For the law and
for the people
Vaughan Willmore takes a look at the work of
the National Republican Guard (GNR).
For the law and for the people
Vaughan Willmore takes a look at the work of the National Republican Guard (GNR).
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you see the GNR?
Do you have a sense of dread when you spot them standing by the side of the road flagging down vehicles, even though you’ve done nothing wrong? Do you feel reassured by their presence?
As someone who worked for the police service in the UK, one of the most striking aspects of living in Portugal is the high profile presence of the police service here, but how much do we really know about their work?
There are five strands to the policing family in Portugal: the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), the Public Security Police (PSP), the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), the Judicial Police (PJ), and the Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE).
The GNR is particularly interesting amongst them as it’s a gendarmerie whose organisational structure, tactics, training, and function are similar to those of the military.
With a history that can be traced back to the early 19th Century and the Royal Guard of the Police of Lisbon, the GNR of today has two paymasters. It reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for its domestic agenda and the National Ministry of Defence for international operations and regulation of its military doctrine, including such matters as firearms and equipment.
The GNR is a national force with responsibility for policing all areas of the country except for the larger cities, which fall under the jurisdiction of the PSP. It also has duties of customs enforcement, coastal control, nature protection, search and rescue operations, and state ceremonial guards of honour. In terms of its overseas operations, in the last 20 years alone, GNR personnel have participated in operations in Iraq and East Timor.