Complaint has been created to reveal the truth behind the paradise facade that is Bermuda and to display the evidence in support of the author's personal complaint; that success in pursuing drug dealers and a substantial involvement in a 1990 investigation ('Miranda'), caused the writer to be subverted, betrayed and constructively dismissed.  That I was 'subverted and betrayed' is the account of another Bermuda officer, a police Inspector formerly of the narcotics department, they are not my words.

Your interest in my personal grievance is of secondary importance.  Whilst my accounts are truthful and my complaint  just, I am hopeful the content of the site will be of interest.  By reading the content of this site, you may gain some insight into the island's problems and its police 'service'.  It may also place you and others on warning whether the intention is to visit or work in the islands; forewarned is forearmed.

This site is, in the main, comprised of actual police reports to include diary entries, intelligence, statements and transcripts of recordings.  Much of the content has never been seen, particularly the intelligence reports. 

In 1986 the author resigned from the Metropolitan police (London, England) and on 3rd March 1986, flew to Bermuda with a dozen or so other new UK recruits.  We arrived in Bermuda, a mixture of county and city officers with varied expertise and exposure to crime.

The island seemed to be a paradise, albeit an expensive one.  The police service was to many, simply a means to an end; a job to perform to enable the remaining time to be spent enjoying life.  Sadly, internal politics and ambitions of many within the island's constabulary meant that the police service was not the healthiest of occupations to pursue.  Many had run-ins with other officers over petty issues often arising from jealousies or envy; after all the Uk officers had far greater policing experience and posed a threat in that they may secure positions in the ranks keeping local officers from progressing.  To some, submitting a complaint about a colleague was not simply a means by which to come to the attention of the senior ranks, it was a simple way to undermine the worth of a fellow officer or demoralise them.  The process is simple; if you are unable to rise above your colleagues by demonstrating ability, why not drag them down below your level? 

The police service was little more than a joke in many respects; poorly equipped and manned by inexperienced and inadequately trained staff.  It took little to make a splash in the little pool that was the Bermuda police service - it was not difficult to understand why an island of 60,000 inhabitants required over 400 officers to police them; if you only 1/2 train and equip officers, you will need twice as many. 

According to Bermuda's on-line A-Z central information resource (1998), published by the Royal Gazette (Bermuda's national and international daily newspaper since 1828):

"The police service has 438 full time officers in Bermuda's 21 square miles.  At 21 officers per square mile, it has by more than 10 times the highest density anywhere in the world of police officers per square mile".

Within the last two years Government funding has included the increase of Narcotics officers, from 23 to 29 officers to more effectively combat Bermuda's most serious area of crime.

Why do you require so many officers and why increase the number of narcotics officers unless there is a problem?

An officer was not expected to do much; the odd ticket for not wearing a crash helmet on a moped, attend the  scene of a crime and pass a report to the CID, try to calm civil / matrimonial disputes and arrest the odd drunk / disorderly person.  Not overly taxing and an arrest a week at most would suffice.

As an example of the lack of interest or imagination showed by most, I was somewhat surprised in my first year or so of wandering the streets in uniform, to find a report submitted by me bearing a congratulatory remark for my original issue of tickets for ... bald tyres.  Seems no one had thought of it!

However, coincidentally in or about 1986, crack cocaine became prevalent on the island.  After a year or so of finding my feet and deciding that I would try to do some work (not without also enjoying the social scene), I turned my hand to those who used drugs.  As a uniform 'bobby' on the beat, I could not hope to stumble across 'Mr Big' carrying a kilo of cocaine on the street, but I could plague 'the little guy'; the lowest end of the food chain - the user. 

It was like fishing in a barrel; there are certain areas where drugs are sold:

  • Court Street
  • Middletown
  • St Monica's Mission
  • The incubator

were (are) the main hot-spots about Hamilton, the island's capital, the first two being easily reached on foot from the police station.

