2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Law

Police are agents or agencies empowered to use force and other forms of coercion and legal means to effect public and social order. The term is most commonly associated with police departments of a state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. The word comes from the Latin politia (“civil administration”), which itself derives from the Ancient Greek πόλις, for polis ("city"). The first police force comparable to the present-day police was established in 1667 under King Louis XIV in France, although modern police usually trace their origins to the 1800 establishment of the Marine Police in London, the Glasgow Police, and the Napoleonic police of Paris.

The first modern police force is also commonly said to be the London Metropolitan Police, established in 1829, which promoted the preventive role of police as a deterrent to urban crime and disorder. The notion that police are primarily concerned with enforcing criminal law was popularized in the 1930s with the rise of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the pre-eminent " law enforcement agency" in the United States; this however has only ever constituted a small portion of policing activity. Policing has included an array of activities in different contexts, but the predominant ones are concerned with order maintenance and the provision of services. Alternative names for police force include constabulary, gendarmerie, police department, police service, or law enforcement agency, and members can be police officers, constables, troopers, sheriffs, rangers, or peace officers.


Pre-modern Europe

In Ancient Greece, publicly-owned slaves were used by magistrates as police. In Athens, a group of 300 Scythian slaves was used to guard public meetings to keep order and for crowd control, and also assisted with dealing with criminals, manhandling prisoners, and making arrests. Other duties associated with modern policing, such as investigating crimes, was left to the citizens themselves. The Roman Empire had a reasonably effective law enforcement system until the decline of the empire, though there was never an actual police force in the city of Rome. When under the reign of Augustus the capital had grown to almost one million inhabitants, he created 14 wards, which were protected by seven squads of 1,000 men. If necessary, they might have called the Praetorian Guard for assistance. Beginning in the 5th century, policing became a function of clan chiefs and heads of state.

The Anglo-Saxon system of maintaining public order was a private system of tithings, since the Norman conquest lead by a constable, which was based on a social obligation for the good conduct of the others; more common was that local lords and nobles were responsible to maintain order in their lands, and often appointed a constable, sometimes unpaid, to enforce the law.

The invention of "police"

In Western culture, the contemporary concept of a police paid by the government was developed by French legal scholars and practitioners in the 17th century and early 18th century, notably with Nicolas Delamare's Traité de la Police ("Treatise of the Police", published between 1705 and 1738). The German Polizeiwissenschaft (Science of Police) was also an important theoretical formulation of police.

The first police force in the modern sense was created by the government of King Louis XIV in 1667 to police the city of Paris, then the largest city of Europe and considered the most dangerous European city. The royal edict, registered by the Parlement of Paris on March 15, 1667 created the office of lieutenant général de police ("lieutenant general of police"), who was to be the head of the new Paris police force, and defined police as the task of "ensuring the peace and quiet of the public and of private individuals, purging the city of what may cause disturbances, procuring abundance, and having each and everyone live according to their station and their duties". This office was held by Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, who had 44 commissaires de police (police commissioners) under his authority. In 1709, these commissioners were assisted by inspecteurs de police (police inspectors). The city of Paris was divided into 16 districts policed by the 44 commissaires de police, each assigned to a particular district and assisted in their districts by clerks and a growing bureaucracy. The scheme of the Paris police force was extended to the rest of France by a royal edict of October 1699, resulting in the creation of lieutenants general of police in all large French cities or towns.

However, this early conceptualization of police was quite different from today's police forces, exclusively in charge of maintaining order and arresting criminals. As conceptualized by the Polizeiwissenschaft, the police had an economical and social duty ("procuring abundance"). It was in charge of demographics concerns and of empowering the population, which was considered by the mercantilist theory to be the main strength of the state. Thus, its functions largely overreached simple law enforcement activities, and included public health concerns, urban planning (which was important because of the miasma theory of disease; thus, cemeteries were moved out of town, etc.), surveillance of prices, etc .

Development of modern police was contemporary to the formation of the state, later defined by sociologist Max Weber as detaining "the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force," primarily exerced by the police and the military. Despite its differences, this definition was not completely alien to the Marxist definition of the state as a "repressive apparatus" guarding the bourgeoisie's interests.

