The Portuguese Public Security Police
The Portuguese Public Security Police, Polícia de Segurança Pública (PSP), can be traced back to a Royal Charter issued by King Luis I on 2 July 1867, which, in the context of profound administrative reform, authorised the creation of a civil police corps in Lisbon, Porto and the capitals of the various regions. It was a body of paid, uniformed men who patrolled the streets of the cities, 24 hours a day, and who ful lled functions linked to the security of the population.
In 1896, the Civil Police Force in Lisbon was subdivided into the Public Security Police, the Administrative Inspection Police and the Preventive and Judicial Investigative Police. The Public Security Police was charged with “monitoring and maintaining order and public security, policing tra c, vehicles, roads and public places, policing temples, ceremonies, festivals and public gatherings and undertaking police duties aimed at protecting the security of people and property”.
With the implantation of the Republic, and as a result of political disruption, the Civil Police became limited to just a few cities, and was renamed the Civic Police.
During World War I, the organisation of the police forces underwent further reform. The functions of the Criminal Investigative Police were separated from those of the Preventive Police, and the General Directorate of Public Security was created.
The Coup in 1926 which overthrew the First Republic brought signi cant changes to the police forces. A year later, the Public Security Police was formally created, and in 1928 the rst PSP schools were established in Lisbon and Porto to impart courses in literary and professional skills to police o cers.
From 1936, the use of pistols, truncheons and whistles was made compulsory, and a certain militarisation of the police force could be observed. This trend continued until the period following World War II.
In 1935, the General Directorate of Public Security was replaced by the General Command of the Public Security Police, which kept this name until the end of the 1990s. In 1937, the PSP was granted a special tra c police unit to oversee compliance with the legal and regulatory requirements relating to this matter.
In the 1950s and 60s, the PSP became entrenched as a police force in the former Portuguese colonies, with the emergence of Mobile Companies in Angola and Mozambique. The insu cient number of senior o cials from the armed forces, as a consequence of the colonial war, led to the creation of the Practical School of Policing in order to train o cials within the force. Later, in 1982, the Higher School of Policing was created to cover the initial and technical training of the force’s o cers.
In the 1970s, the PSP gradually became more deeply rooted as a force in urban areas. During this period, the Intervention Corps (1977) and the Special Operations Group (1979) were created. It was also in the 1970s that the PSP began to allow women to take up police functions.
The 1990s brought a number of reforms to the PSP, namely in 1994, when it came under the authority of the Minister of Internal Administration and became settled as a civil police force. Later, on 27 January 1999, the General Command was renamed the National Directorate of the PSP.
At the turn of the millennium, the institution faced renewed challenges. Linking technology to community policing and focusing on innovation, as well as on the relationship with those it serves, with the aim of providing a high quality service, are essential components of the vision of the role of the Public Security Police in the near future.
In this issue, the PSP seeks to pay tribute to the thousands of men and women who have anonymously dedicated their lives to the public cause throughout the last century and a half, and who are represented by the gure of the police constable. Indeed, the patrol service may be considered the fundamental core and worthiest aspect of the police force.
On foot or by car, alone or in a team, throughout the existence of the PSP, it has been the police constable who spends days and nights patrolling the streets, monitoring tra c and attending accidents, escorting our children, responding to people’s needs, protecting victims, and ghting constantly for the security of the population as a whole.