developed a geeric iformatio pack for the bereaved, based o the Home Office bereavemet pack, which sets out practical advice ad key cotacts. FCO staff are ot legally traied ad rightly caot provide legal advice. For this reaso they do ot routiely atted court hearigs but do provide lists of Eglish-speakig lawyers. There are sigificat resource implicatios i traiig staff i the legal arragemets of other coutries. However, the FCO is triallig guides prepared by Posts o the host coutry legal system i some coutries. Iterpretig ad traslatig skills are privately available i most coutries, ad there would be a sigificat additioal cost to public fuds if the FCO were to provide these. The FCO caot iterfere i other coutries judicial processes, ad the UK police ca oly become ivolved i ivestigatios i a third coutry at the ivitatio of that coutry s police. The FCO ca, however, raise cocers with foreig govermets about the coduct of a ivestigatio where the coutry s system appears ot to have operated as it is supposed to. Source: Correspodece with key stakeholders ad iterviews with cosular staff Cosular Services to British Natioals 35

42 part three 3.14 The FCO has also developed liks with other govermet departmets i the Uited Kigdom which may be ivolved i service provisio, icludig social services ad the police (Figure 2 i the Preface gives further examples). The FCO has made some progress i promotig a more joied-up govermet approach through iitiatives such as the joit Forced Marriage Uit (Figure 19) ad usig qualified social work ad police advisers. But it has bee difficult to establish frameworks for co-ordiatio o other cases ad there has bee a lack of clarity regardig which departmet should take lead resposibility o issues such as medical evacuatios ad dealig with psychiatric cases. It may be especially difficult to persuade a Health Authority to take resposibility for a case if there is o recet Uited Kigdom address. Posts fid dealig with psychiatric cases particularly awkward. Challeges iclude havig sufficiet cousellig skills to iteract with the ill perso, obtaiig iformed coset for treatmet, egotiatio with host coutry ad Uited Kigdom health authorities to admit the patiet, ad arragig trasport back to the Uited Kigdom. Cosular Directorate is curretly establishig a work programme to help address this area. Figure 22 illustrates the problems that ca arise i medical or psychiatric repatriatios. The FCO seeks to balace the pressure to give fiacial loas to destitute British atioals, agaist the calls o public fuds 3.15 The FCO does ot routiely provide fiacial assistace to British atioals; rather it advises that idividuals should take out adequate isurace whilst overseas. However, cosular staff do help idividuals i trasferrig moey from other sources whe ecessary, ad ca, i exceptioal circumstaces, offer a loa of up to 100 i cash directly from the Post agaist a Udertakig to Repay. Larger sums of moey are loaed oly as a last resort, where the cosequeces of ot doig so may result i death or serious harm. I , 430 Udertakigs to Repay were issued worldwide, with a total value of 57,000, of which a quarter were for uder 100, ad oly six were for over 1,000. Larger loas had to be authorised by Cosular Directorate, which has correctly take a robust lie i limitig the umber of such loas. Applyig this policy has ot bee easy give the difficult circumstaces surroudig some cases ad icreasig expectatios by those seekig assistace. There is obviously a balace to be struck betwee providig assistace i cases of eed ad esurig that public moey is spet wisely. We foud o examples where questioable loas had bee agreed but, as Figure 23 o page 38 illustrates, we did idetify some cases where strict adherece to the policy had exacerbated the situatio of the distressed British atioal, take up more FCO staff time, or preseted the Uited Kigdom i a poor light with local groups or authorities. This implies that a greater level of discretio for Posts i issuig loas oce all other sources of fudig have bee exhausted would lead to savigs i staff time ad costs, although etitlemet would eed to be assessed agaist criteria regardig the vulerability of the idividual. Of course, the FCO seeks to recover the cost of all loas made i this way. 36 Cosular Services to British Natioals

43 part three 22 Problems with liaisig with other govermet departmets lead to complicatios i assistace cases: a case example from 2004 Situatio Uidetified ma foud i a distressed state i a Asia coutry. Take to a medical cliic. Uidetity discovered: Mr X had bee i the care of Uited Kigdom social services for may years Hospital bills still moutig... Mr X set to immigratio detetio due to lack of fuds. Local authorities believe he should be retured to the Uited Kigdom for further treatmet, but oly fit to travel if uder proper medical care (ot available) Imigratio overstay fies moutig i additio to hospital bills Day 1 Day 6 Day 8 Day 14 Day 23 Day 33 Day 44 FCO actio take Cosular Directorate agreed to fud stay i saatorium for five days while tryig to fid out ma s idetity Coutry casework team i Lodo ad Post attempt to obtai fuds ad medical assistace for repatriatio from alterative sources: Family ad frieds Social services Natioal Health Service No fuds No respose Refused. Not thought eligible No fuds Appeal refused Post, o its ow iitiative, foud a embassy official s spouse, a traied medic, willig to accompay Mr X. Without this, Mr X would ot have bee able to travel back to the Uited Kigdom. A Udertakig to Repay public fuds was issued by the FCO to Mr X as a last resort. Employer Refused Beevolet societies, charities ad collectios Isufficiet fuds Source: Case files ad discussio with FCO staff Cosular Services to British Natioals 37

