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

Policing overview: The law enforcement agencies in Estonia are the National Police, the Central Law Enforcement Police, the Border Guards and the Security Police Board.

National Police

1. Functions and missions 
The Estonian National Police identifies the areas directed at the community as priority areas. Therefore, priority is given to dealing with offences that decrease the sense of security in society, involve largescale damage, or endanger people in their everyday lives.

Fight against crimes committed by, and directed against minors, especially those involving child victims, is considered a priority. Fight against organised crime associated with narcotic and psychotropic substances, fighting against money laundering and detecting and seizing related criminal proceeds is of continuously high importance.

The police also places emphasis on traffic safety with the aim of improving traffic culture in general, in order to facilitate a decrease in the number of casualties in car accidents, and to increase the detection of drunk-driving and speeding.

2. Structure and organization
The Estonian police is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and is governed by its central and supervisory authority Police Board. The head of the Estonian police is the National Police Commissioner who is appointed by the government for a five-year term.

The Estonian Police Board is the central and supervisory authority which manages, directs and co-ordinates the activities of all police agencies under its administration. It is also responsible for the analysis of the activities of the police institutions, development and review of legislative acts, development of new working methods, trends and activity plans, technological support and international co-operation with other countries and international law enforcement bodies.

There are four territorial police units called Police Prefectures: Northern Prefecture, Southern Prefecture, Eastern Prefecture and Western Prefecture. Each police prefecture has three functional departments: the law enforcement department, the service department and the crime department. The main task of each of these departments is to guarantee that the police work is performed in the respective fields on the whole territory of the police prefecture. These regional prefectures are responsible for general police tasks, such as maintaining public order, fighting crime and assisting the public.

Besides the Police Board, there are 3 other central police agencies: the Central Law Enforcement Police, the Central Criminal Police, and the Forensic Service Centre.

The tasks of the Central Law Enforcement Police include participation in public order maintenance in co-operation with other police institutions, dealing with mass disturbances and group public order violations, conducting misdemeanor proceedings, and supervision traffic, ensuring safety along the route of travel of protected persons. Also, protecting the President of the Republic, the Chair Person of the Parliament, the Prime Minister and, pursuant to the order of the Government of the Republic, other persons and official guests of the state and guaranteeing the protection of and entry regime to the objects designated by the Government of the Republic as well as organising activities related to police dogs.

The Central Criminal Police coordinates the activities criminal police in Estonia and the international cooperation of the criminal police. Investigation of major drug and economic offences, offences related to organised crime, money laundering and IT and international offences of great national or public relevance are carried out by the police officers of the Central Criminal Police.

The Forensic Service Centre conducts forensic examinations, participates in gathering crime evidence, and administers of forensic databases and exhanges data with members of European Network.

3. Staff data 
As of March 2007 the total number of empoyees working in the police system is 4405, out of which 3237 police officers and 1168 officials.

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Border Guards

1. General information
The Estonian Border Guards is an armed national organization which, during peacetime, is administratively included within the Ministry of the Interior.

2. Functions and missions
The main obligations of the Border Guards are to:

  • guard and defend state borders on land, sea and trans-boundary bodies of water;

  • counteract violent changes to state borders;

  • counteract the illegal crossing of state borders;

  • counteract illegal transport of goods across state borders; 

  • guarantee the border regime;

  • conduct border checks;

  • verify the legality of foreigners’ stays in Estonia;

  • collect and analyze information with the aim to counteract illegal migration and border crossings;

  • organize, conduct and manage search and rescue operations in the Estonian marine rescue region;

  • ascertain, localize and liquidate marine pollution;

  • execute national defence tasks; and

  • execute other tasks assigned to the Border Guards by law.

3. Structure and organization 
The Board of Border Guards is the entity that manages all Border Guard operations and is divided into staff and logistics departments. There are six staff departments - frontier, coast guard, intelligence, personnel, development and IT and administrative departments - and three logistics departments - finance, technical and procurement.

4. Education / Training
The first distance study group of the Border Guards College started in September 2006 under the auspices of the Public Service Academy of Estonia, and its graduates will be the first to receive a professional higher education in border guarding.

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Security Police Board

1. Functions and missions
The Security Police Board is a governmental authority operating within the Ministry of Internal Affairs that became an independent institution in June 1993. With the Security Authorities Act, which entered into force in 2001, the Security Police Board was transformed from a police authority into a security authority.

A broader function of the Estonian Security Police as a government agency within the area of government of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is maintenance of national security through collection of information and implementation of preventive measures as well as investigation of offences to the extent established by the Government of the Republic Regulation.

The principles and trends guiding the activity of the Estonian Security Police are set out in a number of framework documents:

  • Constitution of the Republic of Estonia
  • Principles of the security policy of the Republic of Estonia
  • Strategic security threat assessment of the Republic of Estonia
  • Main trends of the security policy of Estonia
  • Development plan for internal security
  • Development plans for the area of government of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and for the Board
  • Anti-corruption strategy
  • Main principles of counter-terrorism combat of Estonia

Tasks of the Estonian Security Police:

  • collection and processing of information for the prevention and combating of activities aimed at changing by force the constitutional order and territorial integrity of Estonia;
  • collection and processing of information for the prevention and combating of intelligence activities directed against the state;
  • collection and processing of information for the prevention and combating of terrorism (including financing and supporting thereof);
  • protection of state secrets and classified information of foreign states, performance of security vetting;
  • non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conduct of proceedings of offences related to explosive substances;
  • anti-corruption combat;
  • conduct of proceedings of other offences within the investigative jurisdiction of the Board.

The Estonian Security Police is among the security authorities that have also been assigned the tasks of the police. It means investigation of offences and, for instance, the legal right to apply coercive measures.

The prime objective of the Estonian Security Police within the limits of its competence is to reduce security threats aimed at the Republic of Estonia and by that to maintain national security. However, ensuring a qualitative security environment in today's world is not confined to the territory of one state. Sharing the common security area of NATO and the European Union obliges Estonia to contribute to the prevention of various global threats (i.e. terrorism, mass disorders, cyber crime, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction). In this regard, the Estonian Security Police has an important role to fulfil by cooperating actively with the security and law enforcement authorities of other states and with international organisations. The aim of the joint activity is to protect the core values such as: democracy, human rights and freedoms and the state based on the rule of law.

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Criminal Justice System

1. General information
Estonia has a tri-level court system comprising district and city courts, regional (appellate) courts and the Supreme Court.

2. Prosecution
Prosecutions are handled either by state prosecutors or by district and municipal prosecutors working within their respective jurisdictions. Under the authority of the Minister of Justice, the tasks of the prosecutors are to:

  • bring public prosecutions in all courts;
  • verify that police activities and preliminary investigations in criminal cases are conducted with due respect for appropriate procedures and in accordance with the law;
  • supervise prison camps and the application of compulsory medical measures.

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