Modern police

After the troubles of the French Revolution the Paris police force was reorganized by Napoléon I on February 17, 1800 as the Prefecture of Police, along with the reorganization of police forces in all French cities with more than 5,000 inhabitants. On March 12, 1829, a government decree created the first uniformed policemen in Paris and all French cities, known as sergents de ville ("city sergeants"), which the Paris Prefecture of Police's website claims were the first uniformed policemen in the world.

In the United Kingdom, the development of police forces was much slower than in the rest of Europe. The word "police" was borrowed from French into the English language in the 18th century, but for a long time it applied only to French and continental European police forces. The word, and the concept of police itself, was "disliked as a symbol of foreign oppression" (according to Britannica 1911). Prior to the 19th century, the only official use of the word "police" recorded in the United Kingdom was the appointment of Commissioners of Police for Scotland in 1714 and the creation of the Marine Police in 1798 (set up to protect merchandise at the Port of London).

On June 30, 1800, the authorities of Glasgow, Scotland successfully petitioned the Government to pass the Glasgow Police Act establishing the City of Glasgow Police. This was the first professional police service in the country that differed from previous law enforcement in that it was a preventive police force. This was quickly followed in other Scottish towns, which set up their own police forces by individual Acts of Parliament . In London, there existed watchmen hired to guard the streets at night since 1663, the first paid law enforcement body in the country, augmenting the force of unpaid constables. On September 29, 1829, the Metropolitan Police Act was passed by Parliament, allowing Sir Robert Peel, the then home secretary, to found the London Metropolitan Police. This group of Police are often referred to as ´Bobbies´ due to the fact that it was Sir Robert (Bobby) Peel who authorized it. They were regarded as the most efficient forerunners of a modern Police force and became a model for the police forces in most countries, such as the United States, and most of the then British Empire (Commonwealth) Bobbies can still be found in many parts of the world. (Normally British Overseas Territories or ex-colonies, Bermuda, Gibraltar or St Helena for example). The model of policing in Britain had as its primary role the keeping of the Queen's Peace and this has continued to the present day. Many of the Commonwealth Countries developed Police Forces using similar models such as Australia and New Zealand.

In Northern America, the Toronto Police was founded in Canada in 1834, one of the first municipal police departments on that continent, followed by police forces in Montreal and Quebec City both founded in 1838. In the United States, the first organized police service was established in Boston in 1838, New York in 1844, and Philadelphia in 1854.

Police armament and equipment

Many law enforcement agencies have heavily armed units for dealing with dangerous situations, such as these U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
Many law enforcement agencies have heavily armed units for dealing with dangerous situations, such as these U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

In many jurisdictions, police officers carry firearms, primarily handguns, in the normal course of their duties.

Police often have specialist units for handling armed offenders, and similar dangerous situations, and can (depending on local laws), in some extreme circumstances, call on the military (since Military Aid to the Civil Power is a role of many armed forces). Perhaps the most high-profile example of this was when, in 1980 the Metropolitan Police handed control of the Iranian Embassy Siege to the Special Air Service. They can also be equipped with non-lethal (more accurately known as "less than lethal" or "less-lethal") weaponry, particularly for riot control. Non-lethal weapons include batons, riot control agents, rubber bullets and electroshock weapons. The use of firearms or deadly force is typically a last resort only to be used when necessary to save human life, although some jurisdictions allow its use against fleeing felons and escaped convicts. Police officers often carry handcuffs to restrain suspects.

Modern police forces make extensive use of radio communications equipment, carried both on the person and installed in vehicles, to co-ordinate their work, share information, and get help quickly. In recent years, vehicle-installed computers have enhanced the ability of police communications, enabling easier dispatching of calls, criminal background checks on persons of interest to be completed in a matter of seconds, and updating the officer's daily activity log and other required reports on a real-time basis. Other common pieces of police equipment include flashlights, whistles, and, most importantly, notebooks and "ticketbooks" or citations. In the Department of corrections they do not have SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams, they have CIRT teams. CIRT stands for Critical Incident Response Team. CIRT responds to to most violent crimes in the most dangerous of prisons.