44 part three 23 The FCO s strict adherece to its policy of seekig paymet from other sources ca be resource itesive: a case example from 2004 Situatio Mr A livig i Africa, is i poor ad failig health. Has bee residet ad workig illegally i coutry ad faces detetio ad fies by immigratio authorities. Situatio worseig... Health failig as eeds proper medical attetio. Risk icreasig that repatriatio will be more expesive if stretcher required. Host coutry immigratio exertig more pressure for Mr A to leave the coutry or be placed i immigratio detetio. FCO actio take Moth 1: The FCO tries to assist Mr A to retur to the Uited Kigdom: tries to establish the fiacial situaito of Mr A ad alterative sources of fudig. Cost of tickets = approximately 2,000. Icludes a medical escort s fees ad two flights. Coutry casework team i Lodo ad Post attempt to obtai fuds from alterative sources. Moth 4: Family provides fuds for repatriatio, but shortfall of approximately 100. Moth 6: Give deterioratig situatio. Post requests authority to issue loa to Mr A as a Udertakig to Repay but is refused by Cosular Directorate. Moth 6: Post sought to raise the additioal fuds through: Cotactig charities Raisig moey by sellig old ewspapers Pesio icome: Exhausted by curret debts Holdig a staff raffle, with prizes doated by staff Bak accouts ad property: Noe Family: All pesioers but will try to raise moey The fuds were raised but the case was resource itesive. Military charity: Uwillig has previously assisted Mr A Cumulative cost to the FCO is risig Source: Case files ad discussios with cosular staff Resolutio Mr A repatriated to the Uited Kigdom, usig moey provided by his family ad fuds raised by cosular staff. 38 Cosular Services to British Natioals

45 part three Sice 2001 the FCO has bee implemetig a ew casework maagemet system but the project has so far had a mixed respose 3.16 Our 1992 report o Cosular Services 7 highlighted the eed for a more systematic ad automated approach to aalysig the outputs of cosular work, to eable the FCO to better maage the use of resources ad moitor quality of service. Whilst most data has subsequetly still bee collected maually, i 2001 the FCO acquired a computerised casework maagemet system, called Compass, based o a system used by the Caadia Foreig Miistry sice 1993 (Figure 24) The Posts we visited cosidered that Compass was basically a good system with strog potetial to assist them i their work. However, the full potetial of Compass has yet to be realised. The system bega to be rolled out i 2001 but progress has bee slow, maily due to a lack of resources for traiig ad istallatio. By September 2005 the system had bee rolled out to some 70 per cet (160 Posts) of the expected total umber of users. But may of these Posts were ot yet makig full use of the system for a combiatio of reasos: There is ot yet a cosistet uderstadig betwee Posts of the purpose, potetial beefits ad use of the system. Posts that have bee early adopters have ofte lost ethusiasm as they fid that other Posts ot yet usig Compass have bee uable to exchage case data with them. Posts have bee usig differet elemets of the system to suit their eeds; To save costs, traiig o the system has usually bee give by telephoe rather tha o site, ad is widely regarded by users to have bee difficult to follow ad the outcomes poor. There are o detailed guidace mauals to assist users, though there is a helpdesk i the Uited Kigdom; ad 24 The Compass case maagemet system could be a strog maagemet tool Mai Facility A shared record of cosular assistace cases, cosistet betwee Posts ad casework officers i the Uited Kigdom, eablig each to have a cosistet ad up to date picture of developmets o cases. Also provides backgroud o customers with a previous history of callig o FCO services. Messagig betwee the FCO i Lodo ad Posts overseas Registratio of British atioals overseas. This helps Posts to idetify the locatio of atioals, ad to reach them if ecessary particularly durig a crisis. I practice oly a miority of atioals ted to register. Record of lost ad stole passports Resource ad time maagemet module Crisis maagemet (beig procured) Status as at Jue 2005 The core system fuctio, available to all 160 Posts o Compass. Some of these Posts use it extesively, others oly exceptioally. There is less icetive for Posts to use it to record cases whe eighbourig Posts do ot or caot. I practice, because users must be logged oto Compass to receive messages, most users ted to use ormal istead, particularly for urget messages Used by a few Posts sice Registratio forms completed olie o FCO websites by customers subsequetly have to be re-etered directly ito Compass by staff at Posts. Some Posts are also re-eterig maual registratio cards ito Compass, but slow ad itermittet system respose ca make this a legthy ad labour itesive process. A improved module for seamless olie registratio is beig procured. Lost ad stole passports ofte result i a assistace case, because the victim may also be out of fuds. Lists, oce filed, are automatically otified to the Uited Kigdom Passport Service. Not activated. Developed ad used extesively by the origiators of the system i Caada to moitor use of Caadia cosular resources, but time recordig is ot stadard practice i the FCO. A ew module for use i recordig data of missig persos i crisis situatios Source: Natioal Audit Office 7 Natioal Audit Office: Service to the Public: Foreig ad Commowealth Office Cosular Services, HC 75, Parliametary Sessio Cosular Services to British Natioals 39

