This country profile was migrated from the legacy system and the new text is under consideration of the respective government authorities.
Policing overview: Due to the country’s federal structure and cantonal sovereignty in police affairs, there is no sin-gle national police force in Switzerland: the federal system and division into three levels – communal, cantonal and federal – is also reflected in the structure of the Swiss police.
Federal Office of Police
1. General information
The Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) works with its international and cantonal partners as a centre for information, coordination/cooperation and analysis in matters concerning the internal security of Switzerland.
2. Functions and missions
Fedpol’s activities include:
- Criminal investigations on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland which are usually of great complexity and of an international and/or interdisciplinary nature (in particular cases of terrorism, money laundering, corruption and financial crimes);
- Coordination and support to criminal investigations in cases where the cantons have principal competence but which involve more than two cantons and/or foreign countries.
- Security duties such as the protection of persons and sites considered to be at risk;
- Administrative tasks such as, among others, managing the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS), the Coordination Unit against the Trafficking of Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (KSMM), the Coordination Unit for Cybercrime Control (CYCO) or the Central Office for Explosives and Pyrotechnics / Arms.
3. Structure and organization
The four main divisions at the Federal Office of Police are the:
- Main Division Federal Criminal Police, responsible for conducting investigations against transnational organized crime, including financial crime; terrorism and its financing; criminal activities involving explosives; illegal intelligence gathering; offences involving federal elections and ballots; offences against the laws on war material, nuclear weapons, dual-use goods and specific military goods and on civil aviation; corruption; genocide; money counterfeiting; as well as the execution of rogatory letters from abroad. Finally, the Federal Criminal Police coordinates the intercantonal and international investigations and ensures the exchange of police information with Interpol;
- Main Division Services, performing a cross-sectional function and providing services to clients in Switzerland and abroad (DNA/AFIS-Services, Identity Documents, National Police Information Systems etc.);
- Main Division Federal Security Service, responsible for the protection of federal officials and people and buildings affording protection under international law as well as in charge of the structural, technical and organisational security strategy for federal civilian buildings in Switzerland;
- Main Division International Police Cooperation, among others in charge of the operational and strategic development of the bilateral and multilateral police cooperation, including the cooperation with the European Union and the Schengen-area in the field of law enforcement. Moreover, it functions as Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for bilateral, Interpol, Europol-, and Schengen-related correspondence and manages the Swiss police attachés abroad as well as the foreign police attachés in Switzerland.
To view an organization chart, please visit the Attachments section.
Cantonal Police Corps
1. Functions and missions
The responsibility for law and order basically lies with the cantons, where the police have also the function of judicial police and of coordination body in the event of major disasters. The cantons also mainly determine the structure of their police forces.
2. Structure and organization
The Swiss federal structure is reflected in a number of cantonal police services which are organized in different ways:
- The German-speaking cantons distinguish generally between criminal, security and traffic police, the security police having the more general function of maintaining law and order and the criminal police having the more specific task of investigation of crimes;
- The French-speaking cantons, as well as the canton Ticino, distinguish generally between the “gendarmerie“ and “police de sûreté“, with the latter being the equivalent to the criminal police, whereas the “gendarmerie” corresponds to the security police in the German-speaking cantons but also act as traffic police;
In addition, the cantonal police corps dispose of special task units, intervention units and special institutions as the lake and airport police.
For more detailed information, please follow the link to the cantonal police desks in the Links section below.
Communal Police Corps
Communal police corps became established in cantons that are territorially subdivided or whose communes traditionally have a high level of autonomy, such as Zurich and Lausanne among others. The competence of whether a communal police is established and what are its responsibilities lies with the canton. A detailed list of all the communal police corps can be found on the following link: www.polizei.ch.
The Corps of the Swiss Border Guards is the uniformed and armed part of the Federal Customs Administration and is, therefore, part of the Federal Department of Finance. It has three strategic tasks:
Together with the collection of value added tax and customs duties, these include the prevention of smuggling and trafficking in narcotics, weapons, war material, hazardous substances, protected animal species, cultural artefacts and counterfeit branded articles. The Border Guard also has other economic, trade and health policy tasks.
Police security duties
These mainly involve searching for persons, goods and vehicles, detecting document forgeries and preventing international crime.
Aliens police duties
These include the prevention of illegal entry into and departure from the country, illegal residence and working, people smuggling and trafficking.
The Swiss Police Forces comprise about 23,000 members. This includes federal, cantonal communal police forces as well as the Swiss Border Guards.
The education and training of the police corps are organised at cantonal level. There are, however, also training centers which are managed by several cantons together in the framework of a concordat.
The police training in Switzerland is organized as follows:
The Swiss Police Institute, the Police Schools and Swiss Federation of Police Officers.
- The Swiss Police Institute
The Swiss Police Institute (SPI) is a foundation established under private law that is active in the field of police training and develops and implements a national training strategy on behalf of the Swiss police. The SPI is supported by the federal government, cantons and municipalities.
In addition to offering courses for management officers and specialists, the SPI coordinates and supervises the professional and higher professional examinations for police officers as well as the certification of public security assistants.
Through its publishing activities, SPI coordinates the editing, production, publication and distribution of teaching materials for the police. It promotes as well the cooperation between Swiss and foreign police schools and supports applied police research by hosting a documentation center, the CentreDoc.
