Today the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) launched a campaign to highlight the serious consequences for British nationals of drug taking, possession and trafficking whilst overseas. As supporters of the Know Before You Go Campaign (#KBYG) we, at Oyster, are keen to promote this campaign to all of our participants.

The penalties handed down to Brits abroad for drug related crimes can be much more severe than in this country. Did you know, for example, that in some countries, carrying even a small amount of marijuana can lead to decades in jail?!

There are currently over 850 Brits locked up in prisons across the globe for drug related crimes, often detained for months without trial and facing distressing living conditions.

Pauline Crowe, chief executive of Prisoners Abroad, said:
“In many countries, men and women find themselves without access to food, clean water and the most basic of medical care. We urge people to consider the unsanitary conditions, overcrowded cells and the constant threat of disease before they get involved in drugs. They may have to live through these conditions for many, many years.”

Now I’m sure you are reading this thinking ‘I don’t take drugs so this doesn’t apply to me’, well it does. Every year, young Brits are befriended by people in countries across the globe whose one and only aim is to get you to smuggle drugs out of their country. Some people will see this as a good way to earn some cash but most will not even be aware that they are being targeted. Therefore, it is so important that you take care of your bags and belongings and don’t let them out of your sight, particularly at airports, bus/train stations and ferry ports.

In a video produced by the FCO, Billy Burton tells how his life has been impacted since he attempted to smuggle drugs more than 20 years ago. He was going to be paid £10,000 for smuggling the drugs, as he states, that would have worked out to £500 for every year he spent in prison… I’m sure that you’ll agree, getting involved in drugs overseas could really ruin your gap year!

The world is a fantastic place to explore, have a great time but respect the laws, culture and people of the countries you visit.

For more information about this, read the Press Release from the FCO. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest FCO advice on travel by signing up to the FCO’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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