46 part three Some Posts do ot fid the system to be user-friedly. Key problems iclude a iability to freely cut ad paste i text from laptops or other sources, ad to gather full maagemet iformatio from it. We foud Compass eabled Posts that were still usig clerical processes to compile cosular maagemet iformatio o their level of activity, for example the umber of assistace cases. System performace ad utilisatio has bee further compromised by periodic uavailability ad slowess of the FCO s uderlyig iformatio techology ifrastructure, for similar reasos to the difficulties experieced by passport processes (Part 2) For all the reasos listed above, Compass is ot sufficietly embedded ito daily operatios so may users are still bypassig, rather tha usig the system fully. A compariso betwee maual ad electroic records usage for a selectio of Posts which are o the Compass system idicates that usage rates vary widely betwee Posts. Takig this iformatio o board, a upgraded versio of Compass is plaed to be rolled out to all Posts from Jauary New features iclude better access ad avigatio, improved messagig, cuttig ad pastig of documets ad prited birth ad death certificates. There are variatios i the delivery of cosular services aroud the world 3.19 The FCO s approach to the provisio of cosular services i idividual cases allows Posts to use a high degree of discretio, a approach which is valuable i recogisig the importace of uderstadig specific i coutry factors (e.g. the quality of local health care, priso stadards ad other services ad the political situatio i coutry, icludig its huma rights record) ad persoal circumstaces (such as the availability of family or frieds). But there is basic guidace for staff i settig a appropriate level of assistace. A cosular hadbook is available to all staff workig overseas ad covers the fiftee most commo types of assistace case, as well as cosular cofidetiality, customer care, media hadlig ad maagemet issues. There is also a desk guide givig advice o case hadlig for staff based i Lodo. Staff foud this guidace to be well targeted to their eeds ad accessible The FCO curretly does ot routiely collect maagemet iformatio such as the frequecy of visitig prisoers or hospitalised British atioals. But our survey showed that the FCO s pragmatic approach was reflected i a more sigificat level of ivolvemet of cosular staff i more difficult regios such as Africa ad South America. We also foud less readily explicable icosistecies i the level of assistace provided. For example the FCO policy requires that British prisoers i coutries with satisfactory priso coditios (Europea Ecoomic Area coutries, Switzerlad, Norway, North America, ad Australasia) should oly be visited oce after setecig, ad thereafter oly if required. But Figure 25 shows that eve withi Europe there are some sigificat differeces i priso visitig practices, which caot obviously be explaied by local coditios or coutry circumstaces. It also shows a eve wider variatio i hospital visitig practices, idicatig that resources could still be better targeted to the cases with the most eed. Staff at the Posts we visited felt still less certai o the best approach to hospitalised cases, which may reflect the fact that guidelies for some categories of assistace work such as hospital visitig are less prescriptive tha for priso visitig. Curret guidelies for hospital visitig state that you should try to do as much as you ca for the British atioal, withi resource costraits ad to pay particular attetio to cases where idividuals are vulerable but does ot give more specific idicatios of the extet of assistace expected Discussios with staff at the Posts we visited idicate a umber of commo possible reasos for these variatios i approach. These iclude staff quality ad idividual areas of iterest, the lack of a tightly defied policy i some areas, differet iterpretatios of cosular guidace ad competig demads o time. Aother commo reaso was iterest by the media or by Members of Parliamet i a specific case which could iduce staff to provide a higher level of assistace tha ormal. 40 Cosular Services to British Natioals

