Security Policy


Law enforcement agencies

The State is exclusively responsible for public safety as provided for in Article 149.1.29 of the Spanish Constitution. The Government of the Nation is responsible for maintaining security. Furthermore, in Article 104 thereof, it is provided that the Law Enforcement Agencies directly depend on the government. This article goes on to provide that "a constitutional law will determine the duties, basic principles of action and governing statutes of the law enforcement agencies. Hence, the regulation of the powers on security issues is established in Constitutional Law 2/1986, of 13 March, on Law Enforcement Agencies (Spanish acronym: LOFCS). Article 2 thereof specifies and defines law enforcement agencies in Spain, as follows:

  • State law enforcement agencies under the national gov­ernment: these exercise their functions throughout Spain. They comprise the National Police Force and the Guardia Civil. Their main mission is to protect the free exercise of rights and liberties and to guarantee public safety. The National Police Force is an armed institution that is civil in nature and attached to the Ministry of Home Affairs. It performs its duties in the pro­vincial capitals, municipal territories and urban communities as determined by the government. The Guardia Civil is a law enforcement agency which was founded in the mid-19th century. It is organised as an armed in­stitution that is military in nature and attached to the Ministries of Home Affairs and Defence. It performs its duties throughout Spain and in its territorial waters.
  • Police forces attached to the autonomous regions: certain autonomous communities, under the powers recognised in their statutes, have created their own police forces to perform the duties of secu­rity and protection as established in the Constitution and the Statute on Law Enforcement Agencies. The Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalonia, the Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, the Provincial Police Force in Navarre and the General Canary Islands Police Force, among others, fall under this category. Similarly, and employing the mechanism of 'attachment' as provided for in Article 47 of the LOFCS, so-called Attached Units have been created in the regions of Galicia, Valencia, Madrid, Andalusia, Aragon and Asturias. These units co-exist in the autonomous region together with the national police force, while structurally belonging to the national police force and functionally to the corresponding autonomous region.
  • Police forces attached to local councils: armed insti­tutions that are civil in nature, with a hierarchical structure and organisation. Local police are empow­ered to act in all matters concerning the enforcement of specific local laws within the scope of their powers.

In recent years, a major effort has been made to im­prove coordination between national, regional and local police forces. In total, there are more than 243,000 officers guaranteeing security in Spain.

Fighting terrorism

The right to life and freedom and, within this context, to physical integrity and freedom of expression are fun­damental rights as laid down in the Spanish Constitution. These rights, in particular, and our peaceful and democratic co-existence, as in other countries, are under threat from one of the world's greatest scourges: terrorism.

ETA commenced its terrorist activity in Spain in the 1960s, before the advent of democracy, with a clear objective: obtaining the independence of a part of Spain (the Basque Country and Navarre) and France (three counties within the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques) by indiscriminate acts of terror­ism leading to over eight hundred deaths, thousands of injuries and considerable material damage, as well as through acts of extortion, threats and coercion forcing many people to move out of these regions.

With the advent of democracy, which opened the flood­gates for the activity of all parties and organisations re­gardless of their objectives and ideas, and after bene­fiting from a general amnesty in 1977, Spanish society as a whole began to hope that ETA would cease its terrorist activity. This hope was to be dashed, however, when the terrorist group not only continued the vio­lence, but actually stepped up its criminal activity.

On 8 December 2000, the centre-right Partido Popular [People's Party] and the centre-left Partido Socialista Obrero Español [Spanish Socialist Workers' Party] signed the Agreement for Liberties and against Terrorism stipulating that "the fight against terrorism corre­sponds to the Government of Spain" and expressing a "desire to remove policies to bring an end to terrorism from legitimate political or electoral confrontation between our parties". In addition, it states that "under no circumstances shall any political advantage or interest be obtained from terrorist violence". This agree­ment was ratified by the main social stakeholders and groups.

Firma del Acuerdo contra el Terrorismo (Ministerio de la Presidencia)Subsequently, on 2 January 2015, a new Agreement to Guarantee Unity in Defence of Liberties and in the Fight against Terrorism was signed by the People's Party and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party which, among other things, provides for such legislative reforms as may be necessary to update and strengthen the legal framework to allow the judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies to work more effectively in the criminal investigation of terrorist offences.

In recent years, the justice system has continued dismantling the politi­cal, institutional, financial, media and civil disobedi­ence structures that ETA had used over the past four decades, with the important backing of the European Court of Human Rights.

The robustness of the rule of law, shown by effective police and judicial action, has forced ETA to announce a permanent end to its terrorist activity. The terrorist group still exists and, through its democratic representatives, Spanish society demands its definitive and unconditional disbanding.

In the fight against terrorism, Spain is backed by the support and cooperation of other countries with ex­perience of terrorism. Cooperation with France is a benchmark in the model of international cooperation, in terms of both police and judicial activity. The two coun­tries have established joint investigation teams (Spanish acronym: ECI) to fight terrorism by ETA and radical Jihadism. Furthermore, cooperation with the authorities of the Kingdom of Morocco have proved successful through joint operations to dismantle Jihadi cells operating in the two countries which sought to carry out attacks in either country or to recruit individuals to be sent on to fight in conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq.

