Wednesday, 24 April 2013

British Consular service Changes Direction

Dear LOCATE registrant,
Consular Excellence: Important changes to consular registration
Millions of British people travel abroad every year. Most have a journey free from trouble and do not need consular services. However sometimes things go wrong and British nationals can be victims of serious crime, require hospitalisation or be caught up in a major crisis. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to doing its utmost to assist British nationals in serious difficulties abroad. The FCO has staff in 146 cities around the world ready and able to provide assistance when necessary, often in tragic circumstances.
On 18 April 2013 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has launched a new consular strategy for 2013 to 2016 titled “Consular Excellence”. This strategy will drive innovation and excellence in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s consular service over the next three years.
As part of this strategy the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also responding to what British nationals have said about how they want to stay informed about crisis and security situations when overseas. The FCO is updating its systems to offer a wide array of ways to stay in touch on these issues, including via email updates of the FCO’s country-specific travel advice or by following FCO on social media.
So every British National going abroad will have access to up-to-date country-specific travel advice at any time. We encourage you to subscribe to this free service so you will be alerted by email when there are important updates. This is a fast and effective method already used by nearly 34000 email subscribers. During a crisis our advice to British nationals will be published on our travel advice website and updated regularly. It is particularly important to consult travel advice if you are considering travel to: Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen. You can also follow us on social media so that wherever you go, you can stay informed and stay safe. We encourage you to follow us on Twitter @fcotravel and on Facebook: Your local British Embassy or High Commission also has a website and may additionally have its own social media feeds and/or consular warden network. Contact details for all of our diplomatic posts are available on our website. We have also produced some new guidance on precautions to take if you are travelling to or resident in areas where a crisis may occur.
In effect, the FCO is moving from a system where British nationals are encouraged to register when they travel in case there is a crisis, to one where we are using a number of channels to give the latest information and advice on what you should do if you need our help in a crisis and how to contact the FCO’s crisis response team. This faster and more practical system supersedes the Locate system, which is used by less than 1% of British nationals overseas so does not offer what we need to help British nationals in a crisis. From 14 May we will no longer use the LOCATE system, instead using our resources to improve our travel advice service and focus on those who most need our help.
Your personal data which is stored on LOCATE will be handled in line with data protection legislation. If you have any questions about these changes you can contact us by emailing until 14 May.
The new Consular Strategy is available on GOV.UK at: in accordance with Government Digital by Default principles. It will be a dynamic document that will be updated as we achieve our aims and set future targets.
Crisis Management Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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