47 part three 25 There are sigificat differeces i priso ad hospital visitig practices withi Europe which caot be easily explaied Frequecy of priso visitig to British atioals Twice or more per year Oce per year or less O request O setecig Never Reykjavik Percetage of British atioals visited i hospital % 60-80% 40-60% 20-40% 0-20% Dubli Oslo Copehage Stockholm Amsterdam Lodo Düsseldorf Brussels Prague Lille Muich Lyo Viea Bordeaux Bere Zagreb Helsiski Berli Bratislava Budapest Talli Riga Vilius St Petersburg Warsaw Moscow Teerife Madrid Marseilles Barceloa Florece Rome Tiraa Sofia Istabul Naples Source: Resposes from Posts to Natioal Audit Office ivitatio to commet Athes Rhodes NOTE 1 Percetage of those otified to Post Progress has bee made i defiig stadards, but icreasig demad for assistace ad risig public expectatios mea that existig levels of service may eed revisio to meet greatest priorities 3.22 The rage of assistace work carried out by the FCO is similar to that provided by other coutries (Appedix 3), although sometimes delivery mechaisms may differ. But chagig patters of travel behaviour, ad icreasig ad sometimes urealistic or ureasoable public expectatios are placig icreasig pressure o cosular services resources. There is the risk that actios take i oe case, particularly if it receives media coverage or political promiece, may set precedets for future stadards of assistace that FCO would fid usustaiable if geerally applied. For example, the FCO has resisted pressure to icur traslatio costs for coroers ad other formal documets, ad to atted court hearigs, although it has made some exceptios to this. Cosular Services to British Natioals 41

48 part three 3.23 The FCO has ot yet made a assessmet of the implicatios of icreasig demad for the future level of service to be offered. However, it believes that icreasig umbers of cases combied with icreasig expectatios over the level of assistace offered, will lead to a level of demad which the FCO will ot be able to meet, give its existig etwork ad resource costraits. It has take a umber of steps to address these pressures ad to cotai growth i the level of assistace provided (Figure 26). This icludes greater publicity regardig the role of the FCO ad the resposibilities of the idividual, ad maitaiig a robust but defesible lie i settig limits o the services provided, ad i tailorig assistace accordig to trasparet criteria based o eed. Dealig with the additioal pressures is further complicated by the difficulties of reachig British atioals i usafe areas, ad the FCO s duty of care for its staff may of whom have to deal with highly sesitive ad potetially dagerous tasks ad who are sometimes placed uder great stress. Staff are also icreasigly beig held to accout i legal proceedigs for actios take i the course of their duties. 26 The FCO is respodig to risig demad ad expectatios for cosular services i a umber of ways Method Stakeholder cosultatio: settig up exteral stakeholder boards Descriptio The FCO has set up a Cosular Strategy Board; its membership is show i Appedix 4. A umber of subsidiary workig groups have also bee established to develop its approach, icludig o deaths overseas. Defiig stadards: producig a Cosular Strategy Published after cosultatio with a rage of stakeholders, it sets out to idetify key issues ad challeges, ad to set out priciples for the FCO to address. This provides a clear guide to Cosular Directorate s strategic thikig ad visio for cosular services. Targetig resources to the areas of greatest eed For example, with the two-level priso visitig policy itroduced i 2003 which distiguishes betwee those i Europe ad those outside it (described i paragraph 3.19). Publishig public iformatio settig out service stadards The FCO curretly has leaflet ad website iformatio which sets out what a cosul ca ad caot do. There is, however, still o defiitive statemet of the cosular services it sets out to provide. The FCO is curretly developig a more detailed cosular guide, which will set out the services which the public ca expect i differet assistace cases. It believes this will preset a opportuity to attempt to proactively maage expectatios through greater clarity o the limits of assistace, as well as clear defiitio of idividual resposibilities. Champioig the idea of a Europea Uio Cosular Space The priciple behid the cocept of a Europea Uio cosular space is that withi the Europea Uio British atioals should feel less abroad ad more able to access local services directly withi the Europea Uio, eablig cosular resources to be targeted to geographical areas where they are most eeded. To some extet a Europea Uio cosular space already exists. Although the percetage of people who are travellig to the Europea Uio is high, the FCO speds less tha half the resources per traveller lookig after Britos i this area compared with the rest of the world. But some barriers exist to developig a formal Europea Uio cosular space, icludig the differig stadards withi Europe of healthcare ad detetio facilities, Miisterial, media ad public pressure; laguage barriers, ad difficulties i makig the arragemet reciprocal, with differig balaces of travel i differet coutries. The FCO is takig forward this idea durig Britai s presidecy of the Europea Uio, ad lauched the proposal at a meetig of Europea Uio Cosular Directors i September Source: Natioal Audit Office 42 Cosular Services to British Natioals

49 part three Cosular Services to British Natioals 43

50 part four Part four The FCO has improved its respose to major emergecies overseas, ad ow eeds to emphasise emergecy plaig ad testig 44 Cosular Services to British Natioals