The European Arrest Warrant and Surrender Procedures have also become key instruments for legal cooperation and ex­tradition procedures have become faster and more ef­fective, making international cooperation a mainstay in the fight against terrorism in all shapes and forms.

Since the start of the Tenth Legislature on 14 December 2011, the present government has continued with the fight against terrorism carried on by previous governments. Terrorism in Spain has been transformed in recent years by the defeat of the terrorist group ETA, which, following its persecution by police forces both in Spain and abroad, has unilaterally declared a complete end to its armed activity, i.e. com­mitting acts of terrorism.

However, terrorism has continued in other areas. In terms of homegrown terrorism, the most important manifestations of significant terrorism activity have been seen by the Galician pro-independence groups (Resistencia Galega) and anti-establishment groups (anarchists).

In terms of Islamist and international terrorism, although no attack has taken place in Spain since 11-M, action has been taken against individuals associated with terrorism groups related to Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups such as the Turkish PKK.

As mentioned above, ETA's terrorist activity has ended but the State Law Enforcement Agencies (National Police Force and Guardia Civil) have not let up the pressure. This pressure on ETA has led to the arrest, since the start of the Tenth Legislature, of 89 members of the group: 50 in Spain, and, as a result of international police co-operation, 39 members of ETA in other countries: 27 in France, 5 in the United Kingdom, 1 in Italy, 1 en Brazil, 1 en Venezuela, 1 in Belgium, 1 in Germany and 2 in Mexico.

Acts of terrorism committed by Spanish terrorists include the placing of explosive devices in the Cathedral of the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid and the Pilar Basilica in Zarago­za by anarchists. The material authors of this last attack were arrested in Barcelona in November 2013. During this term of office, a total of 20 arrests have been made by the law enforcement agencies for anti-establishment terrorism: 1 in 2011, 5 in 2013 and 14 in 2014. The terrorist activity of the Galician pro-independence group Resistencia Galega mainly consists of placing ex­plosive devices in banks, trade union premises, job cen­tres, national political party offices (the PP, PSGA in Galicia) and communication system repeaters. During this term of office, the National Police Force and the Guardia Civil have arrested a total of 9 members of Resistencia Galega (7 in 2012, 1 in 2013 and 1 in 2014). Finally, and although their terrorist activity has now ceased and the terrorist group GRAPO has been disbanded, 4 members of GRAPO were arrested in 2012 for the kidnapping of the industrialist Publio Cordón, and one of these on another occasion for an alleged offence of stashing arms and explosives.

In the fight against Jihadi terrorism, investigations by the information services of the National Police Force and the Guardia Civil have resulted in more than 20 operations being carried out against this terrorist phenomenon, while an even greater number of investigations under way remain open. These operations, both those undertaken by individual agencies and joint operations, have resulted in the arrest in Spain during the Tenth Legislature of a total of 62 individuals associated with Jihadi activities. Of these, worthy of mention are more than a dozen operations against groups engaged in the recruitment and dispatch of combatants to Syria/Iraq and Mali, with particular reference to the joint operation carried out by the National Police Force and the Guardia Civil in September 2013 against a group that operated between the Autonomous City of Ceuta and the town of Fnideq (Morocco), resulting in 9 arrests in Ceuta and 1 in Belgium.

Also worthy of mention is international cooperation, above all with the Kingdom of Morocco, which has resulted in the arrest of another 11 individuals associated with Jihadi terrorism (10 in 2014 and 1 in 2015). Arrests made overseas include 6 in Morocco, 1 in Luxembourg, 3 in Bulgaria and 1 in Turkey.

Finally, investigations into terrorism by the State law enforcement agencies have led to the arrest of 7 members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) in various towns and villages in Spain (6 in 2013 and 1 in 2014).

Crime rates in Spain

The figures on criminal conduct published by the Ministry of Home Affairs on a quarterly basis through a Criminal Conduct Report, deal with specific security indicators that include different categories. This classification was modified as from the month of September 2015. Accordingly, the following crime indicators have now been introduced into the Crime Figures: Serious and Minor Criminal Offences (EU), Murder and Intentional Homicide (EU), Robbery with Violence and Intimidation (EU), Aggravated Burglary (EU), Theft of a Motor Vehicle (EU), Drug Trafficking (EU) and Damage and Theft.

This modification to the security indicators derives from the changes implemented by the Statistical Office of the European Union (EUROSTAT). These changes were prompted by decisions adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 46th session and by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, at its 24th session, held in the months of March and May 2015 respectively. Specifically, these commissions approved the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS), in other words, an international statistical regulation for the gathering of data which will lead to improved comparisons at a European Union and United Nations level.

The ICCS is thus formed as a structure to classify criminal offences, with the aim of its approval being to improve international coherency and comparability of statistics on crime and increase the ability for analysis at both a national and an international level.

Furthermore, the latest legislative reforms approved in our country, specifically Constitutional Laws 1 and 2 of 2015, amending Constitutional Law 10/1995 on the Criminal Code, have had a clear repercussion on crime statistics. The most important of these has undoubtedly been the elimination of summary offences, transforming some of them into minor criminal offences, while others now fall under the administrative or civil jurisdictions.

