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Police and what to do when stopped 

We all know that the police are tasked with doing a job something that some people don’t like. However, we must re-member that all police forces worldwide are there to keep the public and road users safe, where ever that is possible. In the Canaries, there are four police “forces” or departments.

Policia Local

These are police employed by the local Ayuntamiento and their duties are varied. They are used to control traffic outside or near schools to ensure the safety when crossing a road of pupils and their parents or guardians. They act as “traffic Wardens” in so much as they are permitted to give tickets for vehicles parked illegally or in an unauthorised place i.e. in front of a VADO sign, in a Carga y Descarga (not within the permitted hours), they are also able to call the grua and have a vehicle removed if it is causing an obstruction. Whilst their powers are somewhat limited they are still able to cost you money if you do something illegal or unauthorised!

They wear a dark blue uniform with a lighter blue label denoting POLICIA LOCAL. Their cars are white with a light blue strip in conjunction with their uniform.

 

Policia Canaria

This is a relatively new force and as the name suggest they are a force who only has jurisdictions within the Canary Islands. They are often seen at road blocks and are easily identified by their uniforms and hats which are very dark blue almost black and their vehicles are the same dark colours.

 

Guardia Civil

These police have normally received military training and have considerably more training and experience that the Policia Locals and Policia Canaria. They are the Traffic police and the ones who normally attend to an accident, although sometimes the Policia local do attend, both have vans that you may have seen with the signs on the side of ATESTADO which can be described as a mobile vehicle for taking statements. They generally have in these vehicles facilities to take copies of documents to add to any witness statements or to confirm a person’s identity. Most, although not all officers speak English, some fluently others basic, but as we are in Spain its always best to try and communicate in the language of the country in which we reside, often a little will go a long way.

The Guardia Civil also act as what we would know as CID, investigating burglaries, murders, sudden deaths etc so perhaps it’s more likely that residents may have been in contact with this force at some point whilst living here either for themselves or via friends or acquaintances. Their uniforms are a bottle green colour, and in general most of these officers are a little older than those in the Policia local and Policia Canaria.

 

Policia Nacional

This is the highest force in Spain and deals with immigration, deportation, drugs etc. These officers are specialized and not to be messed with! Most readers will have encountered them at the National Police Station in Playa de Las Americas when applying for an NIE number or Residencia, or if of a non-European nationality obtaining a residence card (similar to a DNI). They are tasked with transporting prisoners to Court and are often in seen in large vans, (heavily protected similar to a Black Mariar in the UK) travelling up and down the Motorway.

This is just a brief outline of the forces who are here and their powers.