The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act stipulates that “where any murder or manslaughter shall be committed on land out of the United Kingdom … by any subject of Her Majesty [it] may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined, and punished … in England or Ireland”.
A lack of forensic testing around the cause of death in many parts of the developing world and even the European Union may preclude an adequate police investigation. As a result, leverage from the bereaved family and UK coroners may bring about a UK police investigation conducted abroad.
The UK police faces many other potential challenges and pitfalls in carrying out overseas investigations. Aside from cultural differences and language barriers, UK police officers deal with an array of judicial processes and varying standards of policing practice. In much of the developing world, for instance, there will be little or no access to computers, DNA or fingerprinting assets; across the globe, penalties for and definitions of offences will vary.
There are also challenges in managing relationships not only with local police and international institutions (for example, Interpol and Europol) but also those UK government bodies that will have an involvement, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Victim Support Homicide Service, and coroners.