Accordingly, and as a result of the different legislative reforms and new statistical practices on crime undertaken by European and international bodies, the corresponding adaptations to the System of Crime Statistics (Spanish acronym: SEC) have been introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The aim of this is to obtain an accurate interpretation of the statistical information on crime in our country which is comparable with the security indictors of EUROSTAT and at an international level.

In 2015, a total of 2,035,625 serious offences and summary offences were reported in Spain, 2.7% down on 2014, when the figure amounted to 2,092,040. The total recorded by the law enforcement agencies means the crime rate stands at 43.7 offences per 1,000 inhabitants. This rate has fallen by 1 percentage point on 2014, as a result of a decline in the number of recorded offences. 2014 also recorded a decline in the crime rate on 2013 of 3.6%.

Although it is complicated to harmonise and compare data when referring to countries with quite distinct forms of legislation, we can find an indicator that is fairly independent from local circumstances, which allows us to measure the level of violence in a more homogeneous manner. This indicator records murder and intentional homicide. On this issue, the average rate in the EU is 1.02 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, while in Spain this stands at 0.65.

Agentes de la Guardia Civil (Ministerio del Interior)This comparison with our peer countries leads us to claim that Spain is a safe country, evidence of which is the continued increase in inbound tourists, thus placing Spanish citizen safety as a particularly relevant and important factor which contributes to heighten satisfaction levels of international tourists visiting our country.

The markedly downward curve of the crime index is reflected in the security indicators mentioned above. This reduction can be significantly appreciated in drug trafficking (down 10.1%), theft of a motor vehicle (down 9.4%), robbery with violence and intimidation (down 8.2%), murder and homicide (down 6.2%) and aggravated burglary (down 6.1%).

These objectives figures on the reduction in the crime rate in Spain are reflected in the growing feeling of public safety by Spanish citizens. The positive state of the perception of public insecurity has been shown over recent years in the lowest values ever recorded for the whole historic series in the various different surveys (CIS, Eurobarometer).

Fighting organised crime and corruption in Spain

The work carried out by the State law enforcement agencies in Spain (the Spanish National Police Force, the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Regional Police Forces) to combat organised crime is coordinated by the Centre of Intelligence against Terrorism and Organised Crime (Spanish acronym: CITCO).

CITCO is the agency that receives, integrates and analyses all the strategic information available at any given time on terrorism, organised crime and violent radical movements. It generates strategic and prospective intelligence to offer a constantly updated assessment of these threats while proposing and coordinating national strategies to combat them. It also establishes the criteria for action and operational coordination between the various agencies in the event of overlapping or duplicate investigations into these phenomena.

According to the criteria established by EUROPOL regulations, the following characteristics must coincide for an organisation to be considered as engaged in organised crime:

  • Collaboration between more than two people

  • Prolonged or indefinite action

  • Commission of serious offences

  • Search for profit or power

At least two of the following characteristics must also be present:

  • Specific distribution of tasks

  • Application of internal control of any nature

  • International scope to their activity

  • Use of violence

  • Involvement in money laundering

  • Use of economic or commercial structures

  • Corruption of public authorities or companies

Organised crime groups can be classified into one of three separate groups: high-intensity; standard; and low-intensity.

In 2015, the Spanish State law enforcement agencies (Spanish National Police Force, Spanish Guardia Civil and the Regional Police Forces) arrested 5,936 people, investigated 18,463 people and identified 445 organised crime groups, of which 274 were completely dismantled (62%) and 158 were partially dismantled (35%). 80% of these groups have been operating for less than three years, 68% comprise people of more than one nationality and 19% comprise only Spaniards. Furthermore, 65% of the groups operated internationally and 60% were detected during the course of 2015.

It is important to stress that either total or partial action has been taken against 97% of the organised crime groups, demonstrating excellent police effectiveness in Spain in the fight against this phenomenon. It should also be noted that 62% of these groups were fully dismantled.

Ministerio del Interior

As regards their main activities, 28% of these groups were engaged in cocaine trafficking (123), 21% in hashish trafficking (95), 16% in armed robberies (69), 11% in scams (48), 8% in aggravated robbery and robbery with intimidation (34), 6% in people trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes (25), 5% in synthetic drug trafficking (23), 5% in money laundering (21) and 4% in heroin trafficking (18). It should be said that some of these criminal groups are involved in more than one criminal activity.

The Spanish State law enforcement agencies seized a total of 1,657 vehicles, 153 boats, 10 aircraft, 309 firearms, 433 weapons, 899 computers, 6,455 mobile telephones, 169 properties and 26.5 million euros. The minimum estimated value of all the assets seized from organised crime - excluding drugs - amounts to 128,717,000 euros.

As regards the drugs seized from these groups, 17,584 kilos of cocaine were seized (representing 80% of the total cocaine seized in Spain), 190,882 kilos of hashish (representing about 50% of all the hashish seized in Spain), 173 kilos of heroin and 145 kilos of speed. When compared with 2014, cocaine and hashish seizures have increased by 8% and heroine seizures by over 20%.

The amounts seized in 2015 by the Spanish State law enforcement agencies represent 70% of all the hashish seized in the European Union and 23% of the volume seized worldwide. The volume of cocaine seized during the last legislature represents 43% of all the cocaine seized in the EU and 5% of the volume sized worldwide.

