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Turkey: National Police
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Police System > National Police


The territorial organization of the National Police corresponds roughly to Turkey's administrative subdivisions in most of the administrative districts. Despite their wide territorial distribution, a very large proportion of the police are clustered in the major cities. No reliable data are available on the size of the police force, whose members are believed to number more than 50,000. Regardless of its size, the force does not appear large enough to keep up with the need generated by Turkey's urban growth and ordinary crime and traffic problems.

The laws establishing the organization of police at the provincial and local levels distinguish three categories of functions: administrative, judicial, and political. In this context, the administrative police perform the usual functions relating to the safety of persons and property: enforcement of laws and regulations, prevention of smuggling and apprehension of smugglers, quelling of public disorder, fingerprinting and photographing, public licensing, controlling traffic and inspecting motor vehicles, apprehending thieves and military deserters, locating missing persons, and keeping track of foreigners residing or traveling in Turkey. Film censorship is also considered an administrative responsibility. In some cases, municipalities provide all or part of the funding for administrative police functions in their localities.

The judicial police work closely with the administrators of justice. Attached to the offices of public prosecutors, the judicial police assist in investigating crimes, issue arrest warrants, and help prosecutors assemble evidence for trials. The political police combat activities considered subversive and deal with those groups whose actions or plans are identified as contrary to the security of the republic.

To carry out the police's broad and sometimes overlapping functions, specialized squads focusing on such problems as smuggling and the narcotics trade are located in the larger commands. At the other end of the scale, the police employ unskilled auxiliaries in many towns and in some neighborhoods of larger communities. These are selected local men, not armed, who are engaged to prevent local theft and to give the alarm in case of emergency.

Police ranks range from constable through sergeant, lieutenant, captain, superintendent second and first class, and several grades of police chief. A commissioner of police commands each of the seventy-six provincial directorates of police. Provincial directorates are divided into district police commands headed by superintendents.

In earlier years, an entrant to the lowest police grade was expected to have completed junior high school. But police authorities recognized that the low education level of the force contributed to violations of legal rights and mistreatment of prisoners. Thus, recent recruits have been required to have completed secondary school. Training consists of a six-month basic course at one of five police schools. Candidates for higher rank are sent to a police college (equivalent to a senior high school offering university preparation) and then to the Police Institute at Ankara, from which students graduate as sergeants after a three-year course.

The performance of the Turkish police has been the subject of persistent criticism for violations of fundamental human rights. These problems, which have received growing international and domestic attention, involve torture during questioning, incommunicado detention, politically motivated disappearances, "mystery killings," and excessive use of force. Successive governments have repeatedly promised to curb abuses by the security forces, but little if any improvement has been recorded.

Data as of January 1995

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Turkey Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 195 of 206


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