This country profile was migrated from the legacy system and the new text is under consideration of the respective government authorities.

Policing overview: Portugal has three national police organizations, one border and immigration control service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) and a coast guard (Polícia Marítima). The Attorney General (Procurador-Geral da República) assures legal supervision and a coordination council (Conselho Coordenador) oversees operational coordination. As far as National Police Organizations are concerned, Portugal has the Judicial Police (Polícia Judiciária, PJ) which investigates violent crime, organized and financial crime. The Public Security Police (Polícia de Segurança Pública PSP) assures public order and investigates non-organized crimes, and violent crimes in urban areas. The National Republican Guard (Guarda Nacional Republicana, GNR) assures public order and investigates non-organized crimes, and violent crimes (known or unarmed offenders) in non-urban areas. The Ministry of Justice appoints the Polícia Judiciária National Director and the Ministry of Internal Affairs appoints the PSP, GNR and SEF National Directors.

Public Security Police

1. General information
The Public Security Police (PSP) is a security service with administrative autonomy that defends democratic principles and the legitimacy of the Government, and guarantees domestic security and citizens’ rights in the context of the Portuguese Constitution and the laws.  

2. Functions and missions 
The PSP is responsible for the maintenance of public order, direction of traffic and criminal investigations. It operates principally in urban areas (i.e. towns with a population of over 10,000) and is under the authority of Ministry of Internal Administration. Under normal circumstances, its activities aim at ensuring domestic security. In exceptional circumstances or in times of emergency, it contributes to state defence. Its responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the security conditions that allow the exercise of rights and freedoms of citizens, as well as protecting fully functioning democratic institutions, respect for legality and the rule of law;
  • Ensuring order and public peace and safety and security for persons and property
  • Preventing crime in general, in coordination with other forces and security services, preventing the perpetration of any other acts contrary to the law
  • Developing research and criminal code infractions that are conferred by statute, delegated by the authorities or requested by the administrative authorities
  • Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations on road transport and ensuring road safety
  • Protecting and assisting citizens and preserving assets that are in danger, for reasons arising from human activities or natural disaster
  • Protection of sensitive points, including road infrastructure, railways, airports and seaports, public buildings and other critical facilities;

3. Structure and organization 
The PSP Headquarters is located in Lisbon and under the control of a commander. Central sections include those for administration, communication, identification, immigration, information, public security and traffic. Operationally, the country is divided into 18 districts within which there are divisions in each major town and sections or squads in smaller towns. 

The PSP comprises:

  • the National Directorate (Direcção Nacional); 

  • three special intervention units (Grupos de Intervencao) charged with public order (Corpo de Intervenção), anti-terrorism and special operations (Grupo de Operações Especiais) and bodyguarding functions (Corpo de Segurança Pessoal);

  • a Command Unit (Comandos Metropolitanos, Regionais e de Polícia);

  • an Institute of Political Science and Internal Security (Instituto Superior de Ciências Policiais e Segurança Interna); and

  • the Police School (Escola Prática de Polícia).

4. Staff data
The Portuguese police staff totals about 50,000 persons, or one police officer for every 215 inhabitants. Co-ordination is the responsibility of a board under direct jurisdiction of the Prime Minister. This responsibility may be delegated to the Ministry of Internal Administration, the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Defence.

5. Education / Training
In order to meet the training needs, the PSP has four training/teaching areas — initial training/teaching courses to assist beginning a police career; promotion courses for progression in a police career; Specialization courses which facilitate students in accessing special units/services; Continuous training course to update and improve officers' skills. Two teaching establishments provide the first two courses: the ISCPSI – Instituto Superior de Ciências Policiais e Segurança Interna (Superior Institute of Police Sciences and Internal Security), and the EPP - Escola Prática de Polícia (the Police Training School).The Institute of Political Science and Internal Security, the Portuguese police university or PSP Police Academy, is located in Lisbon. 

For detailed information, please visit the official website via the Links section below. 

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National Republican Guards

1. Guarda Nacional Republicana
2. History
3. Dependency
4. Functions and Missions
5. Structure and organization
6. Staff data
7. Education/Training
8. Peacekeeping and International Missions

1. Guarda Nacional Republicana

The Guarda Nacional Republicana, whose origins date back to 1801, at which time the Guarda Real de Polícia (Royal Police Guard) was created, is a Security Force constituted by military elements that are organized in a Special Body of Troops, which actively and permanently veil for the execution of the law and are dedicated to the security and public order maintenance cause as well as to the protection and defence of the people and their goods. The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, the National Defence and Armed Forces Law, the Internal Security Law and the Law on the General Basis of the Military Condition constitute the institutional juridical framework on which the legislation of the present Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR) is based.

