Exploitation of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims by rogue tour operators is addressed both by consumer protection law (notably the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992) and the laws on fraud and deceptive practices. The relevant enforcement agencies are already taking steps to improve their ability to tackle such exploitation.
National Trading Standards has made enforcement in this area one of its national priorities and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, operated by the City of London Police, is running a Hajj Fraud National Awareness campaign designed to inform consumers and to encourage reporting of crime in this sector. Birmingham’s Trading Standards Department which has taken the lead role in tackling non-compliance, on behalf of National Trading Standards, has seen significant success in its area in both prosecuting rogues and encouraging and ensuring compliance in the legitimate trade. They are working hard to ensure that their enforcement colleagues in other parts of the country benefit from their experience and are better informed of the problems in the sector.
Key to that success has been engagement with the Muslim community so that those who are planning a trip are aware of their rights and the legal responsibilities of organisers, and those that suffer at the hands of the rogues are willing to report their experiences to the relevant authorities.