Furthermore, the total cocaine seized either at sea or in ports and airports represents approximately 62% of all the cocaine seized in Spain, thereby demonstrating that Spain stands as a barrier against illegal drug trafficking.

During the 10th Legislature (2011-2015), over 69,000 people were investigated due to ties with organised crime. Of those, 25,000 were arrested.

Over the course of these four years, the number of investigations has increased from 16,642 in 2012 to 18,436 in 2015. In terms of the number of arrests, the figure remained steady at about 6,000 per year; specifically, from 6,460 in 2012 to a total of 5,936 in 2015.

Since the Centre of Intelligence against Terrorism and Organised Crime (CITCO) was set up in October 2014, over 250 links have been found between people mainly associated with drug trafficking or money laundering and Jihadi terrorism.

Ministerio del Interior

Organised criminal activity in Spain is mainly concentrated in Madrid and Barcelona, along the Mediterranean coast and the Galician coast, although these groups do not limit their activity to only one province.

Besides Madrid and Barcelona, such other provinces as Valencia, Alicante, Malaga and Cadiz are important in this regard, followed by Seville and Murcia and A Coruña, Pontevedra, Toledo, Granada and Tarragona, among others.

Fighting corruption in Spain

The number of arrests has steadily increased since 2010, broken only by the noticeable increase in 2014 to 2,743. Whereas 389 people were arrested for corruption in Spain in 2010, a total of 2,442 arrests were made in 2015.

The same can be said of the total cases known to the State law enforcement agencies in Spain. The number of investigations has risen from 366 in 2010 to over 1,000 in 2015 (1,108 to be precise).

During the course of the 10th Legislature, almost 40 different types of criminal activity with links to corruption were detected in Spain. The most common type of corruption to go unnoticed is fraud against the Social Security system (representing 16.3% of the total), together with fraud against the public treasury (8.1%). This activity affects everyone in the country, even though we might not be aware of it.

Furthermore, it is worth highlighting bribery (12.5%), administrative misconduct (9.8%), embezzlement (8.2%) and corporate crime (4.6%), among others.

During the course of the 10th Legislature, fraud against the Social security system accounted for a total of 530 offences, money laundering accounted for 138 offences, bribery for 407 offences, administrative misconduct for 320 offences, fraud against the public treasury accounted for 263 offences and corporate crime for a total of 151 offences, among others.

Ministerio del Interior

The fight against fraud in Spain in 2015

The Spanish National Police Force and the Spanish Guardia Civil investigated 6,488 companies in 2015, 2,057 companies were proposed for criminal proceedings, 847 fictitious businesses were detected, 11,424 workplaces were inspected, 4,616 administrative infringements were detected against the Spanish Immigration Act and, finally, the fraud detected in 2015 exceeded 79 million euros.

Such other ministerial departments as the Ministry of the Treasury and Public Administration Services and the Ministry of Employment and Social Security took part in the efforts to combat fraud. The Government of Spain and the Ministry of Home Affairs have fought against fraud with forcefulness and determination since the start of the 10th Legislature (2011-2015) and the State law enforcement agencies have used all their resources to make Spain a safer country.

Fighting illegal immigration

Since the start of this legislature, the Ministry of Home Affairs has worked very actively on immigration mat­ters and foreign affairs, especially in relation to the fight against illegal immigration and human traffick­ing networks, covering various lines of action.

2015, from the point of view of border control, is the year in which the largest number of illegal border crossings to the EU has been detected, with figures in excess of 1.8 million arrests on external borders. In terms of illegal immigrants reaching the Spanish coast, 2015 posted a 16.7% increase, with 5,312 interceptions, despite strong prevailing migratory pressure and very different figures from those being recorded in the rest of the Mediterranean.

These results are the consequence of a combination of two main factors: the work of the State law enforcement agencies and cooperation with the main countries of origin and transit of this type of illegal immigration. Noteworthy is Spain's cooperation with Mo­rocco, a country with which the Ministry of Home Affairs began working in 2013 in a particular collaboration in facilitating the voluntary return of ille­gal immigrants on Spanish territory under a programme launched by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Atención a inmigrantes recién llegados (Ministerio del Interior)Since the Atlantic-African route was cut off, Morocco has become the main base for the launch of those seeking to illegally cross to Spain, Consequently, the presence of Sub-Saharans distributed throughout various camps in the northern part of the country, together with the migratory movements from Syria, explains the high migratory pressure registered in the areas surrounding Ceuta and Melilla.

The phenomenon of immigration from Syria, non-existent in 2013, has considerably increased in 2015, particularly in Melilla. Applications for asylum made by citizens from Syria have increased by similar proportions.

On another note, during the course of this legislature, the repatriation policy undertaken by the Ministry of Home Affairs has been focused on police action on immigration issues in terms of so-called 'qualified expulsions' for those foreigners that commit criminal offences, rather than "harassing" those who are merely in an irregular situation.

It can be asserted that the control exercised by Spain has reached such levels on maritime routes that it has limited the possibilities of these criminal gangs using illegal immigration networks to reach the spanish coasts, and, seeing their routes of action closed off, they have been forced to look for other means of entry.

In light of this new reality, organised criminal networks focused their efforts in 2015 on trying our new modus operandi, attempting to reactivate the routes from Southern Morroco and Western Sahara towards the Canary Islands.