Restrictions upon the power of the police

Polish Prevention Detachment
Polish Prevention Detachment
Polish mounted policeman, Poznań
Polish mounted policeman, Poznań
Polish Bus police
Polish Bus police
Polish policeman from Prevention Detachment
Polish policeman from Prevention Detachment

In order for police officers to do their job, they may be vested by the state with a monopoly in the use of certain powers. These include the powers to arrest, search, seize, and interrogate; and if necessary, to use lethal force. In nations with democratic systems and the rule of law, the law of criminal procedure has been developed to regulate officers' discretion, so that they do not exercise their vast powers arbitrarily or unjustly.

In U.S. criminal procedure the most famous case is Miranda v. Arizona which led to the widespread use of Miranda warnings or constitutional warnings. U.S. police are also prohibited from holding criminal suspects for more than a reasonable amount of time (usually 72 hours) before arraignment, using torture to extract confessions, using excessive force to effect an arrest, and searching suspects' bodies or their homes without a warrant obtained upon a showing of probable cause. Using deception for confessions is permitted, but not coercion. There are exceptions or exigent circumstances such as an articulated need to disarm a suspect or searching a suspect who has already been arrested (Search Incident to an Arrest). The Posse Comitatus Act severely restricts the use of the U.S. military for police activity, giving added importance to police SWAT units.

British police officers are governed by similar rules, particularly those introduced under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, but generally have greater powers. They may, for example, legally search any suspect who has been arrested, or their vehicles, home or business premises, without a warrant, and may seize anything they find in a search as evidence. All police officers in the United Kingdom, whatever their actual rank, are 'constables' in terms of their legal position. This means that a newly appointed constable has the same arrest powers as a Chief Constable or Commissioner. However, certain higher ranks have additional powers to authorize certain aspects of police operations, such as a power to authorize a search of a suspect's house (section 18 PACE) by an officer of the rank of Inspector, or the power to authorize a suspect's detention beyond 24 hours by a Superintendent.

Difficult issues

Police organizations must sometimes deal with the issue of police corruption, which is often abetted by a code of silence that encourages unquestioning loyalty to one's comrades over the cause of justice. In the comparatively rare event that an officer breaks this code on a significant scale, they may receive death threats or even be left for dead, as in the case of Frank Serpico. One way to fight such corruption is by having an independent or semi-independent organization investigate, such as (in the United States) the Federal Justice Department, state Attorneys General, local District Attorneys, a police department's own internal affairs division, or specially appointed commissions. However, independent organizations are generally not called except for the most severe cases of corruption.

Some believe that police forces have traditionally been responsible for enforcing many bigoted perspectives which have been prevalent at various periods throughout history. Ageism against teens, homophobia, racism, and sexism are views which police have been charged with having held and enforced.

Some police organizations are faced with routine accusations of racial profiling. Police forces also find themselves under criticism for their use of force, particularly deadly force, when a police officer of one race kills a suspect of another race. In the United States, such events routinely spark protests and accusations of racism against police.

In the United States since the 1960s, concern over such issues has increasingly weighed upon law enforcement agencies, courts and legislatures at every level of government. Incidents such as the 1965 Watts Riots, the videotaped 1991 beating by Los Angeles Police officers of Rodney King, and the riot following their accquital has depicted American police as dangerously lacking in appropriate controls. The fact that this trend has occurred contemporaneously with the rise of the US civil rights movement, the War on Drugs and a precipitous rise in violent crime from the 1960s to the 1990s has made questions surrounding the role, administration and scope of authority of police specifically and the criminal justice system as a whole increasingly complicated. Police departments and the local governments that oversee them in some jurisdictions have attempted to mitigate some of these issues through community outreach programs and community policing to make the police more accessible to the concerns of local communities; by working to increase hiring diversity; by updating training of police in their responsibilities to the community and under the law; and by increased oversight within the department or by civilian commissions. In cases in which such measures have been lacking or absent, local departments have been compelled by legal action initiated by the US Department of Justice under the 14th Amendment to enter into consent decree settlements to adopt such measures and submit to oversight by the Justice Department.