51 part four 4.1 I additio to its regular cosular activities described i Part 3, the FCO must also prepare for, ad respod effectively to, uexpected icidets with high casualty rates ivolvig British atioals. This Part examies how the FCO has bee developig its respose to mass emergecies ad evaluates whether it provides a good service to those affected by a crisis. Learig from a series of major uplaed crises sice 2001, the FCO has progressed towards fuller ad more rapid emergecy resposes 4.2 The FCO has hadled several high profile crises sice 2001 with umerous British casualties (listed i Figure 27 overleaf) as well as other major icidets with fewer British victims, such as bombigs i Turkey ad Egypt, ad coach crashes i Jorda ad Austria. Recetly, the FCO has respoded to Hurricae Katria i the Uited States. 8 Learig from its experieces, the FCO has take steps to improve its arragemets for crises ivolvig British atioals, particularly after criticisms of its hadlig of the Bali bombigs i Such criticisms cetred o iadequate call hadlig for relatives i the Uited Kigdom, the legth of time take for the FCO to mobilise help o the groud, ad the adequacy of travel advice. I late 2002, a Crisis Maagemet team was set up uder a ew Crisis Group withi Cosular Directorate. The Crisis Maagemet team of seve has resposibility for plaig, traiig, ad co-ordiatig emergecy resposes, workig closely with other sectios of the FCO. 9 This ew arragemet reflects the icreasig promiece give to crisis maagemet issues withi the FCO ad i govermet geerally. 4.3 The FCO actio take i respose to the Idia Ocea Tsuami, which was uprecedeted i scale, has triggered further cosideratio of its approach to crisis maagemet. Figure 28 overleaf lists the mai lessos which we ad the Cosular Directorate have idetified. These lessos focus maily o how the FCO respoded to the Tsuami. They do ot capture the views of those affected by the disaster the families of the bereaved or survivors. Due to cocers of iflictig further trauma o affected parties, the views of these groups have ever bee systematically sought by the FCO after a mass emergecy respose overseas. We have therefore commissioed the Zito Trust to seek the views of those affected. We will publish the results of this work together with recommedatios to govermet arisig from it, i a separate report i The FCO has also recetly commissioed work to capture lessos leared from survivors for traiig purposes. 8 The FCO s respose to Hurricae Katria is ot covered i this Report, as it occurred whe the report was close to completio. However, we ited that a memoradum o the cosular respose to this ad other major crises will be produced i time for ay hearig by the Committee of Public Accouts o Cosular Services. 9 The Couter-Terrorism Policy Departmet works closely with the crisis maagemet team, co-chairig the FCO-wide steerig group which focuses o the FCO s approach to crises. Cosular Services to British Natioals 45

52 part four 27 The FCO has dealt with several major crises sice 2001, ivolvig may British atioals Evet Date Number of Britos believed to have died Total umber believed to have died Number of coutries afflicted New York attacks September Bali Bombigs October Idia Ocea Tsuami December c.300, Source: Natioal Audit Office The FCO is cosidered a world leader i developig its cetral emergecy respose 4.4 FCO cosular staff at Posts have proved to be willig ad dedicated i assistig British atioals i emergecy situatios, but sometimes they require additioal help to mout a adequate respose if there are umerous victims. The FCO has made major improvemets to provide the required additioal emergecy respose, particularly sice 2002, icludig: Settig up Rapid Deploymet Teams, who are available to travel from the Uited Kigdom to a coutry at short otice to assist a Post i dealig with a emergecy. The FCO has three teams, each of 12 people, with oe team o call at all times. Each team icludes a press officer ad a techical maagemet officer as well as traied cosular staff. The teams were called out te times betwee May 2003 ad September 2005 to icidets such as the Istabul terror attack ad the coach crash i Jorda. The scale of the deploymet varied accordig to the specific eeds of the evet, the scale of the crisis, ad the ability of the Post to maage the situatio from withi its ow resources; A emergecy respose cetre, providig immediate call hadlig for Uited Kigdom telephoe equiries i the evet of a emergecy. As back-up for larger scale icidets, the FCO has a agreemet with the Metropolita Police that all calls will be rerouted to police call cetres. The FCO ow has established set procedures for equiries, icludig the use of a stadardised police template to record details from worried relatives; ad Support from the crisis maagemet team i Cosular Directorate, i co-ordiatig each emergecy respose ad providig advice. The team is also resposible for allocatig emergecy equipmet to Posts. These improvemets mea that the FCO ow has a reputatio amogst other coutries foreig miistries as world leaders i cosular crisis maagemet. It has started to speak at iteratioal cofereces, ad i April 2005, it held its first iteratioal traiig exercises i crisis maagemet for Europea Uio member ad cadidate states. The FCO plas to develop its emergecy respose further through the improvemets metioed at Figure 28. The FCO is workig towards greater co operatio with others 4.5 Oe of the key factors which the Tsuami experiece re-emphasised is the importace of a coheret govermet-wide respose to emergecies overseas. The FCO takes lead resposibility i smaller scale crises, but there has i the past bee a lack of a well defied trigger poit for declarig a major crisis. Such a trigger poit is essetial i establishig lead resposibility for co ordiatig a overall respose ad must be uderpied by clear criteria to establish, for differet situatios, the roles ad resposibilities of each govermet departmet, together with spedig authorities, to esure that fuds ca be released quickly for emergecy resposes. The Cabiet Office is curretly reviewig the mechaisms for co-ordiatig govermet hadlig of major evets i the Uited Kigdom ad there eeds to be cosistecy betwee the govermet s respose to emergecies occurrig, whether i the Uited Kigdom or abroad. 46 Cosular Services to British Natioals