Drugs are not manufactured on the island (aside of a little cannabis) and so you either stopped people going into or coming out of the above areas.  Not exactly rocket science.  It was / is easy.  Not only was there an abundance of drug, no one was paying particular attention to the users (or the suppliers it appeared from the amount of drug circulating) so they were confident.  Confidence bred contempt and in turn carelessness.  In addition, your average Bermudian drug user is a darn sight more pleasurable to deal with than their UK counterpart.  Okay, so the odd one might run away (often encouraged to make the evening more interesting) but seldom did they put up a serious fight; they simply capitulated.

This did not stop the 'no go area' myth that was perpetrated within and without the police service.  Court Street, Middletown, St Monica's (or '42nd Street' as the locals like to imagine it - bless 'em) and the incubator, all carried with them tales of the unexpected - little urban legends intended to create safe havens and enable the drug trade to flourish.

It was rare to catch a white Bermudian in possession of drugs, very rare.  It begs the question 'why' and one can only guess; they do not take drugs, they hide the stuff well, they have better importation methods, they are assisted by officials / officers, the police are scared to stop / search them because they were more likely to complain or appoint a solicitor to complain?  Who knows.  I do know that when I arrested a white Bermudian (Stanley Walenciak) in my second year of service, it was viewed with great interest.  A conviction followed principally because the poor chap was represented by Kim White.  In this respect we were lucky, a less honest (some would say competent) solicitor would have given us a run for our money and probably ensured the case never went to Court.

I was usually found amongst the more run-down areas of the island.  I was once 'reported' for allegedly 'sneaking out of Hamilton police station 'looking for trouble', when all I had actually done was walk out at 3.30am (ish) when every other officer was asleep.  I did no more than plod down Court Street whereupon I will admit, I found some trouble.  Nothing serious, but enough to rock the boat and result in a 'bollocking' (telling off) for 'looking for trouble'.  Sorry, but I thought it was my job to uncover and address 'trouble'; is it any wonder crime proliferates and there is a general disregard for 'the law'.  Seems I did not maintain the status quo.

Eventually, my antics became a bit much for Hamilton police station and the drug unit (Narcotics Department).  I came to attention for two reasons, one good, one better (dependent on your perspective):

  1. I would try to arrest three people a night in separate incidents.  Okay, it became a hobby, something to while away the time; not the greatest attitude for undertaking the work but it provided a simple goalThe result was practical and the job satisfaction was substantially greater than driving around in circles or sleeping on the job.  Preferably I would arrest for cocaine or heroin possession but managed to mix in the odd disqualified driver and cannabis user for good measurer.  I can't say that I took cannabis seriously.  I never tried the stuff until I left the island but whilst I do not believe it is entirely harmless (what is?) and would not want to see it 'legalised' ('legislated' to enable use is a different matter) I have an understanding of those who use it to relax much as I would consume a beer (occasionally to excess).  Returning to Bermuda ... it was amusing to find the people I had arrested that night were, the first thing the following morning, queuing outside the door of the narcotics office; they could not wait to see a narcotics officer and 'spill the beans' in an attempt to have their prosecution terminated before the matter progressed to Court.  This became a little embarrassing for the narcotics department; on the one hand they were confronted with many people seeking to provide information in return for a break (inform on their associates to escape prosecution themselves) on the other, I was arresting more people per week than the entire narcotics unit.  It should be borne in mind that mine were not 'quality' arrests, simply low end users (as opposed to 'pushers', the suppliers).Bermuda is an odd little place with many good features.  One of its plus points is that it is small.  For some residents it is too small; they have to escape to the USA now and again and this means a short flight. However, if you have a drug conviction the USA does not want to know you - they will not let you in. Great!  This meant that almost every user I arrested who was previously unknown (not the subject of a conviction), would attempt to attempt to do a deal with the narcotics department; give up someone higher up the 'food chain' in return for the charges against them being dropped.
  2. I was representing police officers at disciplinary hearings.  This, in hindsight was not the brightest of ideas for no other reason than I am a perfectionist and passionate about everything I do; I was representing police officers who had been accused of 'offences' yet there did not appear to be sufficient evidence to support the allegations.  The problem with representing a police officer, a co-worker, is that they were of the same rank as me; above a cadet but below a police dog in the order of importance.  Invariably those making the allegations against the lower ranks were from the higher ranks.  Add to this the fact that the investigating officer would be of a higher rank, as would the prosecuting officer, the witnesses and the presiding officer and you had a pretty one-sided battle on your hands.  The good news was that just because they were 'senior' did not mean they were more sensible, smart or switched-on.  Many were as sharp as a marble yet pursued underhand tactics and were found out.  I represented lower rank officers in four disciplinary hearings.  Not one of the officers had a conviction upheld and most were acquitted at the end of the hearing. 