Finally, it should be pointed out that although citizen perception of immigration as a problematic issue has increased in 2015 (in November 2014, 2.8% considered immigration as a problem compared with 7.7% in 2015), this increase is mainly due to the international migratory situation (the crisis caused by the war in Syria, the mass arrival of migrants on European borders, etc).

Traffic and Road Safety Agency

The Traffic and Road Safety Agency (Spanish acronym: DGT), an agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is competent in the management and implementation of road safety and sustainable mobility policies in Spain.

Spain is in fifth place of countries with the lowest accident rate in the world with a figure of 36 deaths in traffic accidents per million inhabitants, which was below the European average of 51 in 2014. This rate means Spain has achieved its target established in the Strategic Plan for 2020 seven years ahead of time.

The number of deaths from traffic accidents in 2015 once again stood at an all-time minimum. Specifically, the preliminary data in relation to inter-city roads recorded 1,126 deaths in Spain. This figure is in fact much lower than that recorded in 1960, the first year for which statistics are available, with 1,300 deaths recorded, against an entirely different scenario of mobility (1 million vehicles compared with more than 31 million in 2015).

Moreover, 2015 was a year in which the number of long-distance road trips increased. 374 million such trips were recorded, 14 million more than the previous year, and the number of inbound tourists to Spain broke the all-time record.

Despite these positive figures, the DGT continues to work to achieve a zero-target: zero injuries, zero traffic jams, zero pollution, zero debt and enhanced competitiveness.

The DGT is aware that reducing the current figures is no mean feat and that it needs to promote effective road safety policies based on sci­entific evidence for this, policies that consider the various sectors involved and effectively engage their agents, both public and private, in reducing road ac­cident figures.

The DGT initiated various actions during the course of the year, not only in regulatory terms, such as through the passing of the Traffic, Motor Vehicles Circulation and Road Safety Act but also through the generation of a better understanding of the factors that increase the risk of an accident and its final outcome in coordination with other road safety institutions, both at the national and EU level.

Centro de control de tráfico de la DGT (Ministerio del Interior)

In 2015, the DGT started to issue traffic tickets to vehicle owners from other countries that committed traffic offences in Spain, thanks to the transposition of the Cross-border Directive on information in the field of traffic offences into the recast text of the Spanish law. As a result of this transposition, a new model of sanctioning policy at a European level has been introduced with the guiding aim of avoiding the impunity of drivers when they commit a traffic offence in an EU State other than their own.

The European Modular System (EMS) of long vehicles, better known as mega trucks of up to 60 tonnes, with a maximum length of 25.5 metres, has been regulated under the General Vehicle Regulation. The aim has been to drive competitiveness and efficiency both of companies requiring transportation and transport companies while taking steps towards the gradual harmonisation of the traffic conditions established in our country with our peer countries. Driving 'autonomous vehicles' in our country has also come under regulation in a clear commitment to the future and in a highly novel fashion, even for Europe.

The amendments to the regulation of alcohol and drugs under the Traffic and Road Safety Act have led to testing for psychoactive substances becoming widespread for drivers during 2015, with a total of more than 75,000 tests being performed. 59% of drivers that had committed a traffic offence tested positive for illegal drugs, together with 33% of drivers tested in preventive controls.

The DGT provided local police forces with 10,000 drug-detection devices and training to control the consumption of these substances and driving skills in urban areas. The idea is that municipalities should also contribute towards a 'zero tolerance' policy on drugs and alcohol.

In order to make progress on identifying appropriate actions and the specific groups to which preventive measures should be addressed, the DGT has conducted an in-depth study into all aspects related to serious injury and the factors contributing to accidents, such as the age of vehicles and the roads themselves.

In the last two years, an effort has been made to increase awareness of the accident rates according to the location of the accident with the aim of collaborating with the owners/operators of the corresponding roads to tackle, as far as possible, those actions that could be most effective and have the greatest impact on reducing the accident rate.

To achieve this, the most dangerous stretches of secondary roads for driving have been identified and published; speed control radars have been installed at these locations, the tolerance threshold of these devices has been unified throughout all the territory under the control of the DGT to avoid geographic discrimination and informative methods have been applied so that these radars distinguish between different types of vehicle and check whether traffic vehicles carry the obligatory automobile insurance and current MOT.

Progress has also been made on ascertaining the quality of our information systems, particularly regarding notifying accidents in municipal areas. The implementation of the National Register of Victims of Traffic Accidents and the notification of accidents with victims by the competent public authorities are fundamental tools for ascertaining the number of accidents and their causes and thus for making progress on improving road safety.

Another important task being undertaken by this body is the implementation of IT pro­jects offering citizens a telematic service through which they can carry out many administrative procedures at any time and any location. From among all these, worthy of mention is the implementation of the electronic MOT card to replace the paper document, another unique initiative that hugely expedites administrative formalities associated with the purchase or transfer of a motor vehicle.

The tasks necessary to extend the portfolio of post-accident care services for victims is also being developed to help reduce secondary victimisation and to document psycho-physical after-effects.