On a federal level, the SPI ensures the quality and the unity of police training doctrine by coordinating content and teaching methods. In a spirit of continuous development, it guarantees the coherence of the basic training, sustainability in the advanced training, as well as the uniformity of the federal exams.
The other two main areas of trainings are the professional specialization and the training of trainers or of points of contacts.
Since 2004, the Institute, as a coordination center, has been organising federal exams and ensuring that the tests leading to the Federal Certificate of Proficiency or the Police Officer License (protected titles) run smoothly.
- The Police Schools
2.1 Interregional Police Training Center - CIFPol
The Interregional Police Training Centre (CIFPol) is dedicated to training police candidates from the cantons of Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Jura, as well as public security assistants.
Under the leadership of a single directorate, the intensification of collaboration between the three cantons makes it possible to benefit from existing best practices by exploiting synergies, for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
This decentralized model, which guarantees proximity to the police forces, offers a coherent training framework and encourages the sharing of knowledge and skills.
CIFPOL's mission is to guarantee, at all times and in all situations, an appropriate police action.
A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://cifpol.ch/
2.2 Police Training Center in Giubiasco - CFP
The Training Section, through the Police Training Center, deals with everything related to basic, continuous and advanced training.
Police training, coordinated at the cantonal level by a section of the Ticino Cantonal Police Command Service, is made operational by the CFP, which is responsible for the following:
- The basic training of candidate Police Officers, together with the Police School of the 5th examination district.
- Continuous training of already qualified officers, in order to ensure their improvement and specialization.
- External training and continuing education, to update intervention techniques and to obtain the necessary certificates for the use of coercive means, available to the officers.
As a regional training center, the CFP also offers training services to other police forces, especially to municipal ones.
A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://www4.ti.ch/di/pol/chi-siamo/la-formazione-in-polizia/scuola-di-polizia/
2.3 Zurich Police School - ZHPS
The ZHPS acts goal-oriented, performance-oriented, people-oriented and practice-oriented. ZHPS meets the high standards of the Zurich Police Corps in quality, reputation and innovation. The ZHPS sets high performance expectations, offers a climate conducive to learning, guarantees permanent school development as well as professional organization and administration. It also creates the best possible conditions for the successful completion of the federal professional examination/certification for operational capability and sustainable career entry.
The ZHPS strengthens the further cooperation between the Zurich police corps and helps to consolidate its leading role within the Swiss police in the interest of the Zurich population. A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://zhps.ch/
2.4 Interkantonal Police College Hitzkirch - IPH
The Interkantonal Police College Hitzkirch is the largest training and further training center for the police in Switzerland. The IPH is the first partner of the police forces in central and northwestern Switzerland and is their training provider. Every year, some 250 to 300 candidates come here to train as police officers for their future duties. The Seminar Center has the largest and best infrastructure in Switzerland for training in the field of security. It is considered a leader in this field. The Swiss Police Institute uses this infrastructure for the driving courses I and II, the forensic courses, the SIMUNITION shooting courses and the Personal Security through Communication (EIKO) courses.
A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://www.iph-hitzkirch.ch/
2.5 The Police School of Eastern Switzerland (Polizeischule Ostschweiz)
The Police School of Eastern Switzerland opened its doors in 2006. Each year, it provides police training to about 90 students, who obtain the federal police license. The Police School Eastern Switzerland in Amriswil offers a comprehensive basic training for future police officers of six cantons, two cities and of Liechtenstein. The political and strategic responsibility for the school is defined by the Conference of Directors of the Cantonal Departments of Justice and Police of Eastern Switzerland.
A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://www.polizeischule-ostschweiz.ch/
2.6 Savatan Police Academy
The Academy is the privileged place for the reflection and integration of activities related to police training. In this perspective, it ensures the relevance, quality and coherence of this kind of training.
The Police Academy provides basic training for the Federal Police License. It also offers professional development activities in response to needs of various police forces and partners in the Swiss security landscape. It trains public security assistants for some of the police forces and municipalities in French-speaking cantons. In close partnership with the Swiss Police Institute in Neuchâtel, the Savatan Academy advises the police forces and the associations representing their members in matters of professional training. The Police Academy encourages, facilitates and plans exchanges of expertise with other institutions outside the canton. In particular, it promotes the contribution of specialists from the French-speaking part of Switzerland to international exchange missions in the field of police training.
A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://academie-de-police.ch/
- Swiss Federation of Police Officers SFPU
The Swiss Federation of Police Officers is based in Lucerne and counts more than 26,000 members. It is the association of all police officers in Switzerland and acts at all levels, communal, cantonal and federal.
In close cooperation with its members, the FSFP is committed to obtaining fair and good working conditions for its colleagues. In order to achieve this, it looks ahead, anticipates possible obstacles and lays the foundations for Swiss police officers to avoid difficulties in the performance of their duties as much as possible.
In close cooperation with the Swiss Police Institute, the SPSF organizes training and further education courses for police forces.
A detailed information can be found on the following link: https://www.vspb.org/
With regard to advanced training, additionally to the already cited possibilities, especially with the Swiss Police Institute, there are also the international training possibilities offered through the Middle European Police Academy (MEPA) and the European Police College (CEPOL).
Concerning the Swiss Border Guards, they have their own three- year education, which comprises a one-year basic education and two years of specialized education on several topics.
For more detailed information, please follow the link to the official websites of these training centers in the Links section below.