An ACPO (advisory) reference guide for Police Investigating Officers to legislation, procedures
(D/Ch. Supt. John Newman)
abroad is generally the responsibility of the country in which it occurs. If
it is suspicious or violent, it will usually be investigated or examined by the appropriate authorities of that country.
There are, however, various circumstances where the British Police Service may become involved either in an
investigative capacity or by assisting an English or Welsh Coroner.
Death Abroad can come to the attention of the Police Service in a number of ways, some examples are:
On direction of the Coroner;
On return of a body/bodies to this country;
Dissatisfaction of a family in the investigation
by the appropriate country;
Where there has been no investigation;
After Civil war leading to United Nations
Informing next of kin at request of Foreign
& Commonwealth Office (FCO);
At the request of the Host Country;
Media attention, required following identification
by the FCO.
The major decision facing the Service in these cases is whether we should or could become involved.
Procedures and protocol that surround these cases can be complex and difficult to navigate. There are, however,
a number of guidance documents and key pieces of legislation that can assist in making a decision as to our involvement.
The aim of this document, ‘Death Abroad’, is to facilitate
an understanding of some of the issues that can face investigating officers and to provide details of useful points of reference
for further case specific research.
The Government announced a few weeks ago a major review of the inquest system in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. No doubt “deaths abroad” is one of the areas that will be re-examined.
What Is Your Role?
One of the most important matters to clarify at an early stage is whether we are;
assisting in an enquiry into a death abroad (ie. at the request of a Coroner); or
conducting criminal enquiries.
The importance of this decision is that it decides whether we should approach
The Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; or
The United Kingdom Central Authority (UKCA)
which is part of the Judicial Co-operation Department of the Home Office.
There are clear guidelines regarding the two agencies. In most
cases of death abroad, the criminal law of this country would have no jurisdiction.
A Coroner, however, who has a body in his/her jurisdiction does have a requirement (where the normal criteria apply)
to open an inquest into the cause of death, albeit that death occurred in a foreign country.
The gateway for a Coroner to make these enquiries is through the Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office. It should be stressed that no matter what the circumstances, these are
not criminal enquiries but simply an enquiry into the cause of death. There is
ordinarily no reason to involve police in this process.
The United Kingdom Civil
Authority (UKCA) is the gateway to conducting criminal enquiries in other countries, ie. where we would seek to put something
into evidence for a criminal court.
There are a number of key questions that an SIO should ask before embarking on a course of action:-
Are we assisting a Coroner?
- is there a body in an English or Welsh Coroner’s district?
Is it a criminal investigation?
- is the alleged offender a United Kingdom
- is the victim a United Kingdom
Do we have jurisdiction?
How will we obtain any evidence from abroad?
These questions will help an SIO to decide the most suitable way to progress the matter and are explored in
the chapters that follow.
Are We Assisting The Coroner?
Duty to Investigate Deaths Abroad
Coroners are independent judicial officers and each assigned to a particular territorial area. Under the laws of England and Wales, they are responsible for investigating the circumstances which gave rise
to the deaths of those persons whose bodies lie or are brought into their district.
Section 8 of the Coroners Act, 1988 provides that, `where a Coroner
is informed that the body of a person (`the deceased’) is lying within his district and there is reasonable cause to
suspect that the deceased (a) has died a violent or an unnatural death – then whether the cause of death arose within
his district or not, the Coroner shall as soon as practicable hold an inquest into the death of the deceased.’
The wording of the law was interpreted by the Court of Appeal in England
as requiring a Coroner’s inquest when a body is brought into the district, even when the death has occurred overseas.
all respect to the learned Judges of the Divisional Court, I do not accept their premise that there is no warrant in any of
the legislation or at common law to support the proposition that an inquest can be held where both the cause of death and
the death itself occurred outside the jurisdiction of the English courts. The
presence of a dead human body in this country is a matter of significance. It
creates a very real and legitimate interest in holding an inquiry. In the absence
of a death certificate by an appropriate authority in this country, it may very well be considered essential at the very least
to ascertain where the body came from, whether the deceased died in this country and, if so, how. This case is concerned with the finding of a body in this country.