The evolution of road accidents in Spain and the ongoing work of all the parties involved in this has been decisive in the DGT being elected through a competitive basis of award from among other European countries to offer advice to Algeria for two years on the issue of road safety, thus becoming a benchmark institution in the field of road safety at an international level.

Moreover, it is the first Spanish public authority to be granted two AENOR certifications, one as a provider of information on mobility, and another for its Labour Road Safety Management System implemented through the authority's central services.

Directorate-General of Civil Protection and Emergencies

The Directorate-General of Civil Protection and Emergencies, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Public Works, continues to make progress in all aspects that affect the concept of civil protection as the body that provides comprehensive action on the part of the public authorities for the physical protection of individuals and goods in the event of a situation of serious collective risk, public calamity or extraordinary disaster. It has done this by pushing through new integrated actions, extending legislation and developing new coordination tools.


The most ambitious project at a legislative level has undoubtedly been the drafting and approval of the new National System for Civil Protection Act, or Law 17/2015, of 9 July, which provides our country with one of the most robust and advanced systems of civil protection.

With the experience acquired over more than 30 years and the incorporation of the latest technological developments, the law adapts to the reality of Spain and to European legislation. This is an inclusive regulation that brings together all parties that contribute to civil protection at a municipal, regional and national level.

This law was designed with a view to benefitting our citizens and with a vocation for consensus thanks to the collaboration and support of all the system's stakeholders.

Centro Nacional de Seguimiento y Coordinación de Emergencias de Proteccion Civil (Ministerio del Interior)

On the one hand, the Ministry of Home Affairs drafted a Framework Partnership Agreement in 2014 on managing emergencies together with the regional governments which, over the course of 2015, has been signed up to by practically all the regional governments and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

Furthermore, over the course of the year, a common communication system has been maintained and improved to manage the resources necessary when faced with an emergency, and training programmes, practical exercises and technical workshops have been designed. The aim is to increase cooperation between the Directorate-General of Civil Protection and the competent regional bodies, as well as to guarantee the principle of inter-regional solidarity and the protection of individuals, goods and the environment in the event of an emergency.

At a level of prevention and planning for different risks, the Directorate-General has pushed through, among other initiatives, an updated version of the State Civil Protection Plan for Emergencies from Forest Fires, through a resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers on 24 October 2014.

Royal Decree 840/2015, of 21 September 2015 was published, approving new measures to control risks inherent to serious accidents involving dangerous substances.

Furthermore, Draft Basic Guidelines on Civil Protection Planning when facing a Risk of Tidal Waves (Royal Decree 1053/2015, of 20 November 2015) was drafted, together with a State Civil Protection Plan for Radiological Risks (Royal Decree 1054/2015, of 20 November 2015).

A Coordination Protocol for Assistance to Victims of Civil Aviation Accidents and their Families was developed which, for the first time, was activated on the occasion of the Germanwings air incident.


At an operational level, various national campaigns were coordinated by the Directorate-General of Civil Protection, such as those for Forest Fires, Operation Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and Winter Road Safety, which turned out to be particularly intense in 2015.

During the 2015 Forest Fire Campaign, a total surface area of 103,000 hectares of land was burnt, a slightly lower figure than the average over the last decade. The abnormal absence of precipitation and high temperatures in the regions of Cantabria and Navarre in the month of December, with close on 30,000 hectares burnt, unfortunately contributed very significantly to this figure following a summer that was also conducive to the outbreak of fires.

Operation Crossing the Strait 2015 was one of the most fluid operations ever since this operation started to be coordinated by the Directorate-General, despite the fact that a total of 2,810,338 citizens from the Maghreb and 628,287 vehicles crossed Spain, representing increases of 10.3% and 5.6% respectively on 2014.

This fluidity is mainly down to the excellent coordination between the bodies involved under the General State Administration and regional and local bodies, and their positive response reactions. Similarly, the operation was carried out in close collaboration with the Moroccan authorities, with whom they held periodic meetings through a Mixed Commission, which worked in perfect harmony.

Finally, the Winter Road Safety Campaign only suffered one spell of cold weather and snow in the month of February, which affected access to the region of Cantabria from the plateau, resulting in about 100 vehicles becoming trapped or delayed for a few hours, requiring their vehicles to be rescued, which was performed by the Military Emergency Unit with collaboration from the Traffic Unit of the Guardia Civil, with the occupants of the vehicle accommodated in the town of Aguilar de Campo while this operation was carried out.

Aid and subsidies to alleviate damage caused by natural disasters

From a hydro-meteorological perspective, the spells that caused the most harm to people and goods in 2015 were the rain and wind storms, high sea waves and extreme winter phenomena that led to serious damage to many parts of the country, in particular to the north of the mainland and to the Balearic Islands. Furthermore, the River Ebro burst its banks twice, causing numerous floods.

At the end of 2015, strong rain storms caused serious damage in the Canary Islands and to the south and east of the mainland in the months of September and October.

Within the framework of the actions to rebuild those areas affected by these phenomena in order for them to return to normality, the government approved the opportune royal decree-laws on urgent measures to alleviate this damage and set up the corresponding Inter-ministerial Monitoring Committees, coordinated by the Directorate-General of Civil Protection and Emergencies, with representation from the corresponding ministerial departments.

