In 2012, a total of 12 serious offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Diplomatic Protection Group of the Metropolitan Police. Ten of these were driving-related. This is one serious offence less than 2011. We define serious offences as those which could, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months imprisonment or more. Also included are drink-driving and driving without insurance.
Some 22,500 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom and the majority of diplomats abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community is proportionately low.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.
We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When instances of alleged criminal conduct are brought to our attention by the police, we ask the relevant foreign Government to waive diplomatic immunity where appropriate. For the most serious offences, we seek the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.
Alleged offences reported to the FCO in 2012 are listed below.
Driving without insurance
Driving under the influence of drink
Abuse of a domestic worker
Actual bodily harm
Figures for previous years are available in my written statement to the House on 5 July 2012, Official Report, column 67WS.