Finally, in many places, the social status and pay of police can lead to major problems with recruitment and morale. Jurisdictions lacking the resources or the desire to pay police appropriately, lacking a tradition of professional and ethical law enforcement, or lacking adequate oversight of the police often face a dearth of quality recruits, a lack of professionalism and commitment among their police, and broad mistrust of the police among the public. These situations often strongly contribute to police corruption and brutality. This is particularly a problem in countries undergoing social and political development; countries that lack rule of law or civil service traditions; or countries in transition from authoritarian or Communist governments in which the prior regime's police were little more than praetorians.

Some cities employ quotas of how many traffic tickets a police officer should write, although the practice is illegal in others. Furthermore, other cities deny that there are quotas, but many police officers have come forward stating that they are pressured to write traffic tickets, since they usually produce revenue for the local government issuing the tickets. Some cities make millions of dollars annually on traffic tickets, which helps fund local government. Many rural jurisdictions (towns) generate 90% of their revenue from traffic tickets. A few cities have actually admitted there are quotas. This can be an issue with the general populace as well as an issue within the police department. In some cities, police complain about being turned into tax collectors by the politicians preventing them from doing their real job, which they consider to be fighting crime and keeping the peace.

Police organization

In most Western police forces, perhaps the most significant division is between preventive ("uniformed") police and detectives. Terminology varies from country to country.

Patrol officers

Preventive Police, also called Uniform Branch, Uniformed Police, Administrative Police, Order Police, or Patrol, designates the police which patrol and respond to emergencies and other incidents, as opposed to detective services. As the name "uniformed" suggests, they wear uniforms and perform functions that require an immediate recognition of an officer's legal authority, such as traffic control, stopping and detaining motorists, and more active crime response and prevention. Preventive police almost always make up the bulk of a police service's personnel. Unusually, in Brazil, preventive police are known as Military Police.

Detective police

Detective Police, also called CID, Investigations Police, Judiciary Police / Judicial Police, or Criminal Police, are responsible for investigations and detective work. They typically make up roughly 15% - 25% of a police service's personnel.

Detectives services often contain subgroups whose job it is to investigate particular types of crime.

Detectives, by contrast to uniform police, typically wear 'business attire' in bureaucratic and investigative functions where a uniformed presence would be either a distraction or intimidating, but a need to establish police authority still exists. "Plainclothes" officers dress in attire consistent with that worn by the general public for purposes of blending in. In some cases, police are assigned to work "undercover", where they conceal their police identity, sometimes for long periods, to investigate crimes, such as organized crime, unsolvable by other means. In some cases this type of policing shares some aspects with espionage.

Despite popular conceptions promoted by movies and television, many US police departments prefer not to maintain officers in non-patrol bureaus and divisions beyond a certain period of time, such as in the detective bureau, and instead maintain policies that limit service in such divisions to a specified period of time, after which officers must transfer out or return to patrol duties. This is done in part based upon the perception that the most important and essential police work is accomplished on patrol in which officers become acquainted with their beats, prevent crime by their presence, respond to crimes in progress, manage crises, and practice their skills. Detectives, by contrast, usually investigate crimes after they have occurred and after patrol officers have responded first to a situation. Investigations often take weeks or months to complete, during which time detectives spend much of their time away from the streets, in interviews and courtrooms, for example. Rotating officers also promotes cross-training in a wider variety of skills, and serves to prevent "cliques" that can contribute to corruption or other unethical behaviour.

Specialized units

Specialized preventive and detective groups exist within many law enforcement organizations either for dealing with particular types of crime, such as traffic law enforcement and crash investigation, homicide, or fraud; or for situations requiring specialized skills, such as underwater search, aviation, explosive device disposal (" bomb squad"), and computer crime. Most larger jurisdictions also employ specially-selected and trained quasi-military units armed with military-grade weapons for the purposes of dealing with particularly violent situations beyond the capability of a patrol officer response, including high-risk warrant service and barricaded suspects. In the United States these units go by a variety of names, but are commonly known as SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) teams. Because their situational mandate typically focuses on removing innocent bystanders from dangerous people and dangerous situations, not violent resolution, they are often equipped with non-lethal tactical tools like chemical agents, " flashbang" and concussion grenades, and rubber bullets.

