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In the wake of several terrorist attacks in European countries, including France, armed French police have begun patrols on cross-Channel ferries in a bid to prevent attacks. The governments of Britain and France are in talks about French officers patrolling for full crossings, France’s marine police said.

Speaking to the AFP news agency, French marine police spokesman said a “permanent unit” had been deployed to carry out high-visibility patrols on passenger ferries. The marine gendarmes will carry out patrols, which will be random but regular, with the aim of securing these vessels against the terrorist threat,” he said.

According to the, the first patrol was conducted by three French sea marshals who arrived on the Brittany Ferries vessel by helicopter, and then proceeded to patrol the bridge and passenger areas of the vessel.

Professor Andrew Serdy, a maritime law expert at Southampton University, said French police have “no jurisdiction” in UK territorial waters, except by agreement with the British government.

But he said airlifting officers showed an “abundance of caution” – and suggested France may be “treading carefully” until a deal with the UK is agreed.

Outside of UK and French territorial waters Prof Serdy said jurisdiction would depend on where a vessel was registered.