53 part four 28 Lessos have bee leared from the Idia Ocea Tsuami O 26 December 2004 a earthquake measurig 9.3 o the Richter scale triggered a tsuami (a large sea wave) that struck the coasts of 13 coutries, causig great devastatio ad loss of life. Some 300,000 people died, pricipally i Idoesia, Idia, Sri Laka ad Thailad. A estimated 141 Britos are ow kow or believed to have died; thousads more were evacuated from the area. The FCO had already improved its crisis maagemet capability followig recet crises. But further lessos have bee leared from the respose to the tsuami; far ad away the largest cosular challege that the FCO has faced i livig memory. The full report is available o the NAO website at Lesso leared Emergecy respose Need for improved call hadlig. Stregtheig of FCO rapid deploymet capability, i umbers ad skills. Co-operatio with others Major crises require a quick cross-govermet respose, icludig a clear trigger poit for declarig a emergecy. Experiece Police call hadlig lies were ot able to cope with the volume of calls. They received up to 11,000 calls per hour at the height of the crisis. Some operators were ot sufficietly traied which resulted i poor iformatio collected. A Rapid Deploymet Team from Lodo arrived i Sri Laka very quickly, but the scale of this crisis required still greater resources over a sustaied period. It would have bee helpful if aother Rapid Deploymet Team had bee available to assist i Thailad. Deployig staff to the worst affected areas is difficult with limited iformatio available. Early deploymet decisios meat that staff i Thailad were particularly stretched i tryig to reach the worst affected areas such as Khao Lak. The Cabiet Office was resposible for co-ordiatig the liaiso betwee the FCO ad other govermet departmets, where a joiedup respose was ecessary. Commetary ad respose The FCO eeds to icrease the capacity ad quality of resposes to telephoe equiries through developmet of a appropriate Service Level Agreemet with the Police. It has made use of ew improved Police software systems to improve their capacity to respod to calls, which gives the FCO ability to access up to 650 Police call hadlers across the coutry. This system was successfully used after the bomb attacks i Egypt i July The FCO could also cosider agreemets with other providers to provide further reserve capacity. Work o this area was already uderway prior to the tsuami. The FCO is examiig the scope for establishig regioal Rapid Deploymet Teams ad for more teams i Lodo, ad arragemets are uderway for a trial regioal team i Hog Kog, to esure that expert help ca arrive more quickly i distat areas. Iitial costs are 35,000 with estimated aual costs of 42,000 for traiig ad o call allowaces. Also better commuicatios equipmet for teams is required. The FCO will use more specialists i Rapid Deploymet Teams icludig medics, police officers, ad o-govermetal orgaisatio voluteers. For example, i its respose to the Egypt bombigs it used Iteratioal SOS ad the British Red Cross. The Dutch deploy traied psychologists i their emergecy respose, ad the Australias have Victim Idetificatio specialists. The Service Level Agreemet with the Police service will firm up arragemets for victim idetificatio specialists to deploy i each emergecy respose. The FCO eeds better guidace o the roles ad resposibilities of Rapid Deploymet Teams, ad plaig for how these are to itegrate with i-coutry cosular teams. This is to couter previous problems experieced i establishig good workig arragemets betwee Post staff ad Rapid Deploymet Teams. The Cabiet Office is curretly reviewig the mechaisms i place for coordiatig govermet hadlig of major civil emergecies i the Uited Kigdom. It should esure that emergecies abroad ivolvig large umbers of British atioals are hadled as far as possible through the same mechaisms. Natural ad other oterrorist disasters overseas would beefit from a cosistet approach with that for terrorist icidets. Service Level Agreemets with key govermet parters such as the Police, to esure access to appropriate capacity. At the time of the crisis, the FCO ad the Police were i the process of settig up a Service Level Agreemet o call hadlig. I respodig i coutry, some mior differeces arose due to a lack of framework to defie the relatioship. The crisis highlighted that clear roles are essetial to maximise efficiecy cross-govermet. The crisis highlighted the eed for clearer guidelies for the FCO/Police co-operatio, icludig arragemets for the quick appoitmet of experieced Family Liaiso Officers. A Service level Agreemet is curretly beig drafted. Other issues icluded the eed for improved casualty reportig, icludig exploratio of web-based registratio for missig persos. With more clearly defied roles, other departmets such as Defece might have bee able to play a larger role i assistig the overseas effort. Govermet departmets have recogised the eed for aftercare for tsuami victims ad their families, ad the Departmet for Culture, Media ad Sport took this o i May Cosular Services to British Natioals 47