2. History

The Guarda Nacional Republicana is heir to the traditions of the Quadrilheiros (elements armed with rods or spears), of the Guarda Real da Polícia (Royal Police Guard) and of the Guarda Republicana (Republican Guard). Its fundamental standards are based on its own particular Organic Law (Law number 63 dated 06 November 2007) and on the Statutes of the Military Elements (Officers, Sergeants and Guards) of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (Decree-Law 265 dated 31 July 1993) which are currently being revised and of the General Service Regulation of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (Decree number 7221 of 1985).

3. Dependency

It has a double dependency, depending in time of peace, on the Minister of Internal Administration, for purposes of recruitment, administration, discipline and execution of the current service of its general mission and on the Minister of National Defence for purposes of uniformization and normalization of the military doctrine, armament and equipment. Its force may, in case of war or in situations of crisis, be placed under the operational dependency of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, through its General Commander.

4. Functions and Missions

The logo it displays – For the Law and For the People – perfectly reflects the ethical basis of all its activities, which are always founded on the legitimacy that emanates from the democratically established laws.

Due to its nature and polyvalence, the GNR, as a Gendarmerie type of force, is institutionally positioned amongst the military forces and the security forces and services.

It carries out missions throughout all of the national territory, in the territorial sea and also at an international level.

Every element of the Guarda Nacional Republicana, in the performance of his or her duties, is an officer of the Public Force and an Authority officer, thus any resistance or disobedience to his or her legitimate orders constitutes disobedience of authority, which is grievously punishable by penal law.

The accelerated social-political evolution of the country and the quantitative and qualitative increase in criminality imposes on this Special Body of Troops and on all of its personnel a continuous effort towards the valorisation, actualization and revision of the manners of performance. The exact fulfilment of the difficult mission attributed to the Guarda Nacional Republicana, which the country expects and demands that it performs in an exemplary manner, is the imperative condition that orients all of its elements.

The Guarda Nacional Republicana has as a general mission:

  • To guarantee, in the ambit of its responsibility, the maintenance of the public order, assuring the exercise of rights, liberties and warranties;
  • To maintain and re-establish the security of the citizens and of the public, private and
  • co-operative property, preventing or repressing illegal acts committed against them;
  • To assist the judicial authorities, performing functions conferred to them as an organ of the criminal police;
  • To veil for the execution of the laws and dispositions in general, namely those related to
  • the terrestrial traffic and highway transportations;
  • To combat the fiscal infringements, namely those foreseen in the customs law;
  • To collaborate in the control of all entries and exists pertaining to national and foreign citizens and goods into and out of the national territory;
  • To aid and protect the citizens as well as defend and preserve the goods which are
  • found to be in a dangerous situation, due to causes originating from human actions or acts of nature;
  • To collaborate in the service of State Honours;
  • To collaborate in the execution of politics of national defence;
  • To prevent crimes and carry out criminal investigations;
  • To carry out the surveillance and patrolling of the coast and territorial sea (European
  • Union external border);
  • To protect and conserve nature and environment;
  • To carry out civil protection;
  • To participate in international missions and represent the country in international organisms/institutions;
  • To serve as the national point of contact for international exchange of information on
  • vehicle related crimes with cross-border repercussions.

The General Mission expands, fundamentally, in the following areas:

  • Policing, which comprehends the Criminal Police and the Administrative Police missions, in the course of acts that are intended to assure the observance and defence of the globally considered juridical order and to guarantee the public order and security, the fiscalization and regulation of traffic, the combat of fiscal and customs infringements and the surveillance of borders;
  • Support and Rescue;
  • Honorific and State representation;
  • Military.

5. Structure and organization

In terms of macrostructure, the GNR is organized by Command, Superior Command and Management Organs, Teaching Units and Establishments. The command structure is constituted by the GNR command and the superior command organs, namely the Operational Command, the Internal Resources Administration Command and the Training and Doctrine Command, all of which are headed by a general.

The units carry out the main GNR activity, whereby they are organised into three hierarchical levels, contemplating 20 district commands of officer command, 128 detachments of officer command and 534 of sergeant command, including the special coastal control, fiscal action and national traffic units. The GNR also has a state security and honours unit and another of intervention and reserve, both of general command. The reserve unit has intervention subunits of public order, special operations, intervention and rescue, K-9 intervention and explosive ordnance and underground security.

6. Staff data

The GNR has a total staff of 24,736 military elements and 1,111 civilians, who carry out their missions throughout 94% of the national territory (86,594.4 square miles) for a 53,8% of the population (5,756,027).

7. Education/Training

The Guarda Nacional Republicana has a superior Command and Management organ, namely the Training and Doctrine Command, and a teaching establishment, which is the GNR School. It also has two training centres, one in Portalegre and another in Figueira da Foz.

The mission of the Training and Doctrine Command is to assure the command and management of all GNR activities in what concerns to doctrine and training. The GNR School is the training establishment which is vocationed for the behavioural, cultural, physical, military, technical and professional training of the GNR military elements, as well as for the modernization, specialization and valorisation of their acknowledgements.

