Capital: Madrid
Population: 47,190,493
Government type: Parliamentary monarchy
Location: Southwestern Europe, bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea; to the north east by France, Andorra and the Bay of Biscay; and to the northwest and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal
Area: 504,782 km²
Land boundaries: Total 1,919 km; Andorra 65 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km
Ethnic groups: Composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions: Roman Catholic (71%), other (2.7%), no religion (24%)
Languages: Castilian Spanish (100%), Catalan (17%), Galician (7%), Basque (2%)



The Iberian peninsula enters written records as a land populated largely by the Iberians, Basques and Celts. After an arduous conquest, the peninsula came under the rule of Rome. During the early Middle Ages it came under Germanic rule but later, it was conquered by Moorish invaders from North Africa. In a process that took centuries, the small Christian kingdoms in the north gradually regained control of the peninsula. The last Moorish kingdom fell in the same year Columbus reached the Americas. A global empire began which saw Spain become the strongest kingdom in Europe and the leading world power for a century and a half and the largest overseas empire for three centuries.
Continued wars and other problems eventually led to a diminished status. The Napoleonic invasions of Spain led to chaos, triggering independence movements that tore apart most of the empire and left the country politically unstable. Prior to the Second World War, Spain suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of an authoritarian government, whose rule oversaw a period of stagnation but that finished with a powerful economic surge. Eventually democracy was peacefully restored in the form of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. In 1986, Spain joined the European Union, experiencing a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth.


The country of Spain is integrated by 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities. Autonomous communities are integrated by provinces, and in turn, provinces are integrated by municipalities. Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate.Spain is organizationally structured as a so-called State of Autonomies. All Autonomous Communities have their own elected parliaments, governments, public administrations, budgets and resources and are the first level administrative division in Spain. mossos_pedreraThe basic institutional law of each autonomous community is the Statute of Autonomy, which establishes the name of the community according to its historical identity, the limits of their territories, the name and organization of the institutions of government and rights they enjoy according the Constitution. Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque Country as historic nationalities, were granted self-government through a rapid process. Progressively other communities in revisions to their Statutes of Autonomy have also taken that denomination in accordance to their historical regional identity.


calle alcalá (6)There are four police forces in Spain: The Civil Guard, the National Police Corps, the Autonomic Police forces, and the Local or Municipal Police.
The Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) is a police force with a military structure which was founded as a national police force in 1844 during the reign of Queen Isabel II of Spain. The force is responsible to the Ministry of the Interior. The first Guardia police academy was established in the town of Valdemoro south of Madrid, in 1855.
Police funcions include amongst others: highway patrol ,protection of the Royal Family and the King of Spain, military police, counter drugs operations, anti-smuggling operations, customs and ports of entry control, airport security, safety of prisons and safeguarding of prisoners, weapons licenses and arms control, security of border areas, bomb squad and explosives, security in rural areas, anti-terrorism, coast guard , police deployements abroad (embassies), hunting permits, environmental law enforcement, etc.
The Civil Guard has currently 80.000 officers in its ranks and the minister of Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz is responsible of it. Military personnel hold higher level positions in the guard. Special units are available for crowd control and intelligence. They typically patrol in pairs. Their traditional hat is the tricornio, originally a tricorne. Its use now is reserved to parades or ceremonies, being now substituted by a cap, a beret or the characteristic “gorra teresiana”. The symbol of the Guardia Civil consists of the Royal Crown of Spain, a sword and a fasces. The different units have variations of this symbol.

The Guardia Civil has been involved in operations as peacekeepers in United Nations sponsored operations, including operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Angola, Congo, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Haiti, East Timor and El Salvador. They also served with the Spanish contingent in the war in Iraq, mainly in intelligence gathering.
The National Police Corps (Policia Nacional – CNP) is the national civilian police force of Spain. The CNP is mainly responsible for policing urban areas, whilst countryside policing is generally the responsibility of the Guardia Civil. The CNP operates under the authority of Spain’s Ministry of the Interior (Jorge Fernández Díaz). They mostly handle criminal, judicial, terrorism and immigration matters. The powers of the National Police Corps varies according to the autonomous communities.The CNP is responsible to the Ministry of the Interior and has its own recruitment and training policies, separate from the Civil Guard. The National Police duties are regulated by the Organic law 2/1986 of March 13, 1986 as follows:

1. The issuing of identity documents – ID cards and passports.
2. To control receipts and outgoings of the foreign people and Spaniards.
3. Immigration law, refuge and asylum, extradition and expulsion.
4. Gaming enforcement
5. Drug enforcement
6. Collaboration with Interpol and Europol
7. Control of private security companies
8. General law enforcement