54 part four 28 Lessos have bee leared from the Idia Ocea Tsuami (cotiued) Lesso leared Co-operatio with others (cotiued) Experiece Commetary ad respose There should also be clear fudig agreemets i place betwee departmets. Posttsuami, the curret positio is that the FCO s Emergecy ad Disaster Reserve has bee exhausted ad Treasury will eed to cosider how it fuds emergecy work. Importace of workig with a wider rage of orgaisatios (British Red Cross, tour operators). Voluteers ca be vital to achievig a effective early respose. There have bee some good examples of Uited Kigdom staff achievig results through good iteratioal co-operatio. The British Red Cross played a importat support role i the crisis, icludig assistig people o retur to the Uited Kigdom, ad i sedig doctors ad other workers to the scee. Voluteers maed phoe lies, visited atioals i hospitals ad assisted travellers at airports. Despite the scale of the crisis, cosular co-ordiatio betwee Europea Uio member states was effective. It icluded daily coferece calls betwee Europea Uio missios, ad shared chartered aircraft. The FCO should ivolve the British Red Cross (ad, possibly, other volutary orgaisatios) i its future crisis plaig, ad respose ad aftercare. This has ow icluded the use of British Red Cross specialists i the makeup of Rapid Deploymet Teams. FCO staff i Thailad ad i Sri Laka told us that without the efforts of the voluteers the British respose would have bee seriously compromised. There were, however, o etworks i place for matchig the skills of voluteers with the tasks available. Maagig the voluteers was therefore a sigificat challege for the FCO. The FCO are plaig to hold regular Europea Uio-wide meetigs to share cotigecy plaig ad best practice, icludig live exercises. The first of these took place i Lodo i April Other Clear criteria for providig support to victims ad families, (e.g. govermet flights) to esure clarity from the outset. The assistace package give to tsuami victims ad their families was ot aouced util 29th December. The assistace package to British tsuami assistace is similar to that already available to all victims of terrorist icidets. But there were o predefied criteria for such support i o-terrorist icidets ad it would improve the speed ad clarity of the govermet s service to establish such criteria i advace of emergecies. Better quality/more readily useable Emergecy plas. Posts reported makig little use of their emergecy plas durig the crisis. Attetio is focusig o improvemets to emergecy plas at Posts to esure better co-operatio with Rapid Deploymet Teams, Europea Uio parters ad local voluteers, ad arragemets for rotatio of staff. Source: Natioal Audit Office ad Foreig ad Commowealth Office 48 Cosular Services to British Natioals

55 part four 4.6 Co-operatio with the host coutry govermet is also crucial to providig a efficiet emergecy respose. There are several examples of emergecy resposes where British officials have bee able to support the host coutry govermet through provisio of medical or victim idetificatio experts. But the FCO s itervetio ca also be subject to costraits imposed by host coutry govermets. I additio to cetral govermet departmets ad the host coutry govermet, may other public agecies ad volutary orgaisatios play a role i respodig to crisis situatios abroad. For example, social services ad health authorities may have to receive victims as they retur to the Uited Kigdom, ad the British Red Cross provide specialist cousellig. The Police provide a rage of support, icludig supplyig family liaiso officers where appropriate, ad assistig with victim idetificatio overseas. Recogisig these liks, the FCO is developig a set of more clearly defied frameworks with key parters to provide a reliable ed-to-ed service to affected British atioals ad esure that the skills of other agecies are fully exploited. The FCO s defiitio of the package of support it provides i mass icidets has evolved 4.7 After the Bali bombigs i 2002, the FCO for the first time provided direct fiacial ad logistical assistace to families of victims which was similar to that provided to families by the America Red Cross after the New York terrorist attack of I September 2003, Miisters aouced a assistace pla for ay further victims of terrorist attacks. Figure 29 provides the details of the pla, which offers a more geerous level of support tha the stadard cosular service provided to idividual British atioals. I practice the distictio betwee the assistace provided for terrorist icidets ad for atural disasters was foud to be uteable i the aftermath of the Idia Ocea tsuami ad, o 29 December 2004, the govermet aouced a similar assistace package to assist tsuami victims ad their families. The three day gap i establishig the assistace package led to ucertaity over what assistace cosular staff could provide ad the level of expeses which could be icurred i, for example, charterig plaes to evacuate British atioals. This ucertaity led to criticism i the media ad drew adverse comparisos with some other foreig govermets. The FCO wishes to retai the ability to review which support mechaisms are appropriate after each ad every mass icidet, rather tha automatically applyig a stadard package of assistace. 29 Curret cotets of the assistace pla for victims of acts of terrorism ad their families The assistace package provided to victims of terrorism ad their families was available to those whose expeses were ot covered by travel isurace. For victims: immediate medical expeses for those ijured; icludig if ecessary evacuatio to the Uited Kigdom; retur luggage costs of those killed or ijured; ad a 600 cotributio to the cost of cousellig for victims i the Uited Kigdom, if this is ot immediately available through the Natioal Health Service. For the families of victims: repatriatio of bodies or mortal remais; busiess class travel to the site of the icidet for two family members, icludig local travel ad travel isurace; up to five ights four-star accommodatio at the site of the icidet; issuig death certificates; ad assistace with memorials. Source: FCO assistace pla The FCO ca do more to icrease its preparedess for crises, ad it is icreasig its focus o this area 4.8 A major resposibility of the cosular crisis maagemet team is to prepare FCO staff, at home ad overseas, to respod to crises aroud the world. I additio to co-ordiatig the direct emergecy respose provided from Cosular Directorate (paragraph 4.4), the team promotes good practice ad aims to equip staff overseas with sufficiet traiig ad comprehesive ad practical emergecy plas. 4.9 I , the crisis maagemet team spoke at 35 traiig courses ad semiars which icluded ot just cosular officers but other diplomats at Posts, icludig Hoorary Cosuls ad Heads of Missios who will ormally lead crisis resposes. Cosular Directorate expect these seior staff to be accoutable for the crisis maagemet capability of their Posts ad for them to ecourage all their o-cosular staff to obtai basic traiig, to eable them to support cosular staff i crisis situatios. Cosular Services to British Natioals 49

