The mission of Polícia Judiciária (PJ), under the terms of its organic law and the Organization of Criminal Investigation Act (LOIC), is to assist the judicial and prosecuting authorities in investigations, to develop and foster preventive, detection and investigative actions, falling within their jurisdiction or the actions which the Polícia Judiciária is entrusted with by the competent judicial and prosecuting authorities.
The exclusive competences of the Polícia Judiciária within the scope of criminal investigation are defined in Sections 7 and 8 of the LOIC - Act no.49/2008, 27 August 2008.
The Polícia Judiciária acts according to the following values:
- Justice and Impartiality
Approving the structure and organisation of the Polícia Judiciária
The first predecessor of the Polícia Judiciária was the Polícia Cívica, founded by King Luís on 2 July 1867 under the Justice of the Kingdom, whose commissaries, as judicial police officials, were "in charge of discovering offences, violations or contraventions, collecting evidence and taking criminals to court".
Portugal adhered to the International Criminal Police Commission in 1924, set up in Vienna the year before and the predecessor of the ICPO (International Criminal Police Organisation) - Interpol.
Decree no. 14.657, 5 December 1927, assigned the Serviços de Polícia de Investigação to the Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs, a position that has not changed until today, as the Polícia Judiciária assists the judicial and prosecuting authorities, the judges at Judicial Courts and the Public Prosecution Service.
The Polícia Judiciária, as it exists today, was founded in 1945, under the direction of Judge Monteiro Júnior, after a general restructuring of the police forces in Portugal according to Decree-Law no. 35.042, 20 October 1945, and it became organically dependent on the Ministry of Justice, replacing the Polícia de Investigação Criminal.
Being part of the general plan of the ordinary procedural system and of the crime prevention and repression institutions, the Polícia Judiciária was the entity empowered "to carry out the investigation of offences and find out their perpetrators, opening preparatory inquiries and organising crime prevention, mainly of customary crime".
In 1958, the Polícia Judiciária inaugurated their new premises, in Rua Gomes Freire, Lisbon, which were built resorting to prisoner labour. This building became the institution's headquarters down to the present day.
The Forensic Science Laboratory, under the direction of Prof. Alberto Ralha, and the Escola Prática de Ciências Criminais [Criminal Sciences Practical School], both organically integrated in the Polícia Judiciária, were founded in 1957.
The first great restructuring of the Polícia Judiciária occurred in 1977, under the direction of Judge Lourenço Martins. Decree-Law no. 364/77, 2 September 1977, defined this police service as "a crime prevention and investigation service, assisting the administration of justice, hierarchically organised under the Minister of Justice".
The Escola de Polícia Judiciária [Criminal Police Training School] was founded in 1978, based on the pre-existing Escola Prática de Ciências Criminais [Criminal Sciences Practical School], in order to "assure the training and further training of the Polícia Judiciária staff", as well as programming and carrying out selection, training and improvement actions of Polícia Judiciária's officers.
Initially based in Lisbon, Oporto and Coimbra, some years after being founded, the Polícia Judiciária began to spread across the territory, setting up new departments in several parts of the country, especially in areas with high crime rates.
Within the Polícia Judiciária General Directorate, and besides the Central Office for Combating Violent and Organised Crime, which already existed, Decree-Law no. 295-A/90, 21 September 1990, established the creation of the Central Office for Drug Trafficking Investigation, the Central Office for Investigating Corruption, Fraud and Economic and Financial Crime, as well as the Central Department for Information Record and Crime Prevention, which were based on the Central Prevention and Investigation Directorate and Central Records and Information Archive, that was abolished at the time.
The Europol National Unit was founded in 1996, and it was organically integrated in the Polícia Judiciária and temporarily settled in Leiria, based on a structure that was already ensuring the liaison with the at that time called Europol Drugs Unit, later "Europol".
The Polícia Judiciária, further to a Protocol signed by their responsible persons, initiates an operational co-operation process, together with the other security and police forces and services, for fighting drug trafficking, which relied on information sharing, co-operation between forces, operational co-ordination and joint intervention.
In the year 2000, the whole national police structure was revised with the enactment of the Organisation of Criminal Investigation Act, being the second restructuring of the Polícia Judiciária, according to Decree-Law no. 275-A/2000, 9 November 2000. In 2008, both acts were amended by the Organisation of Criminal Investigation - Act no. 49/2008, 27 August 2008, and by the new Organic Law of the Polícia Judiciária - Act no. 37/2008, 6 August 2008.
Evolving and following up society's complexity and sophistication, the Polícia Judiciária is a superior criminal police body, hierarchically organised under the Minister of Justice and supervised as legally set forth.
The mission of the Polícia Judiciária is to assist the judicial and prosecuting authorities in investigations, to develop and foster preventive, detection and investigative actions, falling within their jurisdiction or the actions which the Polícia Judiciária is entrusted with by the competent judicial and prosecuting authorities.