The 1986 organic law unifying the separate uniformed and plainclothes branches of the national police was a major reform that required a considerable period of time to be brought into full effect. The former plainclothes service, known as the Superior de Policía (Higher Police Corps), had a supervisory and coordinating role in police operations, conducted domestic surveillance, collected intelligence, investigated major crimes, issued identity documents, and carried out liaison with foreign police forces. The uniformed service was a completely separate organization with a complement of about 50,000 officers, including a small number of female recruits who were first accepted for training in 1984. Nowadays the CNP has unified in the same police structure those two former branches.
The National Police Corps has currently 87.872 officers in its ranks.
The Autonomic Police Forces in Spain are three: Ertzaintza (Basque Country), Policia Foral (Navarra), and Policia de la Generalitat-Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalonia).
The Policia de la Generelitat – Mossos d’Esquadra is the police force of the Generalitat of Catalonia, refounded as police through Law 19/1983, which was adopted by the Parliament of Catalonia. As a global police, it performs the functions entrusted by law to the Security Forces and specifically the following ones:

· Public safety and public order, preventing and neutralizing risk situations to people and property
· Administrative Police
· Judicial Police of criminal investigations, including organized crime and terrorism, under the terms established by law
· Amicable settlement of private disputes
· Cooperation and collaboration with local authorities
· Policing road safety and traffic, neutralizing and preventing risk situations to the safety of persons and property on interurban roads and, if applicable, in the urban roads
· Policing emergency and civil protection
The police force currently has 16,654 officers who are distributed into a complex structure of central and territorial agencies.
The Mossos d’Esquadra was one of the first armed forces in Europe with characteristics of a police force. Yet, it appeared in the early eighteenth century as the first organized squads of civil people responsible for maintaining public order, ensuring the roads and the safety of people when the regular army, which was in charge of the surveillance, was mobilized for different missions.
After several historical stages of dissolution, the restoration of democracy allowed the start of a new phase of Mossos d’Esquadra, nowadays the Police of the Government of Catalonia.
The new police force was created from the existing one, became dependent on the Government of Catalonia, and acquired a new legal status as a police force of Catalonia in 1983. The Mossos d’Esquadra became a police force with the willing to be rooted in the culture and people of Catalonia, where it belongs and serve.
In 1983, the first year of this new era, the new police force is founded and in 1994 the territorial deployment started and new responsibilities were assumed.
During this period, the replacement of State Security Forces took place in Catalonia, and in 2005 the Mossos d’Esquadra arrived to Barcelona, a city with a high concentration of population, which was an important challenge in the deployment process of the police force.
In 2008 the deployment concluded and the operational capacity was achieved through all the territory, becoming The Mossos d’Esquadra the global police of Catalonia.

Number of police officers of Mossos d’Esquadra 2011 by rank and gender




































The Local Police, also know in some municipalities as Municipal Police or Guardia Urbana, is responsible the local municipality and its police officers are recruited by local government.

The Police Force from the Basque Country is Ertzaintza.


The female presence in the Ertzaintza is bigger than in the majority of the State police forces.

This percentage has increased in the last promotions.

Despite this fact, female representation is still far below the figure registered in other European police forces.


The Citizens’ Initiative Office for the improvement of the public security system, Ekinbide, is the service responsible for receiving, reviewing and responding to complaints, comments and suggestions for improving the public security system in the Basque Country and the services that it provides to citizens, in order to improve the quality of and confidence in these services.

ekinbideIts area of competence is the set of actions, services and ‘deliverables’ provided by the public security system bodies and services in the Basque country:

  1. The authorities with competences in the field of public security, as well as competences in public security, emergencies and civil protection.
  2. The police forces of the Basque Country, as well as local policemen and traffic wardens employed by the municipalities.
  3. The emergency and civil protection services, emergency coordination centres, fire prevention, fire-fighting and rescue services and other members of the Basque emergency care and civil protection system.
  4. The coordinating, advisory and participation bodies in the field of public security



The origins of the current Ertzaintza as a police force of the Basque Country can be traced back to the old municipal militias. The first permanent police corps of a professional nature were created in the 19th century as a response to the banditry caused by the continuous social and political upheaval. The decisive argument for its configuration was the First Carlist War, when the Mikeletes of Biscay and Gipuzkoa and the Miñones of Araba commenced their activities.

After the war, the Spanish government attempted to recover the functions carried out by these regional forces and transfer them to the Civil Guard.

The end of the Second Carlist War led to a reduction of personnel and operational capabilities of the regional police forces, which nevertheless continued to exist and were able to carry out their tasks.

On 1 October 1936, the Basque Statute of Autonomy came into force, leading to the establishment of an autonomous Government. One of the priorities of the new government on the back of the recently started civil war was public order.

The Basque Department of the Interior set up the basis for several institutions such as the International Police Force, the Maritime Police Force and the Public Order Corps. However, the main public security measure taken was undoubtedly the creation of a police force named Ertzaña, with foot and motorised (Igiletua) divisions, totalling joint forces of around 1,500 officers.

When the war concluded, the Ertzaña was dissolved, however no legal provisions reflect this dissolution, as Franco’s regime pretended that this institution had never existed in the first place.