56 part four 4.10 All Posts have bee required to prepare emergecy plas for may years, but i 2004 Posts were asked to overhaul these, based o ew guidace provided by the FCO crisis team. 98 per cet of Posts who respoded to our survey have a emergecy pla although the plas we reviewed revealed differeces i the detail, cotet ad level of staff ivolvemet i preparig the pla. Two commo weakesses were a lack of detailed plaig of idividual roles ad resposibilities, particularly for o cosular staff, ad failure to cosider what assistace may be available from other earby Posts. Emergecy plaig is beig give greater priority ad a third of the Posts who respoded to our survey said that they had revised their emergecy plas withi the past three moths. But Posts which had recetly used their emergecy plas reported that some were uwieldy ad difficult to use The Crisis Maagemet team has a advisory role i reviewig Post emergecy plas ad makig recommedatios for improvemet, but progress to date has bee limited. Oly 30 per cet (66 out of 223) of Posts submitted their plas by the origial deadlie of July 2004, a figure which rose to 62 per cet (138 Posts) by the revised deadlie of April By April 2005, the crisis maagemet team had give feedback to oly 41 of the Posts which had submitted plas, with some Posts waitig eight moths for a reply. The delays reflect the resources committed by the team to recet high profile crises, pricipally the tsuami, ad to overstretch withi the crisis maagemet team. Resource icreases led to replies beig give to a total of 114 Posts by September The FCO did ot have a robust system for prioritisig the review process to focus limited resources o higher risk Posts, with feedback havig first bee give to those who have plaed to test their plas or where particular cocers were raised. For example, of the 41 resposes give by April, oly 15 Posts were categorised by the FCO as beig at high risk of civil urest, ad potetially high risk Posts such as Islamabad ad Lagos had ot yet had received resposes. Other cosideratios such as the umber of travellers ad expatriates are also importat i prioritisig. The Crisis Maagemet team has recetly bee workig to develop a elemetary system of prioritisatio Posts are also ecouraged to test their emergecy plas at least oce a year usig both table-top exercises (staff are give a sceario ad discuss the most appropriate roles ad resposibilities of each perso) ad live exercises (usig simulated icidet scees). The FCO does ot systematically record iformatio about which Posts have to-date tested their plas, but our survey idicated that so far oly oe third of the Posts we cosulted had tested their plas, although most others iteded to do so. Several Posts stated that they were waitig for feedback from the Crisis Maagemet team o their draft pla before expedig resources o testig it. The tests which have bee carried out have proved valuable with, for example, Stockholm makig major chages to its pla i the light of its test. Commo problems revealed by tests iclude faulty commuicatios, abseces of key staff ad difficulty i gaiig access to affected areas. Resource costraits mea that the Crisis Maagemet team ivolvemet i the tests to date has bee limited to geeral guidace, several regioal workshops ad participatio i a small umber of idividual Post evets. The Crisis Maagemet team iteds to recruit someoe to focus o testig, ad Posts commeted to us that greater ivolvemet would be welcome i devisig test scearios ad observig ad feedig back lessos leared, both to the specific Post ad more widely. The curret trial of creatig regioal crisis specialists through regioal Rapid Deploymet Teams, if adopted more widely, may assist with emergecy plaig ad traiig exercises. 50 Cosular Services to British Natioals

57 part five Part five The FCO eeds better tools to help it maage such a dispersed ad complex busiess 52 Cosular Services to British Natioals

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