Investigating crimes committed by the police

Police services commonly include units for investigating crimes committed by the police themselves. These units are typically called Inspectorate-General, or in the USA, " internal affairs". In some countries separate organizations outside the police exist for such purposes, such as the British Police Complaints Authority (now Independent Police Complaints Commission). Likewise, some state and local jurisdictions, for example, Springfield, Illinois have similar outside review organizations.

Military police

There are two types of military police service:

  • Gendarmeries are military police services that work in civilian populations.
  • Provost services are military police services that work within the armed forces.

Police vehicles

Anti-riot armoured vehicle of the police of the Canton of Vaud in Lausanne, Switzerland
Anti-riot armoured vehicle of the police of the Canton of Vaud in Lausanne, Switzerland

Police vehicles are used for detaining, patrolling and transporting. The common Police patrol vehicle is an improved four door sedan (saloon in British English). Police vehicles are usually marked with appropriate logos and are equipped with sirens and lightbars to aid in making others aware of police presence. Unmarked vehicles are used primarily for sting operations or apprehending criminals without alerting them to their presence. Some cities and counties have started using unmarked cars, or cars with minimal markings for traffic law enforcement, since drivers slow down at the sight of marked police vehicles and unmarked vehicles make it easier for officers to catch speeders and traffic violators.

Motorcycles are also commonly used, particularly in locations that a car may not be able to access, to control potential public order situations involving meetings of motorcyclists and often in escort duties where the motorcycle policeman can quickly clear a path for the escorted vehicle.

Police around the world

In many countries, particularly those with a federal system of government, there may be several police or police-like organisations, each serving different levels of government and enforcing different subsets of the applicable law.


The majority of policing work is carried out by the police forces of the six states that make up the Australian federation. The Australian Federal Police are responsible for policing duties in the Australian Capital Territory, and investigating crimes relating to federal criminal law (particularly crimes with an international dimension) nationwide.


The majority of policing work is carried out by the local police forces. The Federal Police are responsible for policing and investigating crimes relating to federal criminal law (particularly crimes with an international dimension) nationwide.


In Brazil there are six types of police forces: the Brazilian Federal Police, the Brazilian Federal Highway Police, the Brazilian Federal Railway Police, the states military polices and states civilian polices. More than 400 cities have City Guards.




In Canada, all criminal law (including the Criminal Code of Canada) falls under federal jurisdiction, but policing is a provincial responsibility. However, there is a national police force known as the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), which is tasked with enforcing certain federal laws throughout the country. Additionally, eight of the ten provinces choose to employ the RCMP under contract as their provincial police force rather than establishing their own police services; the exceptions are Ontario, Quebec. Newfoundland has retained the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for limited use, but still uses the RCMP for the majority of its provincial policing. In most provinces individual towns and cities are allowed, or required, by law to set up their own local police forces to provide policing inside their communities. Those municipalities (approx. 300 in total) who do not have their own police forces instead will contract either the RCMP (with the federal government absorbing some of the cost) or their provincial force to police the community.


In China, civilian police is mainly done by the People's Police, although the paramilitary police, the People's Armed Police, is still prominent. The People's Police is under the administration is Ministry of Public Security, and the People's Armed Police is under the administration of China's People's Liberation Army.


A Finnish police van.
A Finnish police van.

Finland has a single national police force, working under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior and the interior minister of the government. It is organized into local police and national units. The 90 police departments of the local police are responsible for the usual uniformed police functions and minor criminal investigations. Local state districts are also police districts, and are under the jurisdiction of their provinces. The national police units include the

  • National Bureau of Investigation, which is responsible for major criminal investigations. (Finnish: KRP, keskusrikospoliisi / Swedish: CKP Centralkriminalpolisen)
  • National Traffic Police, a highway patrol organization responsible for traffic safety, doubling as a national police reserve. (Finnish: Liikkuva poliisi / Swedish: Rörliga polisen, literally: Mobile police)
  • Security Police, responsible for the national security and the investigation of related crimes. (Finnish: Suojelupoliisi, a.k.a. Supo / Swedish: Skyddspolisen, literally: Protection Police)

In addition, the Police operate a technical support center, an IT centre, a Police School, and a Police College.

