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Definition of concepts

Local police
Police force that forms part of a council under the higher management of a mayor and that is responsible for vigilance and control of urban traffic and compliance with municipal orders and regulations. Can only act in the territory of its own municipality, but for reasons of exceptional emergency may be called upon to serve in bordering municipalities. Their functions include protecting the authorities, buildings, facilities and dependencies of the local corporation; regulating urban traffic; acting as administrative police in municipal competences and environmental regulations; overseeing public security and order; acting as community police in neighbourhood coexistence and in local public services, and acting as judicial police.

Methodological aspects

The Spanish Constitution (article 148.1.22) and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (article 164) grant the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat) powers for the planning and regulation of public order and the organization of local law-enforcement. This responsibility is developed by Law 16/1991 of local law-enforcement agencies of Catalonia.

This legal framework establishes that all settlements with over 10,000 inhabitants shall have the power, but not the obligation, to create a local police force. At present, all towns with this level of population have a local police force, as well as some with lower population through special authorization from the Ministy of Home Affairs.

The jurisdiction of the local police force is restricted to the area of their municipality. They may only act outside this area in emergencies or with prior authorization from the relevant authorities, and must report any such actions to the Ministry responsible for public order.

Each police force is separate and under the authority of the mayor or mayoress, although it takes its orders from the commanding officer, who is the officer of highest rank.

The model for territorial distribution of the police force of the Generalitat of Catalonia is extra-municipal, in county-wide forces subordinate to regional police authorities. This arrangement makes it possible to concentrate some services in the main towns of Catalonia and extend them to the rest of the country from there.

This distribution has resulted in a model of police forces that varies according to the municipality. Some municipalities have both local police forces and Generalitat police forces, while others have only local police or only those of the Generalitat, while others have no police station at all, with law enforcement provided by the Generalitat through the closest police station.

From 2010, the figures refer to actual members of the force, and not to potential numbers.

Current Territorial Distribution

At present, Catalonia is divided into 41 counties, 1 singular territorial entity (Aran) and 8 areas of the Territorial Plan, according to the latest territorial changes, which affect the areas of El Penedès and the Central Counties, Aran and El Moianès.

Unavailable information is represented using the symbol ":". When the value is lower than that of the minimum unit to be able to estimate the statistical operation or if it effects statistical confidentiality, the symbol used is "..".