Overseas Britons urged not to make ‘bizarre requests’

London, April 8 (IANS) The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has urged overseas Britons to use consular services for genuine emergencies rather than “bizarre requests”.

Confused Britons looked to the FCO for advice on bizarre issues ranging from where to buy English bacon in Europe, how to recruit a butler in Lebanon and how to avoid nudists in southern Spain, according to the FCO.

In a statement, the ministry released the top 10 “weirdest consular calls” it had received in the past year, calling on the public to use its services for genuine emergencies, Xinhua news agency reported.

The “weirdest” requests also include a British man asking for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore, a confused businessman looking for information on the construction of plug sockets, and another man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes.

“Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world – but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries,” said James Duddridge, a FCO minister.

“Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone,” he added.

According to the 2015 UK Travel Habit Tracking Research Report, almost three quarters of Britons (74 percent) thought the FCO could get them out of jail if they were arrested.

Meanwhile, almost a quarter (22 percent) thought the FCO could arrange for them to get home if they lost their ticket and 15 percent presumed the FCO would lend them money if theirs was lost or stolen.

Latest FCO figures show that over the last year almost half a million calls were made to its consular services. The vast majority of people who approached them were having genuine requests.

Over the last year, the FCO helped 3,250 Britons who were hospitalized, 4,770 who were arrested and the families of 3,670 who died overseas. Nearly 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.

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