Mr. Smith (the appellant) has told us where it came from and, of course, I do not doubt his assertion. But neither the Divisional Court
(part of the High Court) nor (the) Court (of Appeal) is the appropriate authority to accept or test this assertion. That is the function of the Coroner.’
(From R v West Yorkshire
Coroner, ex parte Smith)
The decision was based upon the interpretation of the words as they were written in the statute of 1887 and
not upon the meaning they were understood to have had for 700 years. There is
no provision for the Coroner to hold any form of inquiry overseas or to summon witnesses from another country.
is no provision for the Coroner to hold any form of inquiry into a death of a person who has died overseas and whose body
is not brought into England or Wales.
English High Court has described the purpose of the Coroner’s inquest in these terms:-
1. An inquest is a fact finding inquiry, conducted
by a Coroner with or without a Jury, to establish reliable answers to four important but limited factual questions. The first of these relates to the identity of the deceased, the second to the place of his death, the third
to the time of death. In most cases these questions are not hard to answer but
in a minority of cases the answer may be problematical. The fourth question and
that to which evidence and inquiry are most often and most closely directed, related to how the deceased came by his death. (The rules of procedure) require(s) that the proceedings and evidence shall be directed
solely to ascertaining these matters and forbids any expression of opinion on any other matter.
2. Both in the
1988 (Coroner’s) Act and in the 1984 (Coroner’s) Rules `how’ is to be understood as meaning `by what means’. It is noteworthy that the task is not to ascertain how the deceased died, which might
raise general and far reaching issues, but `how … the deceased came by his death’, a more limited question directed
to the means by which the deceased came by his death.
3. It is not
the function of a Coroner or his Jury to determine or appear to determine any question of criminal or civil liability, to
apportion guilt or attribute blame. This principle is expressed in the 1984 Rules. The Rule does, however, treat criminal and civil liability differently whereas a verdict
must not be framed so as to appear to determine any question of criminal liability on the part of a named person, thereby
legitimating a verdict of unlawful killing provided no one is named, the prohibition on returning a verdict so as to appear
to determine any question of civil liability is unqualified, applying whether anyone is named or not.
4. This prohibition
in the Rules is fortified by consideration of fairness. Our law accords a defendant
accused of crime or a party alleged to have committed a civil wrong certain safeguards rightly regarded as essential to the
fairness of the proceedings, among them a clear statement in writing of the alleged wrongdoing, a right to call any relevant
and admissible evidence and a right to address factual submissions to the tribunal of fact.
These rights are not granted, and the last is expressly denied by the Rules, to a party whose conduct may be impugned
by evidence given at an inquest.
(From R v Coroner for Humberside ex parte Jamieson (Court of Appeal – judgement delibered 25 April 1994)
(Court of Appeal judgement delivered 25 April 1994) Judgement of Bingham, MR).
In Northern Ireland the position is different to that in
England and Wales (and
also the Republic of Ireland). A Coroner in Northern Ireland does
not have jurisdiction to hold an inquest where someone dies abroad and the body is returned to Northern Ireland. The view is taken
that the most a Coroner can do in such circumstances, is to order a post-mortem examination and notify the relevant agencies
(e.g. The Royal Ulster Constabulary) of
the results of that. The legal position can best be described as “a grey
area” and is in urgent need of clarification.
A book titled Coroners’ Law and Practice in Northern
Ireland by John L Leckey, LL.M. Her Majesty’s
Coroner for Greater Belfast and Desmond Greer, Q.C. (Hon.), LL.D., B.C.L. Professor
of Common Law in The Queen’s University of Belfast, published in 1998, contains a section which gives further guidance
in relation to the position in Northern Ireland (pages 79-83).
Home Office Circular
This Home Office Circular deals with deaths occurring outside of England
It confirms the position that `where a Coroner is informed that a body is lying within his area, he must hold an inquest
if the death is one which requires an inquest to be held under Section 3 of the Coroner’s Act 1887, even though that
death occurred abroad.’
If an inquest has been held in Northern Ireland or, in Scotland, there has been a public enquiry under the
Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976, the Home Office has advised Coroners that it is possible to
maintain that a Coroner in England in Wales would not have jurisdiction to conduct an inquest of his own.
