Police in Portugal

The five main police organizations in Portugal are the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), Public Security Police (PSP), the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), Judicial Police and ASAE. The first three of these come under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Judicial Police under the Ministry of Justice.

Each of these organizations has its headquarters in Lisbon and is divided into various geographical structures. The responsibilities of police are diverse ranging from internal security, ensuring public order, border control, crime prevention, traffic control and enforcement, the investigation of crime and day to day policing throughout the country.

Safe Communities Portugal works very closely with all these organizations primarily in the area of crime prevention and engagement, encouraging the reporting of crime and suspicious activities and enhancing public awareness through education.


GNR small

The GNR created in 1911, is a paramilitary security force organised into a Special Corps of Troops. In peacetime, it is dependent upon the Ministry of Internal Affairs, for the purposes of recruitment, administration and performance of duties arising from its general mission, and on the National Ministry of Defence, for the purposes of standardisation and regulation of the military doctrine, arms and equipment. The GNR’s missions are: to guarantee, within the scope of its responsibility, the maintenance of public order, within its area of jurisdiction exercised mainly through the policing of all areas in the country except for the larger cities which come under the jurisdiction of the PSP.


pspThe PSP was formed in 1867. Its overall responsibilities are ensuring democratic legality, safeguarding internal security and the rights of its citizens in accordance with the constitution and laws of Portugal. The PSP is commanded by a National Director responsible to the Minister of Internal Affairs. Its duties, defined in law, are diverse and include protection of key points, diplomatic protection, security of major events, traffic policing, private security and firearms licensing, crime prevention, investigation of crime, airport security and protection of persons and property within its areas of remit. It is responsible for the policing of all the airports as well are the larger cities.

Judicial Police

jud-policeThe Judicial Police was created on 20 October 1945, and is dedicated to the prevention and investigation of serious crime throughout the country. It is integrated into justice system and has been designed and shaped over decades to serve justice. Managed by judicial magistrates and prosecutors and officials with legal training, the Judicial Police deals with increasingly complex criminality in areas such as: drug trafficking, cybercrime, terrorism, money laundering corruption and crimes involving firearms. It has a number of specialist crime support and investigative units including those responsible for forensic examinations and international cooperation with INTERPOL and EUROPOL.


sefSEF is a security service within the Ministry of Internal Affairs that is responsible for carrying out checks on persons at the borders, monitoring aliens inside national territory, preventing and fighting organized crime involving illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings, decide upon asylum applications, issuing passports and identification documents to foreign nationals, in order to safeguard internal security and individual rights and freedoms within the global context of the migratory phenomenon. SEF is also responsible for promoting, coordinating and implementing the measures and actions related to these activities and to migratory movements.


ASAFThe Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE) is the national specialised administrative authority for food safety and economic surveillance.

ASAE is responsible for the exercise of economic activities in the food and non-food sectors, by monitoring, preventing and enforcement of regulations and legislation. ASAE is a criminal police body.

ASAE has a very wide scope, responsible for the enforcement of over 1000 food, non-food and services laws. It is also the competent authority for the surveillance of sale of products and services, in order to ensure safety and consumer health, as well as developing preventive and enforcement actions relating to illegal gambling.