Icelandic Police

Icelandic Police

Official insignia
Motto Með lögum skal land byggja
With laws shall lands be built
Agency overview
Formed 1778
Employees c.805 (2011)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency Iceland
Size 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi)
Population 332,529
Governing body Icelandic government
General nature
Operational structure
Elected officer responsible Ólöf Nordal, Minister of the Interior
Agency executive Haraldur Jóhannessen, National Commissioner
Police cars and motorcycles c.300+ (2012)

The Icelandic Police (Icelandic: Lögreglan, lit. 'The Law Order') is responsible for law enforcement throughout the country, except in Icelandic territorial waters which fall under the jurisdiction of the Icelandic Coast Guard.[1] Police affairs in Iceland are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior[2] and are administered by the Office of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police (Embætti ríkislögreglustjóra) on behalf of the ministry.[3] The organisation is divided into 9 districts, the largest being the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police (Lögreglan á höfuðborgarsvæðinu), which is responsible for the Capital Region[4] and its total population of around 208,000 people.[5]



The Icelandic Police can trace its origins to 1778 when the first traces of industry started to appear. Up until that time, the law had been enforced first by individuals permitted to do so by the Althing and then by sýslumenn (sheriffs) and other Royal proxies.[6]

The first Icelandic policemen are considered to be the morningstar armed night-watchmen of Reykjavík who were commissioned primarily to deter the prisoners of the Reykjavík prison from breaking into the Innréttingarnar.[7]

In 1803, the first proper policemen were commissioned in Reykjavík as it became a free town or kaupstaður. The first police chief was Rasmus Frydensberg, the town mayor, who hired two former soldiers, Ole Biørn and Vilhelm Nolte, as the first policemen. It was not until shortly after 1891 that policemen were hired in most of the other areas of Iceland.[8]

Post 1900

In 1933 Alþingi passed the Police Act which provided state participation in financing of police forces. This was done mostly in response to the threat of a communist revolution, whose capabilities had become apparent in violent attempt to force the decisions of the Reykjavík city council, where a large part of the police forces went out of action as a result of physical injury. The act also authorized the Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical affairs to call out reserves in critical situations.[9]

In 1972 the state took over command of law enforcement in Iceland, creating the National Police and in 1977 State Criminal Investigation Police started operations under a special Director. The State Investigation Police took over investigations of criminal activities that previously were under the control of the Reykjavík Criminal Court and police commissioners in the Capital Region.[10] National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police was formed in 1997 and State Criminal Investigation Police was decommissioned.[11]

First-ever shooting death

On December 2, 2013, a person died due to an armed police operation for the first time in Iceland's modern history. Police had responded to reports of shotgun fire in an apartment in Árbær, a Reykjavík suburb.[12] Initially tear gas was used in an attempt to subdue the gunman,[13] a 59-year-old man, but it failed to affect him.

When an armed police team entered the apartment in question, two officers were injured by shotgun fire. One officer was holding a ballistic shield which got hit. The other officer got hit in the head, but was wearing a ballistic helmet. This led to other officers returning fire. The gunman was taken to the hospital, where he died. National Police Commissioner Haraldur Johannessen immediately apologised to the man's family, calling the incident "unprecedented"[14] The shooter's motives were not immediately clear, though some neighbours reported the gunman was making threats towards them.[15] An investigation into this incident was launched, and the guns involved on all sides were seized. Counseling was offered to the officers involved.[16]

Police Academy

Icelandic police academy has been shut down as of 30th September 2016 and has the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture decided to hand the responsibility of training future police officers to University of Akureyri (Icelandic: Háskólinn á Akureyri). Until now the police academy has been its' own institution under the Ministry of Interior. The police academy has always been a non-university education, but now it is a university education. [17]

This decision is quite controversial as it went straight against a committee set to see which school would be fittest. The committee was from Central Public Procurement (Icelandic: Ríkiskaup) who recommended the University of Iceland (Icelandic: Háskóli Íslands). [18]