With the dissolution of the Ertzaña and the police forces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa, the police corps of Araba and Nafarroa remained the last vestige of what once were the regional forces of the Basque Country.

Forty years on, after democracy had been restored, the Department of the Interior of the Basque Government took up the spirit of the Ertzaña of 1936 to design, in 1980, the new autonomous police force of the Basque Country, the Ertzaintza. A Royal Decree re-established the Forales and Mikeletes in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, and gave a new organisational structure to the Miñones corps in Araba. These institutions were incorporated into the new Basque Police Force. The regional police forces are therefore the regulatory basis for the present-day Ertzaintza.

This new police force grew steadily since 1982 and was progressively deployed throughout the entire Autonomous Community of the Basque Country to take on responsibilities across the entire territory in 1995, replacing the various Spanish police forces. Up to twenty-one classes of police officers trained to perform a full range of police roles have graduated from the Police Academy of the Basque Country in Arkaute in all these years. The deployment began with the roles of protection of institutions and traffic control and management, and went on to progressively take on the role of citizen security throughout the entire territory, being deemed completed in September 1995 when it finally reached Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Currently, the Ertzaintza boasts a staff of 8,000 officers divided into two divisions, each specialising in specific police tasks. A team of professionals whose mission is to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens and guarantee their security against all types of crime.


The aim of the Quality Management System, in this case, the one implemented by the Ertzaintza, is to ensure that the treatment provided or action taken by the different officers involved in a process is always the same, regardless of the recipient of those services, their specific providers, together with the place where they are dispensed. Standardising and normalising the services and actions, together with fostering their improvement and guaranteeing the satisfaction of the recipients would be the tenets of the ISO 9001:2008 quality standard. Click here for further information on this quality standard.

Naturally, the sought-after service standard is of the highest level, always exceeding the minimums required by the different legislation and regulations.

Once this idea has been launched, and given that the Ertzaintza’s work is to provide overall support and service for the general public, the decision was taken for certification within the quality management system of some specific processes, chosen for their key importance within police work.

The processes involved in the system, currently, are as follows:

  • Arrest process
  • Procedure implemented in cases of gender and domestic violence
  • Explosive Deactivation Unit procedures
  • Forensic Science Unit procedures

The following quality management tools envisaged in the ISO 9001 standards stand out in the case of the Ertzaintza:

  • The quality policy
  • Managing the documentation of the system
  • Monitoring and control mechanisms


  • Control plans
  • Preventive and corrective actions
  • Internal audits
  • Managing suppliers
  • Permanent Commissions


  • External audits
  • Grievances, complaints and claims
  • Satisfaction surveys

Quality management within the Ertzaintza is no mere certification endorsed by AENOR, but rather is a verifiable reflection of a continuous improvement spirit and of a desire to always provide the best possible service to the general public. Furthermore, it is not a watertight system, but rather it is connected to the many officers involved: from those service providers under the control of the quality system, to, for example the personal ratings awarded by the lawyers that deal with the people under arrest, which results in a clear benefit for society overall.


The pyramid making up the Basque Police structure as to Ranks and Categories shows the uncompleted evolution of this police institution which took its first steps from the Basic Scale and in which the internal promotion has not covered the higher commanding ranks yet.


Madrid Municipal Police Force, founded in 1838 is one of the oldest local Police Force of Spain. Our Institution is created in response to the population growth of the capital, thus acquiring the city Council the commitment to secure and to guarantee the coexistence among the people of Madrid.

Devoted in the early days to enforce municipal regulations, Madrid Municipal Police Force has assumed new responsibilities according to the evolution of the city. In 1971 with the building_spainincorporation of women to Madrid Municipal Police, the 5th Traffic Unit was created, with its own female high rank officers.
With more than 6.500 men and women, Madrid Municipal Police Force is the largest of the State, assuming competences in the various fields of security.
Madrid Municipal Police main roles:
• To prevent and respond to public security problems and to assist victims
• To facilitate good neighbour policy
• To improve road safety and prevent and act on the basis of traffic accidents and assist the victims.
• To ensure order and security during mass events in collaboration with other security forces and organizers.
• To assist and to help citizens in case of catastrophe or major disaster and incidents on public spaces.

Nowadays, Madrid is divided in 21 districts, and there is an Integral District Unit (U.I.D.) in each of them, assuming the generic competences of Municipal Police. In addition there are specialized units on:

– Domestic violence.
– Citizens asístanse.
– Assistance to minors; victims and aggressors (Police Guardian).
– Traffic Accident Report Unit.
– Judicial Coordination Unit.
– Crowd control.
– Investigation of Occupational Accidents Unit.
– Road safety.
– Environmental Protection Unit.

Under the dependence of the City Mayor, the structure of this armed and civilian institution is hierarchical.

Number of police officers in Madrid Municipal Police in 2012, by rank and gender.


For further information click on the link below to access Madrid Municipal Police webpage.