It was only a matter of time before I applied to join the narcotics department and the following was the response I received from the then Commissioner of Police, Clive (the coward) Donald.

CONSTABLE 217 P.B. SWIFT    2nd May 1988


I am in receipt of your application dated 21 April, 1988 for a transfer to Narcotics.  As I told you recently this will be considered as soon as the Force manpower situation improves.

I note that you application contained several favourable comments by your Supervisors about your ability and productivity as a Police Officer.  (A copy will be placed on your Personal file).   I would like to congratulate you on your motivation and application as a police officer.

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It was this Officer (Clive Donald) who was later to dispense with my services and about whom I was to submit a formal complaint.

However, following the submission of the above report my arrest rate did not fall off.  I was eventually called to the Narcotics Detective Chief Inspector's office, Prospect Bermuda.  I was informed that I was to commence duties as a member of the Narcotics street team, this was subject to the following conditions:

  1. I no longer represented police officer's the subject of disciplinary actions
  2. I was to concentrate on arresting 'anything that moved'; Chief Inspector Ramsey wished to be the first officer in charge of the narcotics department to achieve the 1,000 arrest figure for a year.

I commenced work in the department Tuesday 8th November 1998.  I understand that, to this day, I remain  the officer with the least service in Bermuda to be transferred to 'narco'.  On Thursday 10th November 1988, I seized the largest amount of cocaine (with a prisoner) that had been discovered that year.  Whilst only 3 ounces, this was sufficient to see the prisoner, Vernon Dill, receive 6 years imprisonment.  The arrest will be fully documented in my diary pages.

Within a month the OIC Narcotics was endorsing my diary "Good work.  Good diary.  Continue".  It was like handing in homework; so long as there was good content and this was presented in a neat fashion, one could not help but achieve a 'gold star'.

On and off duty, there was never a dull moment, as evidenced by a couple of reports that appeared in the press; a confrontation with the French one night and some personal digressions associated with a Brazilian visitor.

Within a month of joining the department my workload was such that 8 hours was simply not enough to conduct enquiries and complete documentation to a standard that conviction was inevitable.  So began the curtailing of my overtime, I therefore worked in my own time.  I purchased my own tape recorder (there was no such facility in the office) and eventually a word processor to assist with the workload and ensure my confidential reports did not need to pass through the civilian typist.

The diary entries will appear on this site and detail my activities.  There was a lull when I became assigned to the Asset Forfeiture Department which would have been more aptly named Drugs Asset Forfeiture Team (DAFT).  This was new legislation, law that was cumbersome and impractical.  A 'course' in Miami was almost pointless, an unnecessary waste of time and money.  In addition I spent 2 weeks in Jamaica as part of a firearms 'training course' due to being a member of the Emergency Response Team (Bermuda's firearms unit), or Fast Action Response Team - FART; all they did was fart around - it was little more than a good laugh, one which I will admit I enjoyed.

