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Cuerpo Nacional de Policía (Spain)

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Cuerpo Nacional de Policía (Spain)

National Police Force
Cuerpo Nacional de Policía
Common name Policía Nacional
Abbreviation CNP
Logo of the National Police Force.
Badge of the National Police Force.
Motto Ley y Orden
Law and Order
Agency overview
Formed March 13, 1986
Preceding agencies
  • Cuerpo Superior de Policía
  • Policía Nacional
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Population 46,661,950
Legal jurisdiction As per operations jurisdiction.
Governing body Government of Spain
Constituting instruments
General nature
  • Law enforcement
  • Civilian police
Operational structure
Overviewed by Directorate-General of the Police and the Civil Guard
Headquarters Madrid, Spain
Officers 87,872
Minister responsible Jorge Fernández Díaz[1], Minister of the Interior
Agency executive Ignacio Cosidó[2], Director-General

The National Police Force (Spanish: Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, CNP; [ˈkwerpo naθjoˈnal de poliˈθi.a]) 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 Civil Guard, the Spanish gendarmerie. The CNP operates under the authority of Spain's Ministry of the Interior. They mostly handle criminal, judicial, terrorism and immigration matters. The powers of the National Police Force varies according to the autonomous communities, Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalonia, and Policía Foral (Foruzaingoa) in Navarre are the primary police agencies while BESCAM in the Madrid region is more of a resources provider. In Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Galicia, and Valencia the National Police units are functionally acting directly under the orders of the Autonomous Communities to which they are attached.


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 Force), but often referred to as the "secret police," consisted of some 9,000 officers. Prior to 1986, it 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.[3]

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. The Director General of the National Police Force, a senior official of the Ministry of Interior, commanded 13 regional headquarters, 50 provincial offices, and about 190 municipal police stations. In the nine largest cities, several district police stations served separate sections of the city. The chief of police of each station was in command of both the uniformed and the plainclothes officers attached to the station. A centrally controlled Special Operations Group (Grupo Especial de Operaciones--GEO) was an elite fighting unit trained to deal with terrorist and hostage situations.[4]

The principal weapons regularly used by the uniformed police were 9mm pistols, 9mm submachine guns, CETME and NATO 7.62mm rifles, and various forms of riot equipment. Their original uniform consisted of light brown trousers and dark brown jackets.[5]

The initial training phase for recruits to the National Police Force was nine months, followed by a year of practical training. Promotions to corporal, sergeant, and sergeant major were based on seniority, additional training, and performance. In the Franco era, most police officers were seconded from the army. Under a 1978 law, future police officers were to receive separate training, and army officers detailed to the police were to be permanently transferred. By 1986 only 170 army officers remained in the National Police Force. Under the 1986 organic law, military-type training for police was to be terminated, and all candidate officers were to attend the Higher Police School at Ávila, which previously had served as the three-year training center for the Higher Police Force. The ranks of the plainclothes corps--commissioners, subcommissioners, and inspectors of first, second, and third class--were to be assimilated into the ranking system of the uniformed police--colonel, lieutenant colonel, major, captain, and lieutenant. Two lower categories --subinspection and basic--would include all nonofficer uniformed personnel. The newly unified National Police Force was to be responsible for issuing identity cards and passports, as well as for immigration and deportation controls, refugees, extradition, deportation, gambling controls, drugs, and supervision of private security forces.[6]

Franco's Armed and Traffic Police had once been dreaded as one of the most familiar symbols of the regime's oppressiveness. During the 1980s, however, the police effected an internal transformation, adopting wholeheartedly the new democratic spirit of the times. The police unwaveringly supported the legally constituted government during the 1981 coup attempt. Led by the new police trade union, the police demonstrated in 1985 against right-wing militants in their ranks and cooperated in efforts to punish misconduct and abuses of civil rights by individual officers. [7]


Duties are regulated by the Organic law 2/1986 of March 13, 1986.

  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

Access and training


  • Born or naturalized Spanish
  • Between 18 and 30 years old
  • At least 1.65 metres (5 ft 5 in) tall, for men, and 1.60 metres (5 ft 3 in) metres for women
  • Not to have been convicted of fraud or dismissed by the state, autonomous or local governments, or prevented from holding public functions.
  • Hold a driving licence of the class specified by the government.

Basic Scale:

  • Have or to be in conditions to obtain the Certificate in Secondary Education or equivalent level. (Baccalaureate will be necessary in some years).

Executive Scale:

  • Have a Technical Engineer, Technical Architect, Qualified University student or equivalent or top formation degree.

Competitive examination

The applicant can choose between a Basic Scale career or an Executive Scale career. Applicants must pass the following basic tests before starting the academy:

  • Physical test
  • Multiple-choice exam
  • Aptitude test
  • Volunteer language test (English or French)
  • Medical examination
  • Interview

Training academy

If the applicant has been chosen, they will receive professional training in Ávila's police academy for six months. Whilst trainees reside at the academy, they learn about Spanish law, receive firearms and self-defense training, conduct practical application exercises, learn the basics of the English language and undergo training in crime investigation. After that, the applicant will have the aula práctica, that mixes theoretical knowledge with practical situations for three months. Finally, the pupil will receive a policing practice, in which there will be various common situations that will form him as an agent.


Pay scale Superior Executive Deputy Inspector Basic
Comisario Principal Comisario Inspector Jefe Inspector Subinspector Oficial Agente
English equivalent Commissioner Superintendent Chief Inspector Inspector Deputy Inspector Sergeant Officer

Specialist units

There are numerous specialist units:

  • GEO (Grupo Especial de Operaciones) - Special operations tactical unit, equivalent to GSG-9 or FBI HRT.
  • GOES (Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad) - Equivalent to SWAT units.
  • SCDE-NRBQ (Servicio Central de Desactivación de Explosivos y Nuclear, Radiológico, Bacteriológico y Químico) - Explosive artifacts defuser and CRBN (Chemical, Radiological, Biological, and Nuclear) specialised team.
  • UIP (Unidad de Intervención Policial) - Anti-riot unit.
  • UDYCO (Unidad de Drogas Y Crimen Organizado) - Drugs and organised crime investigation squad.
  • UDEV (Unidad de Delincuencia Especializada y Violenta) - Investigation and pursuit several kinds of crimes related to artistic and cultural heritage, families.
  • BIT (Brigada de Investigación Tecnológica) - Computing crimes investigation.
  • UCDEF (Unidad Central de Delincuencia Económica y Fiscal) - Monetary crimes.
  • Guías Caninos - Canine unit. Drug, explosives and people detection.


An earlier uniform was brown, leading to the nickname la madera/los maderos ("the wood"/"the logs"). They are also called la pasma. Among supporters of the violent Basque terrorist organization ETA, Policía Nacional are colloquially referred to as txakurrak (Basque for "the dogs").


See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

External links

  • Spanish police forces forum The most complete forum about different Spanish police forces.
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