Although the Circular indicates that copies of Police reports on deaths occurring in foreign countries, if
required, should be requested through Interpol, this is no longer the case and all matters should be progressed through the
Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, address at Appendix `A’.
This change was addressed in Coroners Newsletter No. 25, Item 11 which is reproduced below.
The Circular also deals with deaths of Servicemen and advises that direct contact should be made with the Commanding
Officer of the Unit concerned. In cases of difficulty the Ministry of Defence
should be contacted. This advice is now out of date. In cases of difficulty the Individual Casualty Branch of the respective service – who have responsibilities
in relation to Next of Kin, Witnesses, Repatriation of Bodies and liaison with Coroners, should be contacted. Their contact details together with the address and telephone number of the Ministry of Defence are shown
at Appendix ‘A’.
Advice is also given as to which Coroner holds the inquest. This
is to give assistance in whether an inquest should be held in the area where the body arrives (ie. airport or port) or where
it is to be disposed of. Generally the Coroner for the district where disposal
is to take place, should take jurisdiction, as this will be where the relatives are likely to reside. However, in cases where a number of persons (Servicemen in particular) have died together in the same incident,
it will be more convenient to hold one inquest at the place of arrival. (This
would also be the case in major disaster when all the bodies are returned to the mainland).
Coroners: Newsletter No. 25, Item 11 - `Coroners’ Requests for Overseas Assistance’
Guidance on enquiries into deaths abroad was given in Home Office Circular No. 79/1983. That Circular advised Coroners to approach the Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
when seeking assistance from overseas countries. Further advice was issued in
Coroners’ Newsletters No. 8 & 13. An article in the latter advised
Coroners that it was also possible to make such requests through the UK Central Authority for mutual legal assistance in criminal
matters at the Home Office.
The Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have reviewed their procedures. They decided that all Coroners’ requests for information or reports from overseas countries should
now be sent direct to:
The Deputy Head of International Legal Matters Unit, Consular Division, Foreign and Commonwealth
Office. Address at Appendix A.
These new arrangements will be without prejudice to any existing informal arrangements that Coroners already
employ using established contacts.
When making enquiries via the FCO, Coroners are advised to submit such requests in simple terms, not as a formal
Commission Rogatoire (which, for many continental jurisdictions, means a request
for assistance in a criminal matter). Nor should Interpol be used as a conduit,
unless police officers are travelling abroad to assist the Coroner’s enquiry.
The request should merely state the facts of the case and details
of the assistance sought. The FCO will provide the necessary formality to any
request through the use of a Note Verbale to submit to the authorities in the appropriate
country. International Legal Matters Unit will be happy to advise on all aspects
of enquiries overseas, including those rare cases where the Coroner may wish to send a member of his/her staff, or a police
officer, to make on-the-spot enquiries.
(These new arrangements commenced on 1.1.98).
Are we assisting the Coroner? – Summary
8 Coroners Act 1988
8 of the Coroners Act 1988 provides that `Where a Coroner is informed that the body of a person (the deceased) is lying within
his district and there is reasonable cause to suspect that the deceased (a) has died a violent death or (b) an unnatural death
– then, whether the cause of death arose within his district or not, the Coroner shall as soon as is practicable hold
an inquest into the death of the deceased.’
Home Office Circular 79/1983
guidelines into deaths abroad, it advises Coroners to approach the Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
when seeking assistance from overseas countries. The current position is that
all requests for information or reports from overseas countries should be channelled through the International Legal Matters
Unit, Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Information for Coroners: Newsletter No. 25, Item 11 - `Coroners’ Requests for Overseas Assistance’
the advice given in the above-mentioned Home Office Circular and sets out the current position as referred to in the above
Is it a Criminal Investigation?
The relevant criminal
legislation is contained in Sections 9 and 10 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
Section 9 refers to murder or manslaughter committed on land outside the United
Kingdom and gives jurisdiction to deal in England
or Ireland if committed by a subject of
Her Majesty. It is irrespective of whether the victim is a subject of Her Majesty
or not. Caution should be exercised in interpreting S.9, as it has the potential
to suggest that a British Police Officer has the right to get involved in S.9 Cases.
The British Police can help but in practise would only do so when asked to do so by the foreign authority in
whose jurisdiction the crime took place.
