Hampshire Police officers have been sworn in as Special Constables for the Bermuda Police Service to enable them to investigate serious crimes on board Bermudan-registered ships in Hampshire ports.

For the first tim in the UK 16 staff from the Hampshire Major Investigation Team – 14 detectives and two police staff investigators – were sworn in to the office of Special Constable by the Commissioner of Bermuda Police Michael DeSilva.

Senior representatives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and cruise operator Carnival, whose ships are registered in Bermude, attended the ceremony held at Police Support & Training Headquarters at Netley.

Hampshire officers regularly need to investigate crimes committed on board cruise ships coming into to Southampton.

Many of these vessels are registered in Bermuda, however, in most instances the UK police have no police powers or jurisdiction.

This new arrengement means that, as Bermudian specials, Hampshire detectives have the power of arrest on board ship.

Sergeant Paul Campbell said: “Given the short period of time that ships are in port, geography dictates that it is difficult for Bermudian police to get here in time, which can cause delays critical to the investigation. “Whilst such investigations are not overly frequent, it is really important that we have these powers in place in order to perform a proper investigation, and, most importantly, provide an excellent service in supporting victims of crime.

“It is a massive step forward in driving international collaboration between police forces and supports the Governments commitment to the UK's overseas territories.”

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “This is part of ongoing work nationally in respect of improving systems of dealing with serious crime on board ships, led by Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde, who is lead UK police lead for maritime.

“We have already supported the development and creation of guidance by the International Maritime Organisation with regards to safeguarding of evidence, and victim and pastoral care post-incident.

“We have also created policies for the safeguarding of children on UK ships and advised the UK government on response options for incidents of piracy and we continue to work with the Home Office in developing better powers for the police to investigate serious crime on ships. “I am extremely proud to see Hampshire Constabulary leading the way. I have absolute confidence that if you have to call upon any of the 16 men and women being sworn in today, victims of crime will receive an excellent professional service.”

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes added: “I am delighted to support this initiative that puts Hampshire Constabulary at the forefront of innovative policing. “The high standards of professionalism and integrity of policing in the UK is world renowned. The faith of the Bermudan authorities working with Hampshire Constabulary in this way bears testament to that, and I feel certain that this pioneering collaborative work will want to be shared with other overseas territories in the future.”

Michael DeSilva, commissioner of Bermuda Police Service, said: “For us this is about partnering up with a UK force, which allows us to provide a more appropriate and faster response to ships that are registered in Bermuda. “Through this partnership with Hampshire Constabulary, we can overcome the logistical delays caused by flying in from Bermuda – there are only five flights a week to the UK and so it can often take up to two days to get there.”