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Denmark

General Information

Admission to the OSCE: 25 June 1973

OSCE Chairmanship in 1997

Policing overview: There is one national police service covering Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. The Minister of Justice is the supreme police authority and he/she exercises his/her powers through the National Commissioner of the Danish Police, the Commissioner of the Copenhagen Police and the Chief Constables.


National Police

1. Functions and missions
2. Structure and organization
3. Staff data
4. Education / Training

1. Functions and missions
The functions and missions of the Danish police are set out in the Administration of Justice Act and in the Act on Police Activities as follows: “The purpose of the police is to maintain safety, security, peace and order in society. The police shall further this purpose by means of prevention, assistance and law enforcement.”

Against the background of this overall mission, the daily duties of the police are to: 

  • prevent criminal offences, breaches of the public peace and order and any danger to the safety of individuals and public security;
  • put an end to criminal activities and to investigate and prosecute criminal offences;
  • assist citizens in other dangerous situations;
  • carry out checks, controls and supervision in accordance with applicable laws;
  • assist other authorities in accordance with applicable laws; and to
  • perform other duties issuing from applicable laws or otherwise naturally associated with police activities.

2. Structure and organization
Until 1 January 2007 Denmark was divided into 54 police districts. Each district was headed by a Chief Constable and in the capital by the Copenhagen Commissioner. In addition, Greenland and the Faroe Islands constitute independent police districts. On 2 June 2006 the parliament passed a bill proposed by the Minister of Justice concerning a police reform. The police reform concerned a modernization of the structure of organization of the police and the way the police are managed. The police district structure is now fundamentally changed as the former 54 police districts are joined in 12 new police districts. Each district is now headed by a Commissioner.

The Police Commissioner is head of the police service of the district and, as such, is responsible for the police work there. He is assisted by a Deputy Police Commissioner and two chiefs of respectively the prosecution service and the police service, who enjoy the same status.

The police commissioners have the independent responsibility for the management and execution of police duties in the police districts and for the administration of the police district in relation to the budget, personnel, etc. The police commissioners are members of a joint management team with the National Commissioner of Police, who holds the overall professional, financial and administrative responsibility for the Danish police and is accountable to the Ministry of Justice.

Both the police commissioners and the National Commissioner of Police are employed for a term of years with the option of extension of their term of years. Service contracts are entered into with the police commissioners and the National Commissioner of Police with specific output targets.

Greenland and the Faroe Islands
Greenland is an independent police district. The Chief Constable is based in Nuuk. The Faroe Islands also constitute an independent police district. The Chief Constable, who is known as the “landsfoged”, is based in Tórshavn.

3. Staff data
Police personnel traditionally comprise attorneys (members of the legal profession), regular police officers, clerical staff and ancillary staff (maintenance, etc.). Over the last few years, people from other occupational groups have also been employed, including economists, IT-experts, psychologists, photographers, and communication advisers.

The Danish police service totals approximately 15.000 employees, which, in 2006, was divided approximately as follows: 640 attorneys, 9.500 police officers, 1.240 police officers on probation, 2.200 clerical staff and 1.400 civilian staff.

4. Education / Training
Anyone may apply to become a police officer. It is the National Commissioner’s Office that employs police officials in the Danish police force.
Applicants must meet the following requirements: 

  • have reached the age of 21;
  • be a Danish national/ have Danish citizenship and good Danish language skills
  • be in good health with normal hearing and not colour-blind
  • hold a valid driver's licence for a car.

In addition it is considered important that the applicant:

  • is not more than 29 years old
  • is reasonably tall, physically strong and physically suited to police work
  • has a normal sight no worse than 6/12 – 6/24
  • does not have a criminal record
  • has orderly personal and financial conditions
  • has good scolastic attainments and some knowledge of foreign languages.

Basic police training starts at the Police College with a course lasting approximately nine month. This is followed by an in-service training period of approximately 18 months in one of the police districts. The police officer then takes another approximately nine-month course, which is concluded by an examination. The final part of the basic training consists of service with the Tactical Support Unit of the Copenhagen Police.

After basic training, all police officers are offered a number of courses in subsequent years. These courses include compulsory further training and a number of special courses covering areas such as IT crime, the environment and international relations.

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National Commissioner's Office

The National Commissioner’s Office is responsible for the central management of administration of personnel and finances, vehicles and equipment, the Police College, computers and IT systems, and conditions respecting the residence of aliens in Denmark.

The organizational structure of the National Commissioner’s Office covers a number of coordinate departments including Police Department, Personnel and Recruitment, Budget and Accounts, Data Department, Aliens Department, Police College, the Danish Security Intelligence Service, Building Surveying Department, and Traffic Department.

The future reform of the justice system will also bring changes to the organisation of the police force. The number of police districts will be reduced from 54 to 12, to establish more solid and effective districts that are able to handle any given assignment. In connection with this, a great deal of the administrative assignment will be moved from the National Commissioner’s Office to the individual police districts, thereby creating a decentralization of the decision-making process”.

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Criminal Justice System

1. General information
2. Prosecution 

1. General information
The ordinary courts of law in Denmark are: The Supreme Court with 19 judges, two high courts with a total of 104 judges, and 24 district courts.

2. Prosecution
The Danish prosecution service comprises the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Regional Public Prosecutors and the police commissioners. The Minister of Justice is the chief authority of the prosecution service.

The police commissioners act as the prosecuting authority before the district courts.

Six Regional Public Prosecutors conduct criminal cases – appeal cases and jury cases – before the high courts and supervise the police commissioners’ handling of criminal cases. Furthermore, the Regional Public Prosecutors process complaints against decisions made by the police commissioners regarding prosecution. Finally, the Public Prosecutors deal with cases of compensation with regard to criminal prosecution, and complaints against the police.

The Public Prosecutor for Serious Economic Crime is – nationwide – responsible for prosecuting major financial crime.

The Chief Prosecutor for Serious International Crime is – nationwide – responsible for prosecuting international criminal cases committed abroad including cases concerning genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Director of Public Prosecution conducts criminal cases before the Supreme Court and, in addition, takes part in hearing cases put before the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The Director of Public Prosecutions is superior to the other prosecutors and supervises their work and the Director of Public Prosecutions process complaints of decisions made by the Public Prosecutors in the 1st instance. With the recent police reform the management powers of the Director of Public Prosecution was strengthened in relation to the administration of personnel, budgets and finances of the police districts and the superior prosecution service. The Director of Public Prosecution is now able to introduce modern target and performance management for the entire prosecution service”.

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Links

Ministry of Justice - Denmark  Ministry of Justice - Denmark http://www.justitsministeriet.dk/english/
Official website of the Ministry of Justice

National Police - Denmark  National Police - Denmark http://www.politi.dk/en/servicemenu/home/
Official website of the Danish National Police

OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - Denmark  OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - Denmark http://www.legislationline.org/topics/country/34/topic/12
Legislationline is a gratis internet-based legislative database published and maintained by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Last Updated: 16 May 2007

Also see: Sweden, Germany

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