Each one of the regulations approved sought to include measures adapted to the type of damage caused by the distinct disasters. Accordingly, aid for commercial establishments was once again contained in these royal decree-laws that were affected on an exceptional basis by flooding and rainstorm damage. This form of aid was introduced for the first time under royal decree-law back in 2014.

The flooding caused by the River Ebro bursting its banks mainly affected agricultural smallholdings, and hence - in the legislation approved - aid was included for the owners of these smallholdings, and aid was maintained for commercial establishments. In this regard, the Ministry of Home Affairs may grant subsidies to the owners of the holdings of up to 70% of the damage valued by chartered loss adjusters, up to a maximum amount of 8,000 euros, provided that the owners have policies covered under the combined Agricultural Insurance Plan. These same lines of aid were included in the legislation approved to repair the damage caused by the rainstorms in the Canary Islands and in the south and east of the mainland in the months of September and October.

National Civil Protection School

The public authorities, taking on the obligation to improve the technical abilities of the personnel of the National Civil Protection System, as provided for in the National Civil Protection System Act, have developed the training activities to be taught by the National Civil Protection School.

The National Civil Protection School, as the structural mechanism for specialised training and the training of senior officials, has developed the following activities:

  • To train the personnel of the distinct Civil Protection services of the General State Administration and of other public and private institutions, through the corresponding agreements, as the case may be, and of individuals from other bodies that are of interest to the National Civil Protection System. It may make the corresponding agreements with other public authorities to train the personnel of these authorities.
  • To develop R&D+i actions in the area of training for Civil Protection personnel.
  • To collaborate with the Civil Protection training centres of other public authorities, as well as with training activities provided for within the framework of the Civil Protection Mechanism of the European Union and of other European initiatives to foster the interoperability of teams and services.
  • Teach training activities to other States or foreign and international institutions.

During the course of 2015, the training plan included 181 training activities, with a total of 4,269 training hours and a total of 7,059 student places. This was focused in a comprehensive manner, seeking to promote joint and coordinated actions between the General State Administration, regional governments and local authorities in the different fields.

Cooperation with Ibero-American countries occupies a leading position in the activities of the school. To that end, and in collaboration with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spanish acronym: AECID), five courses were given in 2015 within the framework of the International Specialised Technical Training Programme (Spanish acronym: PIFTE), three at AECID centres in Ibero-America, and two at the school's facilities, which included the running and training of specialists from the Directorate-General of Civil Protection and Emergencies.

Fachada de la sede de la Escuela Nacional de Protección Civil en Rivas Vaciamadrid (Ministerio del Interior)A collaboration programme exists with Portugal, on which work has been done to develop two desktop exercises in 2016 and a workshop on collaboration in cross-border forest fires, in which professionals and authorities from the two countries established the bases for closer collaboration on this matter. Work was also done with the French Academy for Fire, Rescue and Civil Protection Officers (French acronym: ENSOSP) to develop joint training programmes.

Furthermore, training sessions, workshops in collaboration with other institutions, visits and meeting were held at the school's facilities, both at a national and an international level.

Publication activity and dissemination of information to the public

The Documentation Centre of the Directorate-General edited 17 publications, all of them available on the Internet, with an institutional distribution of 5,968 copies in paper and electronic format, and 2,267 copies designed for courses, visits and other departmental needs.

Aula, the Homsec Security Trade Fair and the School Self-Defence Week were some of the forums at which the Directorate-General was present, with a significant dissemination of published materials.

In addition, the Press Office of the Directorate-General issued more than 130 informative notes for the public, maintaining a broad publication of different messages and preventive recommendations through its web page and on social networks, which can be found at the Ministry of Home Affairs account @interiorgob.

International activity

Finally, it is important to highlight the role that the Directorate-General of Civil Protection and Emergencies plays on the international stage, particularly strengthening its presence and participation at international forums and improving cooperation with our peer countries.

In this regard, worthy of mention is its participation as the coordinator of Spanish representation at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai (Japan) from 14 to 18 March 2015, which established the Framework of Action for the next 15 years in terms of reducing the risk of disasters.

The Spanish delegation, headed up by the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, played an active role in the ministerial panels, in the high-level dialogue and at the Plenary Session of the Conference.

At the level of the European Union, the Directorate-General of Civil Protection and Emergencies developed the 'West Tsunami' Project, a Spanish initiative approved by the European Commission in 2014, which consisted of the organisation and execution of an international exercise in command positions and communication instruments to test out the response capacity of national control centres in the hypothetical event of a tsunami in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, similar to the one in Lisbon in 1755. The Directorates-General of Civil Protection of Spain, Morocco and Portugal all took part in this exercise, together with a team from the European Commission and a group of observers from various European and neighbouring countries.

In terms of bilateral relations, 2015 continued to see work done to increase the channels of collaboration with countries in the Maghreb. To this end, the Mixed Spain-Algeria Commission on Civil Protection was set up with the aim of facilitating the exchange of experiences and information between the respective National Civil Protection Systems and establishing the ways in which mutual support could be provided in the event of an emergency.

Bilateral relations are also maintained with other States, particularly noteworthy in 2015 being the eighth meeting of the Mixed Spain-Russia Commission on cooperation on Civil Protection, which was strengthened by the participation at the International Congress on Disaster Risk Management which took place in 2015 in Moscow, and the Mixed Spain-Portugal Commission on the exchange of training and information and to step up cross-border cooperation.

