The Guardia Civil is a State Security Force, with military nature and nationwide competences, founded during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of Spain, and its origin dates back to the 28th March 1844. The Guardia Civil is an institution whose raison d’être is the protection of citizens, their property and assets, and its core mission consists in ensuring the full exercise of rights and freedoms.
Currently, the Guardia Civil is the largest police force in Spain, in terms of area covered (carrying out public security tasks in 84% of the Spanish territory and the entire Spanish territorial waters) and personnel (with around 80,000 guardias civiles).
The Guardia Civil is accountable to two ministries: the Ministry of the Interior, for all concerning public security affairs, and the Ministry of Defence, regarding military missions. At the same time, the Guardia Civil also serves the needs of the Ministries of Justice, Finance, and Environment, as well as Regional and Local Administrations in accordance with their respective competences.
Apart from the constant adaptation and modernisation, the Guardia Civil has progressively assumed new responsibilities, performing nowadays the widest spectrum of police duties (road traffic control, criminal investigation, protection of coasts, borders, territorial waters, seaports and airports, environmental protection, public order and safety, control over weapons and explosives, mountain rescue or counter-terrorism, inter alia).
In order to carry out all these functions, the Guardia Civil is present in the territory through Regional Headquarters (Zonas): the highest command unit, corresponding to Autonomous Regions (Comunidades Autónomas), Provincial Headquarters (Comandancias): they cover the whole territory of a province and are divided into Companies (Compañías) and Stations (Puestos), the latest, in an amount exceeding 2.000, in three different levels of deployment. As a complement to this operational structure, the Guardia Civil relies on different specialised Units such as Road Traffic Unit, Nature & Environment Protection Service, Air Service, K-9 Service, EOD & CBRN Service, Maritime Service, Underwater Search Unit, Mountain Rescue Service, Intelligence Command, Judicial Police Command, Fiscal and Border Control Command, Weapons & Explosives Inspectorate, and Special Units.