The characteristic colors are silver on deep blue; only these colors are used in the uniform. Police cars are blue and white, and have only blue flashing lights. The insignia features a sword with a lion's head as its handle.

There are three organizations having limited law enforcement powers, in additions to the Police. The Finnish Border Guard(Rajavartiosto) and Customs (Tulli) have wide enforcement powers in matters pertaining to their jurisdictions. The Border Guard can be seen patrolling urban areas in green vehicles with blue lights and Customs travel in blue vehicles with blue lights. Both organisations' officers are armed with the same equipment as the regular police. Conductors on trains and ticket inspectors also have limited police powers. In addition, the Finnish Defence Forces investigate most military-related crimes of military personnel and military unit commanders have limited police powers within their respective units. The military police guard military bases and installations as well as having the power to interfere in a crime that they can see is happening in a civilian area. In addition, the General Staff of the Finnish Defence Forces includes an investigative section responsible for crime investigation and counter-intelligence.



Public order duty in Dresden.

Germany is a federal republic of sixteen states. Each of those states has its own police force (Landespolizei). Each is supervised by the Minister (or, in Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin, the Senator) of Internal Affairs of the state.

In addition, the federal government has two police agencies, called the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Investigation Bureau or BKA) and Bundespolizei (Federal Police or BPOL). Until 2005, the BPOL was called Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Border Protection), but after expanded competence in the 1990s and the abolition of border controls in the European Union, its name was changed.


The Greek Police Force ( Greek: αστυνομία; IPA: [aˈsti.no.mia]) is the police force of the Hellenic Republic. Tourism Police are an integral part of the Hellenic Police (ELAS), consisting of men and women especially trained and competent to offer tourists information and help, whenever they have any problems. They are trained in resolving minor differences between tourists and commercial enterprises. They all speak foreign languages, including English. They are distinguished by a shoulder badge displaying Tourism Police on their uniforms.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Police Force (Chinese: 香港警察; pinyin: Xiānggǎng Jǐngchá ) is the police force of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.


The Icelandic National Police (Lögreglan and Ríkislögreglan) is Iceland's police force which is under the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical affairs. The National Commissioner is the overall commander, but he answers to the minister. The police is divided into districts. Iceland also has a Customs police force (Tollgæslan) which is under the Minstry of Finance. Icelandic policemen generally do not carry firearms, instead they carry telescopic batons and pepper spray. The National Commissioner has a Special operations unit which is called Víkingasveitin.


The Indian Police is a state-operated police force.

International Police

The International Police is a functional organization made up of police officers from all over the world, serving mostly under the direction of the United Nations, to help train, recruit, and field police forces in war torn countries. The force is usually deployed into a war torn country initially acting as the police, and bringing order. In the process, they recruit and train a local police force, which eventually takes on the responsibilities of enforcing the law and maintaining order, whereas the International Police then take on a supporting role. To date, International Police forces have been deployed to East Timor, Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Liberia, Croatia, and Macedonia, among others.

Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has an unarmed police agency, the Garda Síochána. Most members are trained in the use of firearms but remain unarmed on patrol; the exceptions are detectives and special unit operatives, who are armed. This was a result of the founding of the Gardai after the Irish Civil War (1921-23) when it was seen as a necessary step to gain public confidence for the new state and its police force. Gardaí usually patrol in patrol cars or on foot in urban areas, though some use horses or bicycles to assist them in their work.

They have a police helicopter and a fixed wing aeroplane to assist in high speed chases. There are 12,000+ Members of the Garda Síochána, possibly the highest per-capita police force in the EU.


The Israeli Police (Mishteret Yisra'el) is a state-operated police force. It is currently headed by the commissioner Moshe Karadi. The Israeli Police has a military corps called the Border Guard (MAGAV), which has its own elite counter-terrorist units.