General Secretariat for Penitentiary Institutions

The penitentiary institution is a key element in the security and social intervention policies of a country. An effective response can only be given which increases citizen security and liberty through the creation of treatment, re-education and rehabilitation facilities for people who have committed a crime. Hence, in a country with such decentralised powers in the regions, penitentiary policy remains the exclusive competence of the General State Administration, except in Catalonia, a region which has had these powers transferred since the1980s.

Against this backdrop, the State develops its penitentiary policy through the General Secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions, a department under the umbrella of the Ministry of Home Affairs. This General Secretariat is made up of 68 centres under a closed regime, two psychiatric centres and 13 independent social insertion centres, with a prison population of close on 53,000 and a workforce in excess of 24,300 public servants.

Torre de vigilancia de un centro penitenciario en España (Ministerio del Interior)

Seven sub-general directorates depend, in turn, on the General Secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions (Penitentiary Treatment and Management, Institutional Relations and Territorial Coordination, Penitentiary Inspection, Penitentiary Healthcare Coordination, Sentences and Alternative Methods, Human Resources and Penitentiary Services) and a State public law body.

During this legislature, the decline in the prison population has been one of the most significant achievements made, falling from 59,872 inmates in the final week of 2011 to 52,991 inmates in the final week of December 2015. In other words, the prison population fell by 6,881 inmates over these four years.

The number of foreign inmates has had a particular importance in this significant reduction in the number of inmates, as a result of the implementation of repatriation measures provided for in criminal and penitentiary legislation (transfer of convicts, expulsions, parole in the country of origin…). As is only right, this policy is of an ongoing nature thanks to the reforms undertaken during the transposition, including Framework Decision 2008/909. This European regulation allows for EU inmates that are due to serve out their sentence in Spanish territory to do so in their country of origin, even without them wishing to do so when certain requirements are met. Moreover, the new Criminal Code, which came into force on 1 July 2015, provides for the expulsion of any foreign inmate without the need for the requirement of their unlawful presence being met.

Another of the milestones of this legislature has been the eradication of very serious incidents in prisons. The stepping up of the effective policy of distribution of inmates, separately internally and with each and every one of the internal security measures as provided for in our penitentiary legislation has led to the disappearance of hostage taking, mass protests and riots.

Over this period, the penitentiary authorities have also offered a response to the phenomenon of Jihadi terrorism. To achieve this, a programme has been implemented geared towards detecting and preventing the possible radicalisation in prison of inmates from countries where a majority profess the Muslim faith.

Furthermore, specific programmes have been promoted to intervene with inmates with drug addiction problems, through a system of treatment in educational therapeutic units (Spanish acronym: UTE). During this legislature, UTEs have been set up in 10 penitentiary centres in addition to those already in existence at the start. Programmes for treating gender-based violence offenders in order to provide victims with the security and dignity they require have also been pushed through.

Work is being done at this time to adapt penitentiary management to the numerous legislative reforms adopted in 2014 and 2015, which particularly affect the way in which the sentence is served out (Law 23/2014, Constitutional Law 1/2015, on the reform of the Criminal Code, Constitutional Law 4/2015 on the Statute on the Victims of Crime) and which demand their corresponding reflection in penitentiary regulations.


The implementation of telemedicine at certain centres is another of the achievements of this legislature. Although a priori this may appear to be more costly for the institution, it represents a saving for the State Law Enforcement Agencies, provides a swifter service and greater security to society by avoiding unnecessary transfers of people deprived of their liberty.

The penitentiary institution has also formed a part of the Institutional Committee of the National Strategy on Hepatitis C, with the general aim of ensuring equality in access to new therapies for this infectious disease.

In relation to Sentences and Alternative Measures, the following new action plans are being developed this year:

  • Programme to intervene in Family/Domestic Violence
  • Pro-social/Crime Prevention Programme
  • Programme to intervene through alternative measures with sex offenders and child molesters
  • Programme to intervene on road safety (Spanish acronym: PROSEVAL)
  • Programme to intervene to tackle child pornography on the Internet
  • Programme to intervene to tackle gender-based violence offenders through alternative measures

Meanwhile, the State public law body - Penitentiary Work and Job Training - has exceeded its two goals by considerable margins:

  • To manage job training and career advice through courses and programme that update, maintain and develop those professional subjects and job skills held by inmates prior to being sent to prison or to begin to teach them these skills.
  • Provide inmates with a remunerated job, with National Insurance benefits, in productive areas of the centre. In turn, this productive employment provides coverage for the rest of the prison population in basic day-to-to-day needs, such as food, commissary services, maintenance, laundry services, infirmary, etc.

Against this backdrop, a total of 851 training actions for employment took place in 2014, with the participation of 14,510 students, of which 9% were women. As part of this exercise, 54 training and career guidance programmes were carried out, with the participation of 828 inmates, of which 11% were women.

This body has developed a labour market insertion plan which provides individual support and accompaniment to inmates starting out on the journey to freedom or out on parole. In 2014, 2,674 inmates benefitted from this scheme. The average number of inmates working in penitentiary workshops in 2015 stood at 12,300.