Although legally possible, the trial in the UK
of a Briton for a murder that took place abroad is extremely unlikely – for two reasons:
1) we extradite our nationals so that even if the alleged
attacker is in the UK he can be extradited to the country where the offence took place and
2) the difficulty in obtaining evidence abroad that would be admissible in a UK court – a
murder or manslaughter trial would almost certainly require witnesses from abroad – on the grounds of simplicity if
it is presumed to be easier to have the trial in the country where the crime took place.
The possible exception is where we have refused to extradite a person but are then asked to prosecute them in the UK. An officer
may then be involved in obtaining evidence at the scene of the crime.
Section 10 refers to various acts (poisoning, hurt etc) to a person upon the sea or any place out of England or Ireland who then dies from these
acts in England or being hurt in England
or Ireland dies outside of England
or Ireland – may be dealt with in England
or Ireland. This section applies to British subjects only (Both as victims or offenders).
The two sections are more fully laid out below:-
Against the Person Act 1861, s.9
Where any murder or manslaughter shall be committed on land out of the United Kingdom,
whether within the Queen’s dominions or without, and whether the person killed were a subject of Her Majesty or not,
every offence committed by any subject of Her Majesty, in respect of any such case, whether the same shall amount to the offence
of murder or of manslaughter … may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined and punished … in England or
Ireland … Provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any person from being tried in any place out of England
or Ireland for any murder or manslaughter committed out of England or Ireland, in the same manner as such person might have
been tried before the passing of this Act.
A British subject, therefore, who, in a foreign country, within the dominion of a foreign power, murders either
a British subject or a foreigner is triable in England
under the express provisions of this section. See R. v. Azzopardi (1843) 6 St.Tr.(N.S.)
21;R. v. Sawyer (1815) R. & R. 294. In R. v. Page  1 Q.B. 170, a British
soldier killed an Egyptian national in Egypt
and was convicted of murder by a court martial.
He was held to have been rightly convicted, the Courts Martial Appeal Court holding that the law laid down
by this section can be applied by a court martial which can, subject to certain exceptions, thus try a person subject to military
law for any offence wherever committed which would be an offence against the law of England.
In R. v. Bernard (1858) 8 St.Tr.(N.S.) 887, the question was raised whether a foreigner resident in England could be
indicted as accessory (by means of acts done by him in England) to a murder committed by a foreigner on foreigners in France. Such a case is now covered by section 4 of the Act of 1861 (post, § 19-133 ARCHIBOLD).
the Person Act 1861, s.10
Where any person, being criminally stricken, poisoned, or otherwise hurt upon the
sea, or at any place out of England or Ireland, shall die of such stroke, poisoning, or hurt in England or Ireland or, being
criminally stricken, poisoned, or otherwise hurt in any place in England or Ireland, shall die of such stroke, poisoning or
hurt upon the sea, or at any place out of England or Ireland, every offence committed in respect of any such case, whether
the same shall amount to the offence of murder or of manslaughter, … may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined,
and punished … in England or Ireland.
sections 9 and 10 were amended by the Criminal Law Act 1967. “Ireland” means Northern Ireland: see
the Irish Free State (Consequential Adaptation of Enactments) Order 1923 (S.R. & O. 1923 No. 405) made under the Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions) Act 1922, s. 6.
10 apparently applies to British subjects only, not to foreigners: see R. v. Lewis (1857) Dears. & B. 82; R. v. Jameson
 2 Q.B. 425; per Lord Russell of Killowen C.J. at p. 430. Where a man in
a boat at a short distance from the shore was shot by a person on the shore, and died instantly, it was held that the shot
and death were both upon the high seas, and therefore triable under the Offences at Sea Act 1536 (rep.): R. v. Coombes (1785)
1 Leach 388; and see 1 Hawk. c. 37, s. 17. See also post, § 2-49 and § 25-42
ARCHIBOLD as to the development whereby offences, triable under the Offences at Sea Act 1536 are now within the jurisdiction
of the Crown Court.
Summary – Is it a Criminal Investigation?
Section 9 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
to Murder or Manslaughter committed on land outside the UK and gives jurisdiction
(to deal with, inquire of, try, determine and punish) in England or Ireland if committed by a subject of Her Majesty. It is irrespective of whether the victim is subject of Her majesty or not.