The main training objectives within the GNR are to:

  • Improve the quality of the service rendered to the civil society;
  • Prepare the military element to suitably carry out all types of functions;
  • Strengthen the competences of the military element.

Given that the GNR is a trustworthy and neighbourly human organisation, the quality of the service depends on the investment made on the knowledge and the competences. The training is, thus, a strategic resource for us. As such, within the Guarda Nacional Republicana, it is understood as a collection of educational, pedagogical and doctrinal activities that seek the attainment and promotion of acknowledgements, and technical and professional attitude and behavioral competences required to carry out the duties of a military element.

Thus being, the GNR trainer is a qualified military or civilian element, who bears specific academic and professional qualifications. The trainer’s intervention aims to make it easier to acquire acknowledgements and develop professionally adequate competences, attitudes and behavior manners. Adequate academic qualification is understood as having equal or higher level qualifications as that of the students finishing. The technical competence refers to the domain of specific knowledge of a certain profession or professional area, based on the respective scientific, technical, technological and practical training.

Implementing new technologies in teaching brought a new image upon the Knowledge
Manager, turning the teacher into an e-tutor.

This new role is due to implementing new technologies in teaching. Thus, allowing us to go beyond presential teaching to e-learning and b-learning. These are new pedagogic realities wherein the GNR is taking its first steps.

8. Peacekeeping and International Missions

Fruit of the international commitments assumed by Portugal and due to its gendarmerie nature, it has come to participate in international peace-keeping missions within the compass of both the United Nations and the European Union throughout the world.

Among which, we may highlight its presence in Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Timor-Leste, as well as the individual presence of Officers who are carrying out advisory duties in Kosovo, DR Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Palestine and Georgia.

In 2000 and for the first time in its history, the GNR deployed a selfsustained force of Company echelon abroad to the peace-keeping mission in Timor-Leste, whereby constituting itself as the UNTAET Rapid Reaction Force.

In 2003, the Guarda Nacional Republicana deployed yet another force to a peace-keeping mission. The ALFA subgroup integrated the Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) of the Garibaldi Brigade of the Iraqi coalition forces.

Once again in May 2006 and after previously reiterated requests from the Timorese authorities, which faced a serious internal crisis as well as major disturbances, the GNR prepares and deploys a subgroup within a week to restore and maintain public order in Timor-Leste in cooperation with the military contingents of Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Thus, the mission began due to a bilateral agreement between the governments of Portugal and Timor. On 24 November 2006, by way of a Resolution of the Council of Ministers, the Bravo Subgroup became an integrant part of the international police force of UNMIT (United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste), constituted through Resolution number 1704 (2006) of the United Nations Security Council. The GNR Bravo subgroup, which is constituted by 140 military elements, is currently in Timor-Leste.

The Guarda Nacional Republicana within the compass of EUROGENDFOR.

Portugal integrates the European Gendarmerie Force, succinctly designated as the EUROGENDFOR (EGF), along with France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Romania and Poland.

The Declaration of Intent pertaining to EGF was signed in Noordwijk – The Netherlands on 17
September 2004, whereby the Treaty that institutes and regulates EGF functioning and organization was signed in Velsen – The Netherlands on 18 November 2007.

Following the concretization process of such participation, the then five States agreed among themselves and also between themselves and the Operational Headquarters of the mission, based in Mons – Belgium, upon the contributions that each one would make towards the cited police component of Operation ALTHEA.

EGF is an operational, pre-organised, robust, and rapidly deployable force (800 elements within 30 days) with a high degree of flexibility and interoperability.

Besides participating with constituted forces, the GNR also participates in several international missions individually by way of some of its military elements.

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Judicial Police

1. Functions and missions
The Judicial Police (Policia Judiciaria) is a highly specialized force, both at the technical and scientific levels. Its duty is to prevent and investigate crime. Tactically and investigatively autonomous, this force is tasked with collecting evidence and surveilling public places, including ports and airports.

 2. Structure and organization
The Judicial Police reports to the Minister of Justice. Numbering around 1,500 staff, it operates at both the local and national levels. At the local level, it maintains a presence in towns throughout Portugal and liaises with the courts and prosecutors on whose behalf it carries out investigations. 

At the national level, it carries out investigations of major crimes, such as subversion, drug trafficking, art thefts, terrorism and murder. The four central directorates which carry out functions at the national level focus on:

  • combating crime;

  • investigating corruption, economic and financial fraud;

  • investigating drug trafficking; and

  • maintaining a central information registry for crime prevention.

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Maritime Police

The Portuguese Maritime Police comprises about 500 officers who perform harbour patrols. As a naval service, it is responsible to the Ministry of Defence.

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Aliens and Border Service

The Aliens and Border Service is essentially the immigration police. This service of about 250 officers is responsible for the entry and residence permits of all foreigners in Portugal. It also deals with extradition papers and asylum requests and operates at all airports, ports and borders. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Administration.

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