General Information

Admission to the OSCE:  25 June 1973

OSCE Chairmanship in 1999

Policing overview: In the Federal Republic of Germany the responsibility for maintenance of public security and order is divided between the 16 federal states (Bundeslaender) and the Republic. The main policing bodies are the Federal Police (Bundespolizei), the State Police (Laenderpolizei) and the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt).

Federal Police

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Structure and organization
4. Staff data
5. Education / Training

1. General information
The Federal Police (Bundespolizei or BPOL) is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and carries out extensive and manifold police duties based on a modern police law (Federal Police Act) and numerous other laws. Policing services were re-organized in the year 1998, and re-titled Federal Police (Bundespolizei, BPOL) on July 1st, 2005 (previously called Federal Border Guards - Bundesgrenzschutz or BGS). The BPOL closely collaborates within the existing security networks on the basis of security co-operation and partnerships with the police services of the federal states, other security authorities of the federation and the federal states, as well as with foreign border authorities.

2. Functions and missions
The main functions of the Federal Police are to:

  • ensure border security, including coast guard services;
  • protect federal buildings and foreign embassies in the capital of Berlin and the former capital of Bonn, as well as the two highest German courts: the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal High Court in Karlsruhe;
  • provide the federal government's mobile response force for internal security events;
  • ensure security at international airports and on the German railways;
  • provide counter-terrorism forces (GSG9), and
  • serve as air (or sky) marshals.

The Federal Police can also be used to reinforce the state police if requested to do so by a state government. They conduct criminal investigations only within their sphere of jurisdiction; otherwise, cases are referred to the appropriate state police service or to the national criminal investigative agency, the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt).

3. Structure and organization
The five Federal Police Regional Headquarters in Bad Bramstedt, Berlin, Fuldatal, Munich, and Sankt Augustin are directly subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior as regionally competent federal intermediate authorities. Other authorities, with central duties, are the Federal Police Central Bureau, located in Koblenz, and the Federal Police Academy, located in Lübeck.
Moreover, as federal sub-authorities under the direction of the federal police headquarters, a total of 19 police district offices are set up all over the country, including the Federal Police Sea, the maritime component at the Federal Police Headquarters North.

4. Staff data
As of 2006, the total number of staff numbered about 40,000 , of whom 30,000 were fully trained police officers:

  • 21,000 provide border, railway and aviation security;
  •   6,000 serve in the mobile units as standby police;
  •   3,000 serve in special units (Aviation Service, GSG 9, Central Office for Information and Communication) and other organizations.

Some 6,800 civil servants perform administrative and support services while about 2,000 serve in the Individual Service which handles border/immigration matters and flight passenger checks, similar to US Immigration or US Customs inspectors.

5. Education / Training
The Federal Police Academy in Lübeck is the central instruction and education institution of the Federal Police. Moreover, it supports the five Federal Police Basic and Advanced Training Centres of the respective regional headquarters in their decentralized instruction and continued training.

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State Police

1. General information
2. Structure and organization

1. General information
The federation is divided into 16 federal states (Laender), each with its own state police, and each organized differently, since police duties fall within the jurisdiction of the federal states as laid down in Germany's Constitution.

2. Structure and organization
For the execution of police duties, the state police services are divided up basically into the following areas, which are more or less the same in all states:

  • The State Criminal Police Office (Landeskriminalamt) deals with issues of  state security, unlawful trafficking in firearms and explosives; serious cases of illegal drug trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, white-collar crime, and stolen works of art. It serves as a central agency for criminal investigation analysis, data processing, special training, and co-ordination of investigations;
  • The State Police Service prevents and prosecutes petty crime and serves as traffic police;
  • The Emergency Police / Stand-by Police is deployed as an entire unit in response to requests for general support and to assist the Federal Criminal Police Office on the occasion of State visits, mass demonstrations, major sporting events, international fairs, and natural disasters;
  • The Waterways Police control traffic on the country's domestic waterways, monitoring in particular the transport of hazardous material and/or dangerous goods;
  • The Air Wings are aerial units deployed for tasks such as traffic surveillance. They also support local police offices in crime prevention and suppression;
  • The Special Weapons and Tactics Units (Sondereinsatzkommandos) and Mobile Surveillance Units (Mobile Einsatzkommandos) are organized and managed differently in each of the individual federal states, but, in general, they are used to deal with cases of very serious crime or for special surveillance.

For further information on the organization of the 16 state police services, please refer to the Links section below.

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Federal Criminal Police Office

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Structure and organization
4. Staff data
5. Education / Training

1. General information
The Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt or BKA) is the central office for co-operation between the federation and the federal states in all criminal police matters.  It also serves as  the central office for police information and intelligence, and for the criminal police, and constitutes the National Central Bureau of the Federal Republic of Germany for the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO-Interpol).