Italian public security is provided by three separate police forces: Arma dei Carabinieri ( paramilitary police), Guardia di Finanza (customs police, border and financial police, also organized as a military force), Polizia di Stato (state police). In recent years Carabinieri units have been dispatched all over the world in peacekeeping missions, including Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Guardia di Finanza is a Special Italian Police force at the service of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance. The Guardia di Finanza is a Military Corps and is an integral part of the Italian Armed Forces as well as of the law enforcement agencies. Its duties primarily involve investigating money-related crimes, such as tax evasion, financial crimes, customs and border checks, money laundering, smuggling, international drugs trafficking, illegal immigration, Terrorist Financing, credit cards frauds, money counterfeiting, copyright violations, cybercrime, maintaining public order and safety, political and military defense of the Italian borders. The Guardia di Finanza has a great Naval Fleet for the overseeing of the sea border, and a great air force.

The Polizia di Stato (State Police) is the National Police of Italy. Among with common patrolling, investigative and law enforcement duties, it is responsible for patrolling the Autostrada (Italy's Express Highway network), and overseeing the security of railways, bridges and waterways.


The Grand Ducal Police (French: Police Grand-Ducale) is the primary law enforcement agency in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The police is under the control of the Luxembourgian Minister for Justice, although they operate in the name, and under the ultimate control, of the Grand Duke. The Grand Ducal Police has existed in its current form since 1 January 2000, when the gendarmerie was merged with the police. The Grand Ducal Police is responsible for ensuring Luxembourg's internal security, maintaining law and order, and enforcing all laws and Grand Ducal decrees. It is also responsible for assisting the military in its internal operations, as prescribed by the Grand Duke.


Toyota Crown police car in Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Toyota Crown police car in Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Fig.1. Police officer hung up with his belt at a sharp edge of a rock in vicinity of the Tenno beach, Japan.
Fig.1. Police officer hung up with his belt at a sharp edge of a rock in vicinity of the Tenno beach, Japan.

Police in Japan are an apolitical body under the general supervision of an independent agency, the National Police Agency, and free of direct central government executive control. They are checked by an independent judiciary and monitored by a free and active press. The police are generally well respected and can rely on considerable public cooperation in their work.

Police also protects the residence of the Emperor family (tenno), Fig.1.


The Royal Malaysian Police or Polis Diraja Malaysia in Malay is a main branch of security forces in Malaysia. The force is a centralized organization that has a gamut of roles that ranges from traffic control to intelligence. Its headquarters is located in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.


The Mexican Police system is:

  • Agencia Federal de Investigaciones ( Federal Investigations Agency) - Mexican FBI
  • Policia Federal Preventiva ( Federal Preventive Police)
  • Policia Estatal Preventiva ( State Preventive Police)
  • Policia Municipal Preventiva ( Municipal Preventive Police)


The Moroccan police is called Sûreté Nationale. It is tasked with upholding the law and public order. It works alongside the Gendarmerie Royale.


The Dutch police is a government agency charged with upholding the law and public order and providing aid. It is also the investigation service for the Attorney General of the Judiciary.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Police are charged with enforcing law in New Zealand. They are a single national police force with a broad policing role (community safety, law enforcement & road safety). The New Zealand Police is an unarmed police, although access to firearms is available when circumstances dictate. New Zealand Police works with other government agencies and non-government groups to achieve the best safety outcomes for all New Zealanders.


The Norwegian Police force ( Norwegian: Politiet) is a national police force under the department of justice and police. The police force is divided into 27 regional police departments, and seven national special departments. All the departments contains about 11.000 employees, with Oslo police precinct as the biggest with 2300 employees.

The Norwegian police usually does not carry guns, as one of the few in the world. They are instead armed with a telescopic baton and a can of pepper spray


The police in Pakistan is under the control of each province. Only Capital city police is an exception which is under federal Government control with its own setup. A separate police force is for managing traffic called traffic police.


The national police force in Perú is called Policía Nacional del Perú or PNP ( official site, in Spanish). They are the state police force but they serve many of the same role in the cities that local police forces assume in other countries, such as traffic control at intersections. Peruvian cities (or Lima-area districts) each have their own "Serenazgo" forces, which perform patrol duties like a neighbourhood watch and call upon the PNP as needed. There is more information for tourists on how to deal with the Peruvian police forces if necessary in the wikitravel page on Perú.


