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German Police


Germany as a unified state was formed in the second half of the 19th century. However, in the 20th century, it was separated again after World War II. East and West Germany had their independent police structures. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was no union but rather the absorption of the GDR by its more economically developed neighbor – FRG. The police system of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the foundations and principles of its functioning, spread on the eastern parts of the country. These days, German police have a highly developed structure. The main objective of German police is to ensure public safety and public order within the Federal Republic of Germany by preventing commission of crimes and the prosecution of offenders.

Composition of the Police

The author Gordon Williamson states that “the police had always had a respected status in German society” (Williamson, 2012, p. 1). German police include federal police structures and police of states. Throughout the country, there is the jurisdiction of the following services – the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Federal Police, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Rail and Air Police of the Ministry of Transport, Services of the Postal Police of the Ministry of Post, Radio and Telegraph, and Customs Investigation Service of the Ministry of Finance. The Federal Republic of Germany consists of sixteen federal states. Each of them has its police services, the organization of which differs from each other in different regions. It is associated with the fact that states significantly vary from one another by the nature and size of the territory. Therefore, even the color of the uniform and cars is different in different lands. In some lands, they are green, in others – blue. The Law on Police is adopted and valid only at the level of individual provinces. Naturally, the Ministry of Internal Affairs coordinates the work at the federal level. The composition of the police of states includes security police, criminal police, police maintaining order on water, police of readiness, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and the authorities of the police department. In Germany, the Federal Police is in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Germany. The Ministry is headed by the Minister.

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Police Functions

Police services and agencies in the Federal Republic of Germany perform a great number of functions, in addition to the classic ones – the protection of public order and combating crime. They are also responsible for guarding the borders of the state and are engaged in providing public safety and constitutional order. “The general police forces are essentially responsible for ensuring public security and order” (Usa, 2012, p. 180). Not only the Ministry of Internal Affairs has its police structures but also the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Post, Radio and Telegraph. The German Bundeswehr has its military police. Employees of forestry, public health departments, and insurance associations also have police powers. The federal police agencies are involved in the most difficult and important issues. They are the main link between the police agencies of states, maintain a single information field in the country, and provide organizational and methodological support to the territorial division.

History of German Police

The formation of police structures was largely influenced by the history of the country. Even in the 19th century, there were independent countries on the territory of modern Germany. Until 1989, the People’s Police of the German Democratic Republic obeyed the general secretary of the Communist Party. After the merger with West German police, the police have been reduced by over a third. There appeared decentralization, autonomy, and technical re-equipment. Each federal unit had its department. The demand for professional selection increased.

However, during the first years after the unification, crime in East Germany increased by 30-50% (Fulbrook, 2014). Such a dramatic increase was associated with the new calculations standards, which revealed previously fixed not statistics. The surge of Neo-Nazism has led to even greater growth of crime. The united Federal Republic of Germany had to adopt a new group of reforms. Many units of People’s Police were disbanded, in particular, the support unit of the Stasi, the political police of the GDR. Any cooperation with the Stasi or the Communist Party could be the reason for an employee’s dismissal (Koehler, 2008). In such a way, mass lustration began. The police from West Germany took control functions in the eastern states. As a result, in the service of the GDR, 80% of the junior officers, 20% of the older, and only 1% of the higher have left (Fulbrook, 2014). Remaining police officers have passed mandatory additional training under the guidance of the West German colleagues and foreign experts. The result was the increase in the level of public confidence in the police and a significant reduction in the crime rate in East Germany.

These days, there are federal lands, which largely retained their autonomous rights. The terrible years, when the country was ruled by the National Socialists, also left their significant mark. One of the main tasks of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is to fight with right and left political radicalism. The tragic events that took place at the Munich Olympics became the reason of the formation of one of the world’s best units to combat terrorism – GSG-9 in 1972. Federal Police, which includes this special unit, was created in 2005 from the Federal Border Guard Service. In fact, it performs the same functions. This structure employs 40,000 people (Usa, 2012). The Federal Police owns one of the largest aircraft fleets in Europe. It consists of five squadrons and a helicopter group. Many police structures of the federal states also have their aircraft. The Federal Criminal Police Office organizes the relations between police forces and the justice system, actively cooperating with Interpol. This service deals with the disclosure of the most serious, interregional crimes, the organization of combating organized crime, protection of witnesses and their families, and many other areas of work. It employs around 5,500 employees (Usa, 2012). Moreover, the civil servants constitute one-third of them. In Germany, there are no municipal police agencies. The German Federal Police is engaged in purely transnational crimes. In such a way, national security is fully supported by the regional police forces. This system can rightfully be called decentralized.

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Police Division

The police of German federal states experts usually is divided into services, where employees work in the uniform; for example, the police of the order protection, and where the staff have a form, but work without it, for example, Criminal Police Office, and the Land Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the employees of which do not have a uniform, in general. The police of federal lands engaging in the protection of order are the largest police force in Germany, consisting of 160-165 thousand members (Usa, 2012). It deals with everyday police work. It guards the public order, monitors compliance with road safety and regulations of fire safety, sanitary-epidemiological safety, and trade. It also implements passport control and escorting. The State Office of Criminal Police consists of 25,000 people (Usa, 2012). Their competence is the range of issues related to the area of criminal police work, the fight against organized crime, and other criminal manifestations. In addition, employees implement a consultation regarding the issues of ensuring the protection of property.


Germany is considered to be a progressive and wealthy state. The main objective of German police is to ensure public order and public safety on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, preventing the commission of offenses and prosecution of people who stepped over the line of law. On the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, along with the police, there is still a number of organizations with substantially identical rights but not related to the internal affairs bodies.