Under Swiss federalism, there is no national police force in Switzerland because each canton is responsible for its own police affairs. Despite this system having numerous advantages, the increasing cross-cantonal and international nature of the challenges facing the police requires close co-operation between the cantons in to counter any negative impact this structure may have. The cantons have therefore developed various forms of co-operation through police agreements and other arrangements, and have also made efforts to standardise areas such as equipment and training, thus deriving the added benefit of economisation.
The Conference of Cantonal Police Commanders of Switzerland (CCPCS) and the Swiss Association of Municipal Police Chiefs (SAMPC) endorse closer co-operation between the cantons and cities, and with the federal authorities. Both bodies deal with the most important aspects of police work. The central political organ is the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors (CCJPD).
Structure of the Swiss police
Federal structure – constitutional basis
The organisational structure of the police reflects the federal system of Switzerland.
Each of the 26 cantons exercises police sovereignty. This state of affairs that goes back to long before the Swiss constitution was established. The constitution of 1848 did not change anything in this respect and still recognises cantonal jurisdiction in police matters. Hence, the cantons are responsible for safeguarding public law and order on their respective territory. The other main task of the cantonal police is law enforcement. The constitution does, however, grant the federal authorities responsibility for certain police tasks.
Last modification 16.06.2020