The police force in the Philippines is called Philippine National Police (Pulisya, Pambansang Pulisya ng Pilipinas in [Tagalog].) It is under the authority of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and while supposedly civilian in character, most of its high ranking officers are graduates of the Philippine Military Academy and are former soldiers. They are often seen in the scene of the crime even before people call for help, and are also majorly involved in organized crime such as drug trafficking and black market activities. Most of the higher officials are paid millions to provide alliance with corrupt government officials who earn their positions based not on election but on power and stolen money.




The police in Russia are called милиция ( militsiya). This change of name started at the Russian Revolution via a Communist political idea of "replacing the capitalist police by a people's militia"; but the name "militsiya" has persisted after the Communist system collapsed. One reason may be to avoid confusion with the astonishing number and variety of words which start with pol- in Russian and related languages.

The standard Russian police baton is made of rubber. In some areas however wooden batons are used because the winter cold makes rubber brittle. The normal service uniform is grey with red piping and hat band. Fur hats and heavy greatcoats are worn in winter.


Police National Service officers help boost manpower requirements in the Singapore Police Force
Police National Service officers help boost manpower requirements in the Singapore Police Force

The Singapore Police Force (Abbreviation: SPF) is the main agency tasked with maintaining law and order in the city-state. Formerly known as the Republic of Singapore Police.

Sri Lanka

The national police service in Sri Lanka is Sri Lanka Police. The elite counter Police Counter-Terrorist force the Special Task Force has taken security duties around the island.


The police in Sweden (in Swedish: Polisen) is a national police force under the Department of Justice. It is divided into the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) and 21 regional police departments corresponding to the Counties of Sweden. The National Police Board is divided into the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen) and SÄPO, or Säkerhetspolisen, the Swedish Security Service. There is also a the national response and counter-terrorism team called "National task force" or Nationella insatsstyrkan.

The police officers are usually armed with the SIG P226 9 mm pistol, a telescopic baton and a can of pepper spray.


The Thai police are subdivided into several regions and services, each enjoying their own powers.

  • Crime Suppression Division, Thai FBI
  • Immigration
  • Traffic police


The Turkish Police (Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü) provides law enforcement and security matters mostly in cities and metros.


The police force in Vietnam is called the People's Police. It answers to the Ministry of Public Security.

United Kingdom

Mounted UK police officer.
Mounted UK police officer.

There are over 52 police forces in the United Kingdom, of varying sizes and responsibilities. UK police were once known as 'Peelers' (and more commonly as 'Bobbies') after Sir Robert Peel, who created the London Metropolitan Police force in 1829.

Most British police forces come under the administration of the Home Office, but others do not; Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate forces to the combined England & Wales network.

There are also non-geographic police forces: The non-Home Office British Transport Police, MOD Police, and special police forces for guarding nuclear power stations and police forces for the Ports of Liverpool and Dover. With the exception of some of the special forces, the majority of British police are never routinely armed, relying on a extendable baton instead and special armed units are called in only when necessary.

Recently the UK amalgamated several agencies to from SOCA comparable in some ways to the American FBI; though other functions being perfomed by MI5.

Uniquely in Britain, there are police forces of Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man, Falkland Islands, and States of Jersey & Guernsey, who have police forces that share resources with the UK police, whilst having a separate administration within their own governments.

United States

Prisoner transport by the United States Marshals Service.
Prisoner transport by the United States Marshals Service.

In the United States, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and other federal agencies such as the United States Secret Service and the US Marshals are limited to the enforcement of federal laws and usually specialize in certain crimes or duties. Most crimes constitutionally fall under the jurisdiction of state police or the thousands of local police forces. These include county police or sheriff's departments as well as municipal or city police forces. Many areas also have special agencies such as campus police, railroad police, housing police, or a district or precinct constable.


Most countries are members of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), established to detect and fight trans-national crime and provide for international co-operation and co-ordination of other police activities, such as notifying relatives of the death of foreign nationals. Interpol does not conduct investigations nor arrests by itself, but only serves as a central point for information on crime, suspects and criminals. Political crimes are excluded from its competencies.

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