#TitleEnglish translation
1RíkislögreglustjóriNational Police Commissioner
2VararíkislögreglustjóriDeputy National Police Commissioner
LögreglustjóriPolice Commissioner
Skólastjóri Lögregluskóla ríkisinsDirector of the Police Academy
3Varalögreglustjóri í ReykjavíkDeputy Commissioner of Reykjavík
Staðgengill RíkislögreglustjóraDeputy National Police Commissioner
4Yfirlögregluþjónn(Detective) Chief Superintendent
5Aðstoðaryfirlögregluþjónn(Detective) Superintendent
6AðalvarðstjóriChief Inspector
LögreglufulltrúiDetective Chief Inspector
RannsóknarlögreglumaðurDetective Inspector
8LögreglumaðurPolice Constable
9LögreglunemiPolice Cadet
Afleysingamaður í lögregluTemporary Replacement Police Constable
HéraðslögreglumaðurTemporarily hired constable



The Icelandic police wears black uniforms marked with traditional black and white checked markings and the Icelandic police star. The working uniform varies from a traditional service uniform (shirt and trousers) to tactical overalls. The old traditional Icelandic service uniform is now used as a dress uniform. The trousers patrol officers use are made from a fire-resistant material.[19]


Although Icelandic police officers carry only extendable batons and MK-4 OC-spray (pepper spray) whilst on duty, they are trained in the use of firearms and are issued firearms in certain situations.[20] Competition shooting with handguns is common within the police. Some of the patrol vehicles are equipped with firearms, longer batons, riot shields and spike strips; the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police, however, do not have firearms in their vehicles, rather it is primarily the special operations team, the Víkingasveitin, and the police out in the more remote areas of the country.[21][22]



In Iceland, police vehicles are white with the Icelandic word for "police", Lögreglan, written in blue letters. The cars also have blue and red stripes with the Icelandic police star overlaying the stripes on the front doors. The sides of the cars are also marked with blue and yellow angular stripes. All markings are of reflective material and the emergency lights are all blue.[23][24]

Volvo S80 D5 police car

The National Police Commissioner owns all of the vehicles used by the police districts around the country. Regional districts rent their vehicles from the National Police Commissioner, paying a per-kilometre charge to cover operating costs, etc. for a period of five years.[25] The Víkingasveitin uses the Volvo XC90 and Volvo XC70 as well as other unmarked vehicles that have been modified for tactical operations.[26][27]



There are 9 police district in Iceland which follow the regions of Iceland with the addition of Vestmannaeyjar being its own district. The current police district division is stipulated by the Regulation on Police Districts of the Police Commissioner which was signed 4 December 2014 by Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson who acted as Minister of Justice temporarily within the Ministry of the Interior due to a scandal.[28] The headquarters are administrative centres for their respective district and regular police stations.[29][30]

# District Headquarters Police stations
1 Capital Region Reykjavík Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður
Municipal jurisdiction: Reykjavíkurborg, Seltjarnarnesbær, Mosfellsbær, Kjósarhreppur, Hafnarfjarðarkaupstaður, Garðabær and Kópavogsbær.
2 Western Region Borgarnes Akranes, Stykkishólmur, Búðardalur, Snæfellsbær, Grundarfjörður
Municipal jurisdiction: Akraneskaupstaður, Hvalfjarðarsveit, Skorradalshreppur, Borgarbyggð, Snæfellsbær, Eyja- og Miklaholtshreppur, Grundarfjarðarbær, Helgafellssveit, Stykkishólmsbær and Dalabyggð.
3 Westfjords Ísafjörður Bolungarvík, Hólmavík, Patreksfjörður
Municipal jurisdiction: Reykhólahreppur, Vesturbyggð, Tálknafjarðarhreppur, Bolungarvíkurkaupstaður, Ísafjarðarbær, Súðavíkurhreppur, Árneshreppur, Kaldrananeshreppur and Strandabyggð.
4 Northwestern Region Sauðárkrókur Blönduós
Municipal jurisdiction: Húnaþing vestra, Húnavatnshreppur, Blönduósbær, Sveitarfélagið Skagaströnd, Skagabyggð, Sveitarfélagið Skagafjörður and Akrahreppur.
5 Northeastern Region Akureyri Húsavík, Siglufjörður, Dalvík, Þórshöfn
Municipal jurisdiction: Fjallabyggð, Dalvíkurbyggð, Hörgársveit, Akureyrarkaupstaður, Eyjafjarðarsveit, Svalbarðsstrandarhreppur, Grýtubakkahreppur, Þingeyjarsveit, Skútustaðahreppur, Norðurþing, Tjörneshreppur, Svalbarðshreppur and Langanesbyggð.
6 Eastern Region Eskifjörður Egilsstaðir, Seyðisfjörður, Vopnafjörður, Neskaupstaður, Fáskrúðsfjörður, Djúpivogur
Municipal jurisdiction: Vopnafjarðarhreppur, Sveitarfélagið Hornafjörður, Fljótsdalshreppur, Fljótsdalshérað, Borgarfjarðarhreppur, Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður, Fjarðabyggð, Breiðdalshreppur and Djúpavogshreppur.
7 Southern Region Hvolsvöllur Selfoss, Vík, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Höfn
Municipal jurisdiction: Skaftárhreppur, Mýrdalshreppur, Rangárþing eystra, Rangárþing ytra, Ásahreppur, Sveitarfélagið Árborg, Flóahreppur, Skeiða- og Gnúpverjahreppur, Hrunamannahreppur, Bláskógabyggð, Grímsnes- og Grafningshreppur, Hveragerðisbær and Sveitarfélagið Ölfus.
8 Vestmannaeyjar Vestmannaeyjabær unspecified
Municipal jurisdiction: Vestmannaeyjabær.
9 Southern Peninsula Reykjanesbær Grindavík, Sandgerði, Garður, Vogar, Leif Eiriksson Air Terminal
Municipal jurisdiction: Grindavíkurbær, Sandgerðisbær, Sveitarfélagið Garður, Reykjanesbær and Sveitarfélagið Vogar.

