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Police deployed to Dockyard to diffuse tensions with cruise ship workers

A team of police officers has been deployed to Dockyard to try to reduce simmering tensions between cruise ship workers and residents. A handful of officers have been taken off their normal duties to patrol the West End tourist hot spot for the rest of the cruise ship season.

It is understood to be the first time the Bermuda Police Service has stationed police officers in Dockyard on a full-time basis. The officers can be seen walking around the area during weekdays and on Thursday evenings for the Royal Naval Dockyard Heritage Nights.

The idea is that the presence of the ‘tourism police’ will “calm things down” as thousands of cruise ship passengers regularly descend on Dockyard.

The new policing initiative comes after a fight broke out between two cruise ship workers and a local group at Snorkel Park Beach in the early hours of June 7. The clash left the two ship staff injured, with one taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for treatment. A security guard was also assaulted while breaking up the fight.

The new dedicated police team has already earned the support of business bosses who hope their presence will act as a deterrent.

They like the idea of having officers in the area, rather than having to wait for officers to arrive from Somerset Police Station.

Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief said: “Officers have now taken on the responsibility of Dockyard, it’s high visibility policing.

“They are the ‘tourism police’ as they are the dedicated officers for the cruise ship passengers.

“The Police Commissioner has decided to do this to make the area safer for us all. Policing has been stepped up in the hope that the officers being there will act as a deterrent.

“The crews from the ship have been getting into a bit of bother with people from Somerset so we want to try to calm things down”.

Mr Perinchief added that the police would also be working closely with the customs border control team who carry out cabin searches of cruise ships docked at Heritage Wharf and Kings Wharf.

Customs and police work together to stop drugs, firearms and weapons being smuggled into Bermuda.

In the last week several passengers arriving in Dockyard have been caught with “small amounts of cannabis for personal use”.

Mr Perinchief said: “We are making sure there is a closer security of what cruise ship passengers are bringing into Bermuda. We really are cracking down”.

The Dockyard police officers have visited most businesses to introduce themselves and hand out their cell numbers. They are working in addition to the private security company that continues to patrol Dockyard.

Carol West, the owner of the Frog and Onion pub, said: “Having a police presence is making a tremendous difference. They are doing a great job and we are very supportive of their work.

“We’re not a late-night establishment that has trouble, but just seeing the officers walking around is a big help. At times there are a huge amount of people up here so it’s great to have the police here with us”.

Ms West added that the officers were also a big hit with the cruise ship passengers who loved seeing and having their photos taken with “bobbies on the beat”.

William Wolffe, bar manager at Snorkel Park Beach, said the police were “very much needed” with hundreds of locals and tourists attending the venue’s party nights, which continue until the early hours of the morning.

He said: “I’m very supportive of having the police nearby, it’s really needed. The mega ships coming up here have changed everything. Things get really busy now.

“You never used to really see police walking about, but there’s been a few problems so this will really help”.

A sales assistant at the Bermuda Arts Centre, who did not want to be named, said it was reassuring to know police officers were close-by, especially when they were open late on Thursday evenings.

She said: “It’s definitely a good idea. It’s rather nice knowing they are here and can be easily reached.

“It probably acts as more of a preventive measure but there can be some trouble when tourists have had a drink or two.

“We now know the police are always around if we need them rather than calling for officers from Somerset, which may take a while”.

Bermuda Police Service did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Enchantment of the Seas pulls alongside the cruise ship terminal in Dockyard

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Published August 08, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 08, 2011 at 9:18 am)

Police deployed to Dockyard to diffuse tensions with cruise ship workers

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