Bermuda officers train with Essex Police
Two Bermuda traffic police officers have undergone intensive training in the use of handheld breathalysers with a British force.
Acting Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, head of the roads policing unit, and Acting Chief Inspector Dorian Astwood spent a week on the beat with Essex Police in the South East of England.
Mr Cardwell said: “The purpose of this attachment was so that we could observe first hand how they initiate their roadside sobriety checks and how they use their roadside breath-testing devices. It quickly became apparent to us that the legislation in the UK is less restrictive than our newly created legislation.”
He added: “On a sliding scale of 1 to 10, this means that in the UK they are on 1 or 2 whereas we are at 10.”
The Bermuda law means that once an officer has pulled over a vehicle, he will need “reasonable or probable grounds” to use a handheld breathalyser, but in Britain a police officer only needs to suspect an offence has been committed.
Legislation to allow breath-test checkpoints to be set up in Bermuda was approved earlier this year and the first are expected to be operational in the next few days.
Mr Cardwell also highlighted that British police can also carry out roadside drug tests — unlike Bermuda. Mr Cardwell said he and Mr Astwood attended a checkpoint and watched the arrests of two impaired drivers inside 20 minutes. Both drivers passed a breathalyser test but failed a roadside drug test.
Mr Cardwell said: “The roadside drug test is a very simple device. A swab of the tongue is done with the device and within eight minutes it returns a positive or negative indicator for cannabis or cocaine.
“Both of the arrestees were taken into custody where a demand for blood was made and both agreed to supply.
“It is the blood analysis that is the evidence of the impairment by drug rather than the positive indicator on the roadside device.
“Similarly in Bermuda, whilst we are carrying out roadside breath-testing initiatives, if we stop someone and we suspect that they are impaired by something other than alcohol we will make a demand for blood for drug testing. This legislation has been in place for some time.
“We will just not have the benefit by law of being able to do a roadside drug test.”
Mr Cardwell and Mr Astwood also visited the Essex Police Serious Collision Unit and the Forensic Collision Unit to see to see how the services conduct fatal collision investigations. The two saw techniques that could improve fatal crash investigations in Bermuda and discovered at least one new forensic technique to judge the speed of vehicles.
Mr Cardwell said: “We were taken through a process of working out the speed of a vehicle that is caught on CCTV.
“This is not simple — to get a speed there is quite an elaborate testing and retesting process.”
A trip on the Essex Police helicopter allowed Mr Cardwell and Mr Astwood to have a bird’s-eye view of the interception of a firearms suspect on a motorway with use of a technique that involved the use of three police cars to bring the target car to a halt.
The Bermuda officers also identified several training opportunities for Bermudian police.