The Guardia Civil is a law enforcement force, a gendarmerie corps with a military nature with a permanent vocation for services. It was founded in 1844 under the reign of Elizabeth II of Spain, appointing the Duke of Ahumada to this shape to this new force. He promptly stamped his own virtues such as a strong discipline, stamina, loyalty and a praiseworthy spirit to this new corps.
The engagement of the Guardia Civil in humanitarian activities, its tribute to honour and thoroughness in the performance of its tasks has conferred it from the very beginning, the respect and admiration of the people, who started calling it the “Benemérita” (Praiseworthy or Meritorious Corps), this is has been its official denomination since the 4 of October 1929 when it was awarded the Great Cross of Mercy.
TThe Guardia Civil’s 175th anniversary.
The Guardia Civil has developed into a modern police corps adapted to the new realities and social needs. Under both the authority of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It carries out its policing role under the MOI, and from the MOD regarding military missions.
The Guardia Civil is a modern and an integral police force with over 80000 officers deployed across 2250 units throughout all the Spanish territory (of which 1967 have public assistance points) it renders services to 83% of the Spanish municipalities, providing in this way security and protection to 16.3 million residents (35% of the national population). It is permanently committed to the service carrying out over 7250 patrols daily, over 31,000 surveillance services in schools, 12000 lectures to students in prevention of antisocial behaviour, more than 2000 assistances services and 1600 lectures to elderly annually.
It carries out the full spectrum of police task, inter alia, preventive policing (public order and security), criminal investigations, administrative policing (arms, explosive administrative control of activities…), fiscal police (customs control and protection of the State´s economic interest), environmental police, and road police.
Its main responsibility is to protect the free exercise of rights and freedoms of the citizens, ensuring their public safety in accordance to article 104.1 of the Spanish Constitution.
It is a highly versatile police force that has the ability to act in different environments (sea, air, mountain, deserted and populated areas, and both rural and urban environments), demonstrating its capability to effectively combat against the greatest security threats, such as terrorism, serious organized crime, corruption or cybercrime.
As an example below are listed some of the capabilities the Guardia Civil has established:
- Public safety: community policing, public assistance, prevention of crime and public disorders and managing of riots. Assistance in case of catastrophe;
- Road traffic: providing safety and protection to road users, surveillance of traffic ensuring road traffic discipline, investigations and accident reports;
- Environmental Protection: Ensuring the protection of the environment, conservation of natural resources and existing natural environment;
- Air Service: Rescue, surveillance, transport and security missions;
- Remount & dog handling: Dogs are trained for drug and explosive detection, other detection categories include currency, fire accelerants, submerged human remains, biological traces, poisoned baits, fired weapons, drugs and tobacco. Also trained and used for security and rescue;
- EOD & CBRN: Detect, neutralize and deactivate EOD;
- Maritime Service: to police the Spanish continental sea, includes underwater activities, controlling illegal trafficking;
- Mountain Rescue: policing and rescue in mountainous areas, areas with special difficulty;
- Divers and underwater activities;
- Intelligence: Information gathering and intelligence development of interest for maintaining public safety and order;
- Criminal Investigation Division: Investigate criminal activity and coordinate with judicial authorities;
- Customs & Borders: Prevent contraband, smuggling, fraud, and other fiscal offences;
- Protection & Security Service: provides protection and security to public buildings, underground, currency & prisoner transports, technical studies of physical security, embassies;
- Special Intervention Unit: Deals with kidnappings, hostage situations, arrests of dangerous criminals, dements, VIP’s close security, high risk operations, highly specialized response;
- Rapid Action Unit: fight against terrorist organizations, medium risk and rapid response operations. Delivers training at its Centre of Excellence for Special Training;
- Underground unit;
- Weapons and explosives inspectorate: Administrative control and inspection of legal weapons. Investigation and prevention of illegal weapon trafficking;
- International Missions & International Cooperation;
- Cavalry Squad;
- Equipment and weaponry service;
- Information technology services: Cyber investigations.
In the international spectrum, one of the permanent goals of the Guardia Civil is to strengthen its capacities of international cooperation through mechanism of collaboration with police and gendarmerie from others countries, institutions and international organizations or agencies, as well as to participate in crisis management missions and to support Spain’s external action.
The Guardia Civil ´s characteristics and capacities make it an ideal corps to take on these responsibilities. Its police nature, its training and awareness that the national security of a country many times starts away from its own borders, leads us to find presence of the Guardia Civil abroad.
In this vein, the Guardia Civil participates in crisis management missions (police, military and bridging operations), international police cooperation through EUROPOL, EUROJUST, Joint Investigation Teams, joint police stations and liaison officers.
Internationally, the Guardia Civil is present in organizations such as the EU, UN, OSCE, FRONTEX, OLAF, EUROGENDFOR or NATO, as well as in Spanish embassies (Counsellors, Embassy Attachés, and security detachments), carrying out a variety of duties, including the delivery of technical assistance to the establishment of other police forces.