Section 10 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
to various acts (poisoning, hurt etc) to a person upon the sea or at any place out of England or Ireland, who shall then die
from these acts in England or Ireland or being hurt in England or Ireland and then dying on the sea or any place outside of
England or Ireland then, - may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined and prosecuted in England or Ireland. APPLIES TO BRITISH SUBJECTS ONLY.
Do We Have Jurisdiction?
Further to the
authorities of the coroner and police outlined in the previous chapters the investigator should also consider jurisdiction
in the circumstances detailed below.
Individual/separate UN conventions are passed to allow the investigation of murder and other serious crime
abroad, ie. Bosnia/Kosovo. It is under the auspices of these conventions that
on occasions UK authorities assist in
the investigation and prosecution of alleged `war crimes’.
International Criminal Court
SIO’s should be aware of pending legislation in relation to the creation of “The International
The Court will have jurisdiction over crimes committed during war and peace, during conflicts within States
and conflicts between States.
The ICC will only be able to prosecute crimes committed after it is set up; it will not have retrospective
The International Criminal Court will work as a Court which is ‘complementary’ to national courts. National courts will retain primary jurisdiction.
The ICC will only take over investigating and prosecuting a crime when the States with jurisdiction are unable or unwilling
genuinely to do so. This might happen for example where conflict has led to a
collapse of the local judicial system or where a dictatorial government refuses to punish its own abuses.
The ICC will only be able to take jurisdiction over an offence
committed in the UK or by a UK
national if our domestic authorities are unable or unwilling genuinely to investigate or prosecute the case. The Bill incorporates statutory offences (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity) into domestic
law so that our courts will always be in a position to try these offences themselves.
Domestic courts will have jurisdiction over these new offences if they are committed in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. They will also have
extra-territorial jurisdiction over these offences if committed outside the UK
by a UK national, or by anyone subject to the jurisdiction of the courts
of the UK armed services.
The Bill has now gone through its second reading and committee stages in the House of Lords and is currently
making its way through Parliament.
The Status of Forces
These are guidelines dictating who has jurisdiction over the investigation of serious crime and covers the
country where the UK forces have serving
In Sovereign countries, the Services police will carry out investigation into a murder involving Service personnel
or their dependants. If, however, a murder occurred on a British Services establishment
abroad of a person who is not a member of the Services or their dependants, then this would be deemed a civilian death, and
unless there are good reasons not to, the investigation would be conducted by the local civilian police.
Sovereign countries and Germany
fall under the NATO wide status of forces agreement.
In more volatile, less established, environments such as the Balkans, a `Memorandum of Understanding' would
outline the investigating body.
information regarding the status of forces agreements and Memorandums of Understanding can be obtained from P&T Command,
RAF Innsworth or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The full address and contact
numbers are attached at Appendix A.
Summary – Do we have jurisdiction?
UN conventions are passed to allow the investigations of murder and other serious crime abroad, ie. Bosnia/Kosovo. It is under the auspices of these conventions that on occasions UK authorities assist in the investigation and prosecution of alleged ‘War
The Status of Forces Agreement
are guidelines dictating who has jurisdiction over the investigation of serious crime and covers the countries where the UK forces have serving personnel.
How Will We Obtain Evidence From Abroad?
Part 1 of the Criminal
Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990
This Act came into effect on the 10th June 1991. It
greatly increased the range of practical assistance which the UK
can give to overseas jurisdictional prosecuting authorities for the purpose of criminal investigations and proceedings. The Act also provides a basis for seeking legal assistance from overseas authorities
for the purpose of criminal investigations and proceedings under the Act. The
Home Secretary’s responsibilities under the Act are carried out on his behalf by the UK Central Authority for Mutual Assistance in criminal matters (UKCA) which is
part of the Judicial Co-operation Unit in the Home Office.
In general, therefore, requests between UK
and overseas authorities for assistance under the Act are routed as follows:-
UK judicial and prosecuting authorities
Overseas central authorities
Overseas judicial and prosecuting authorities
obtained is in general returned through the same channels. Evidence obtained
in England and Wales
under the Act must be returned through the UKCA.