2. Functions and missions
The responsibilities of the Federal Criminal Police Office include:

  • Official relations of the police forces of both levels – federal and state - with foreign police and justice authorities, as well as with other relevant public bodies;
  • Assistance to federal and state police forces to prevent and prosecute criminal offences of inter-regional or international importance, or of considerable significance;
  • Police tasks related to criminal prosecution;
  • Protection of members of constitutional organs;
  • Protection of witnesses, their families or close associates.

 3. Structure and organization
Since January 2005, the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt or BKA) has been re-organized into nine divisions (i.e International Co-ordination, State Security, Serious and Organized Crime, Protection Division, Central CID Services, Institute of Law Enforcement Studies and Training, Forensic Science Institute, Information Technology, and Central and Administrative Affairs). It is headed by a President assisted by two Vice Presidents.

4. Staff data
Over 5,500 members of staff work in the Federal Criminal Police Office at the three different locations – Wiesbaden, Berlin, and Meckenheim near Bonn. Approximately 50% of them are fully trained criminal police officers, while the rest are drawn from 70 different occupational groups. One third are civil servants, 11 % are administrative and ‘other’ officers, and 6 % are manual labourers. The percentage of women working for the Federal Criminal Police Office is 34.8 %.

5. Education / Training
Training of BKA criminal police officers is provided at the Federal College of Public Administration. The Federal Criminal Police Office also offers apprenticeships in ten different vocations.

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Training Academy for Senior Police

Training of candidates for senior posts in the uniformed and criminal police of the 16 federal states as well as the federation is provided by the Training Academy for Senior Police (Polizei-Fuehrungsakademie, PFA) in Muenster (see Attachments section for a summary on the functions and missions of the PFA). This Academy is in the process of being transformed into the German Police University (Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei) in 2006, and a preliminary website can be visited from the Links section.


  Training Academy for Senior Police - Summary/Résumé [English] (40.50 Kb) Training Academy for Senior Police - Summary/Résumé [English] http://polis.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=17&attach_id=174
An English summary as well as a French résumé on the missions of the Polizei-Fuehrungsakademie (PFA) in Muenster (Source: Official website of the PFA)
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Criminal Justice System

1. General information
2. Prosecution

1. General information
The German courts are largely specialized and fall into five categories:

  • Courts of Record: responsible for criminal matters, civil cases and voluntary jurisdiction, they are organized into four levels: the local courts (Amtsgerichte), regional courts (Landgerichte), higher regional courts (Oberlandesgerichte) and the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof).
  • Labour courts - local, state and federal
  • Administrative courts - local, state and federal
  • Social courts - local, state and federal
  • Fiscal courts - state and federal

The Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) which is the country‘s supreme court, is separate from the five branches of jurisdiction.

2. Prosecution
The public prosecutor‘s offices are criminal justice bodies of independent responsibilities vis-a-vis the courts and attached to the judiciary. In the case of the Federal Court of Justice, the office of prosecutor is exercised by the Federal Prosecutor General (Generalbundesanwalt), in the case of a higher regional court, by a Prosecutor General, and in the case of a regional court, by a Senior Prosecutor-in-Charge, together with their respective staff.

The public prosecutors are, for the most part, concerned with criminal proceedings. It is their responsibility to establish the facts when a person is suspected of having committed a crime. They must decide whether to discontinue the proceedings or to indict the suspect. In court proceedings, they are the prosecuting counsels. Unlike judges, public prosecutors are civil servants. As of June 1999, there were approximately 5.200 public prosecutors in Germany.

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Ministry of the Interior - Germany  Ministry of the Interior - Germany http://www.bmi.bund.de/
Official website of the Ministry of the Interior, Germany

Federal Police - Germany  Federal Police - Germany http://www.bundespolizei.de/EN/Home/home__node.html?__nnn=true
Official website of the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei), available in German and English.

State Police - Germany  State Police - Germany http://www.polizei.de/
Official website with links to the State Police of the 16 German federal states (Laender)

Federal Criminal Police Office - Germany  Federal Criminal Police Office - Germany http://www.bka.de/
Official website of the German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt)

Police University of Münster - Germany  Police University of Münster - Germany http://www.dhpol.de/en/index.php
The German Police University (DHPol) is the central German police university providing police education and development being designed for the senior police service in Germany.

Federal Police Academy - Lübeck, Germany  Federal Police Academy - Lübeck, Germany http://www.bundespolizei.de/cln_161/nn_503540/DE/Home/03__Organisation/3Bundespolizeiakademie/bpolak__node.html?__nnn=true
Official website of the Federal Police Academy (Bundespolizeiakademie) in Lübeck

OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - Germany  OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - Germany http://www.legislationline.org/topics/country/28/topic/12
Legislationline is a gratis internet-based legislative database published and maintained by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Last Updated: 12 December 2006

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