I applied to be returned to the Narcotics Department on 19th March 1991, the AFT was mind numbing, one can only 'work' with Alan Cleave so long!  Such was my resolve to leave the 'team' I asked that, if there were no vacancies in the narcotics department, I be allowed to return to uniform.

On 21st March 1990, I was summoned to Superintendent Birmingham's office where I met Mr Ramsey (OIC Narco').  The conversation was brief, I was to be reinstated in the Narcotics department with immediate effect.  I was described (by Mr Birmingham) as a loose cannon who he wished to use.  He had a problem, drugs were a major problem and his 'intelligence' section was poorly equipped, working in a "pig sty".

At 4.45pm that same day the Narcotics Team were on standby and the first major interception of cocaine and cannabis occurred that day.

1990 saw more major seizures and I found myself involved in most.  It was a manic year, to quote Chief Inspector Bissell, "it was the best year the Narcotics department had ever seen".  My overtime from the enquiries was substantial, but necessary.  I was informed (by Mr Ramsey) that I was earning the same as an Assistant Commissioner; more jealousy.

The Miranda enquiry effectively put an end to my days in the Narcotics department.   I was tipped off by a USA colleague that there were problems within Bermuda, within the police service.  I did not heed the warning.  I advised George Jackson (now deputy commissioner of police) of my concerns but did not receive the support I expected.  I was asked to hand over a tape I had made of a telephone conversation with the US Authorities who advised:

  • a former shadow minister of justice was a cocaine user and linked to the importation of cocaine
  • the then head of the narcotics department was associated with the cocaine importers who had murdered a lady suspected of being our informant

Within days found myself paraded before the Commissioner of police, Clive Donald.  I was transferred to uniform late August 1990, but contrary to the COP's directions, Inspector Jackson of the Narcotics Department requested my return on a day to day basis.

Why was I transferred to uniform?  Because it is alleged I:

  • bucked authority
  • attempted to tape record the then OIC Narco, Mr Ramsey

The niceties of their own discipline code escaped (probably intentionally) senior officers of the Bermuda Police service and the island's governor; I was entitled to have the allegations put to me and be the subject of a discipline enquiry / hearing.  But the allegations were pathetic, groundless and would never stand up.  Furthermore, I had already demonstrated my ability to challenge disciplinary procedures when defending officers.  Instead, contrary to Force Standing Instructions, I was punished with out trial; transferred to uniform and informed my contract would not be renewed.  So much for my human rights.  The Bermuda police constabulary's attitude and actions were distasteful; they make rules to suit themselves and it is hardly surprising that the constabulary is in such a mess.

I left the Island 16th December 1990.  My 5 year contract was due to expire 3rd March 1991.  I had accumulated so much leave and overtime hours that I was paid to March 3rd and therefore completed my 5 year contract.  I suspect I continue to hold the record for overtime on the island; in addition to my 160 hour month, I undertook 279 additional hours one month (the 279 is calculated by reference to time and a half and double time).

I submitted my complaint and the issues were brushed under the carpet; I was 3500 miles away and no longer in the employ of Bermuda.  They had achieved their aim.  This site is intended to redress the balance and provide me an opportunity to detail my complaint, expose the island's drug trade and the police constabulary's inability or unwillingness to address it.  The Bermuda police service suffers from a draconian system of discipline which side-steps human rights and runs rough-shod over the well being of officers.  Fear and bullying are the management skills developed by many senior officers.  UK officers who find themselves 'policing' the islands often do so for the financial reward.  The constables have no option but to accept what they find and tow the line; no young officer wants to have their contract terminated, or not renewed and who knows what Bermuda will say about you when you leave and try to apply to re-join a UK constabulary.

I do not believe there is another site like this on the internet.  I do not expect you to take much interest in my abuse at the hands of Bermuda officials, I hope you will enjoy the stories and supporting information.

Remember: where (senior) police officers abuse the power afforded them by their position they also betray the trust the public confers on the service as a whole.

Thank you

Philip Swift
Former DC 217 Bermuda Narcotics.




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