Obtaining overseas evidence for use in the UK
3 of the 1990 Act enables a Justice of the Peace or a Judge, on application, to issue letters of request for the purposes
of obtaining evidence from overseas authorities for use in criminal investigations, or proceedings where an offence has been
committed, or there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed.
An application for the issue of a letter of request may be made by a prosecuting authority or by a person charged in
Section 3(3) allows letters of request for evidence to be issued by the prosecuting authorities themselves,
if they have been designated for this purpose by the Home Secretary. The following
authorities for England, Wales
and Scotland are designated to issue letters
of request as specified in SI 1991/1224:
· The Attorney
General for England and Wales
· The Director
of Public Prosecutions and any Crown Prosecutor
· The Director
of the Serious Fraud Office and any person designated under Section 1(7) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987
· The Secretary
of State for Trade and Industry (President of the Board of Trade)
· The Commissioners
of Customs and Excise
Courts and the High Court of Justice in Scotland
· The Lord
· Any Procurator
Fiscal in Scotland
· The Attorney
General for Northern Ireland
· The Director
of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland
Letters of request must be sent to the UKCA for transmission overseas, except in cases of urgency, when they
may be sent direct to the overseas court or tribunal (Sections 3(4) and 3(5)). Requests
which are sent direct should, nevertheless, be copied to the UKCA, this will assist them in getting evidence received back
to its proper home.
The evidence supplied must not be used for the purposes other than those specified in the letter of request
without the consent of the overseas authorities (Section 3(7)). Such consent
should be obtained by means of a further letter of request.
Police to Police
The 1990 Act does not affect direct police to police co-operation involving assistance of a kind not covered
by the Act. For example, overseas requests for information and unsworn witness
statements transmitted to the UK through
Interpol channels may be executed by the police without the involvement of the UKCA.
Similarly, police requests for information from overseas to assist preliminary investigations in the UK into whether and by whom an offence has been committed,
would not normally be routed through the UKCA.
Interpol London can quite often assist in the
early stages in obtaining information and intelligence from abroad, simply by directing a request for information to the appropriate
It should also be noted that there are numerous countries where we can obtain not only information, but also
evidence on a police to police basis without the need for either a Commission Rogatoire or a Note Verbale. The correct route for such enquiries is via the Interpol London
Bureau who can assist with advice.
In the event that an overseas judicial or prosecuting authority requests assistance of a police to police nature,
through central authority channels, or expects UK requests for such assistance to be submitted through central authorities,
the National Central Bureau of Interpol at NCIS may liaise with the UKCA on how the request should be handled. In general, police to police is unlikely to be speeded up or enhanced by involving central authorities,
which have expertise in judicial rather than operational matters. The UKCA could
draw this to the attention of the requesting authorities, if necessary.
The UKCA has no role in authorising visits of UK police
officers overseas or of overseas officers or officials to the UK. Such authorisation is a matter for the National Central Bureau of Interpol (NCB).
Home Office Publication
Overseas Deployment of Police Officers and Police Support Staff
This document, although recently circulated to all forces, is currently in a draft format. It gives extensive guidelines to all police activity overseas. Of
particular note is Appendix 1bb, which fully outlines the role of the UKCA. Much
of the previous section is a direct lift from this document.
NCIS Publications, Guidelines on how to deal with International letters of request (ILORS)
This NCIS document gives advice and guidance to officers in relation to international letters of request and
to officers travelling abroad to conduct enquiries. It is important to read this
document together with the other signposted material relating to the UKCA.
The document deals with routine, routine becoming urgent and urgent requests for ILORS.
In any case of difficulty, NCIS International can be contacted via NCIS Reserve on 0207 238 8115.
Summary - How will we obtain evidence from abroad?
Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990
Act came into effect on 10th June 1991. It greatly increased the range
of practical assistance which the UK can
give to overseas jurisdictional prosecuting authorities for the purpose of criminal investigations and proceedings. The Act also provides a basis for seeking legal assistance from overseas authorities for the purpose of
criminal investigation and proceedings under the Act. The Home Secretary’s
responsibilities under the Act are carried out on his behalf by the UK Central Authority for Mutual Assistance in criminal
matters (UKCA), which is part of the Judicial Co-operation Unit in the Home Office.
