Spain is a country that has several public security forces (inappropriately named ‘police forces’ as not all of them are police officers).
Almost every city and town has one police station of this kind.
They deal with keeping the peace, traffic control (including fines), security reinforcements when there is an event, etc.
It is the most common type of public security officer and the one that you normally see patrolling the streets. They dress in blue.
Again, most cities have a police station with at least a unit of these officers.
They deal with investigation and research for crimes and they are divided in several task forces: drugs, organised crime, computer crimes, scientist police, etc.
They work closely with the courts and prosecutors although they also have other duties like border control and issuing NIEs.
This is the police you see in films and TV shows. They dress in blue as well.
Most countries have these two types but Spain is a country politically divided in 17 autonomous communities and that changes things.
This structure with semi-independent regions implies that every one of them has its own public security forces.
They are different from each other and address different matters and their uniforms vary wildly.
Ertzaintza (Basque Country police force)
They are historically considered the toughest of them all (along with the Guardia Civil) as they have been trained to fight against ETA terrorism (the threat which luckily has faded over time).
Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalonia police force)
They do serve directly under the Catalonian Government and will be, for example, the ones policing the 1st October referendum.
Lastly, a reminder from a previous era:
Half police officers and half soldiers. These agents cover all the regions the local police does not.
They mainly act as traffic control for any territory between populations.
They also patrol and keep the peace in villages, small towns, forests, small islands and regions with little or no population.
They also have exclusive duties inside the cities like the protection of every court in Spain. They have a very particular green uniform topped with a remarkable black hat called ‘tricornio’.
As you see, there are many different types of public security forces in Spain and each one of them have their own protocols, duties and proceedings.
Should you have encountered any of those and need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.