Home Office Publications Overseas Deployment of Police Officers and Police Support Staff
document although recently circulated to all forces, is currently in a draft format.
It gives extensive guidelines to all Police activity overseas. Of particular
note is appendix 1bb, which fully outlines the role of the UK CA
NCIS Publications Guidelines on How to deal with Intended Letters of Request (ILORS)
document gives help/guidance/advice to officers travelling abroad to conduct enquiries.
Comments and Conclusion
Foreign travel by investigators should include specific risk assessment by Security Service if in a sensitive
area. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office can also provide travel advice.
Authority for continuation of conditions of service need to be obtained from Police Authority or Home Office. Particularly relevant for vulnerable posting for example Kosovo.
A scenario of a British National killed in a civil uprising or war is not difficult to imagine in the context
of this paper. The role of the UN and their investigatory body such as International
Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia ICTY should be understood as UK SIO’s could be required to work to that agency. The role will be co-ordinated through the Foreign Office, possibly by a dedicated
unit or the Counter Terrorist Policy Department (CTPD). Their current contact
details are shown at Appendix ‘A’.
Additional statutes worthy of note are:-
Internationally Protected Person(s) Act 1978
Section 1(a) Lists offences committed abroad that can be investigated/prosecuted in UK. (Obviously includes murder).
Section 2(b) deals with aiding and abetting therefore in the example of Yemen
if an internationally protected individual was affected then a prosecution in the UK could have been viable.
“a protected person” means, in relation to an alleged offence,
any of the following, namely—
(a) a person who at the time of the alleged offence is a Head of State, a
member of a body which performs the functions of Head of State under the constitution of the State, a Head of Government or
a Minister for Foreign Affairs and is outside the territory of the State in which he holds office;
(b) a person who at the time of the alleged offence is a representative or
an official of a State or an official or agent of an international organisation of an inter-governmental character, is entitled
under international law to special protection from attack on his person, freedom or dignity and does not fall within the preceding
(c) a person who at the time of the alleged offence is a member of the family
of another person mentioned in either of the preceding paragraphs and —
(i) if the other person is mentioned
in paragraph (a) above, is accompanying him,
(ii) if the other person is mentioned
in paragraph (b) above, is a member of his household;
Whilst this legislation is relevant to signatory countries Section 4 does allow in certain circumstances an
extension for unsigned countries.
Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978
Taking of Hostages Act 1982
Terrorism Act 2000.
This legislation may be case specific, it is relevant to murder abroad and an SIO may deal with particular
Areas of Expertise
The Serious Crime Group and the Anti Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police have substantial experience
in the investigation of Serious Crime, including, Murder of British Nationals overseas at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth
Assistance and Advice can be obtained by contacting the Heads of these Departments at the addresses shown at
The National Crime Faculty provide help and expertise in the investigation of Murder and Serious Crime. They are able to supply details of SIO’s who may have experience of similar
investigations. The details of the NCF Help Desk are shown at Appendix ‘A’.
The Crown Prosecution Service will also provide help and advice, their main concern in investigations of this
type is in establishing jurisdiction. Advice in the first instance should be
through CPS Casework Directorate at CPS Headquarters. The CPS contact details
are shown at Appendix ‘A’.
Society of England and Wales
44 Ormond Avenue
Middlesex. TW12 2RX
Legal Matters Unit
Old Admiralty Building
London. SW1A 2AF
UK Central Authority
Queen Anne’s Gate
London. SW1H 9AT
and Community Policy Directorate
Queen Anne’s Gate
London. SW1H 9AT
Criminal Intelligence Service
PO Box 8000
London. SE11 5EN
Reserve (24 hours)
0207 238 8112
P & T Command
Gloucester. GL3 1EZ
712612 Ext. 5766
P & SS
814766 Ext. 2607
London. SW1H OBG
London. SW1H OBG
and Commonwealth Office
Counter Terrorist Policy Dept
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AP
Prosecution Service Headquarters
London EC4M 7EX
Hampshire RG27 0JW
London SW1A 2HB
Wiltshire SN9 6BE
SEC (P+P) 2G
Hampshire PO1 3LS
Gloucestershire GL3 1EZ