Intelligence services

In 1939, at the orders of then Prime Minister Hermann Jónasson, the State Police and the Útlendingaeftirlitið (Foreigner monitoring agency) founded a Security department or eftirgrennslanadeild. This service was founded primarily to monitor Nazi scientists in Iceland as well as communists. After World War II, this service had the embassies of communist countries under surveillance and compiled lists of communist sympathizers and potential saboteurs or terrorists. It was not until 2006 that this service was officially acknowledged, after having been known to only a handful of men for more than 60 years, after historians were granted limited access to secret documents.

The National Commissioner's National Security Unit (Greiningardeild Ríkislögreglustjóra) is currently responsible for internal intelligence activities.

See also


  1. "About Us". Icelandic Coast Guard. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  2. "About Us". Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  3. "The National Commissioner of Police — An Introduction". The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  4. "Reykjavík Metropolitan Police – New Structure" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  5. "Population by municipality, sex, citizenship and quarters 2010–2014". Statistics Iceland. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  6. Guðjónsson, Guðmundur, ed. (April 2003). "The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. p. 6. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  7. The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 9-10.
  8. The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 15.
  9. The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 24.
  10. The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 25.
  11. The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 32.
  12. "Iceland police kills gunman in country's 'first ever' police shooting". Fox News. Associated Press. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  13. "Rare Iceland armed police operation leaves man dead". BBC. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  14. Edwards, Anna (3 December 2013). "Police in Iceland shoot a criminal dead for the first time… and immediately 'offer condolences' to the man's family". Daily Mail. London, United Kingdom: Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  15. "Regret over Iceland's first police shooting". Al Jazeera. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  16. Malcolm (3 December 2013). "First fatal police shooting in Iceland leaves gunman dead". Reykjavik, Iceland: IceNews. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  19. "Reglugerð um einkennisfatnað lögreglunnar. | Reglugerðir | Reglugerðasafn". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  20. Guðjónsson, Guðmundur, ed. (September 2005). "Icelandic Police and Justice System: A short introduction" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. p. 10. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  21. "Hvenær má lögreglan nota skotvopn? -". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  22. Dóms- og kirkjumálaráðuneyti (9 February 2015). "Reglur um valdbeitingu lögreglumanna og meðferð og notkun valdbeitingartækja og vopna" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  23. "Reglugerð um einkenni og merki lögreglunnar. | Reglugerðir | Reglugerðasafn". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  24. "Image: reykjavic-police_2752344b.jpg, (620 × 387 px)". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  25. "The Office of The National Commissioner of Police: An Introduction" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. October 2004. p. 27. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  26. "Image: 762517.jpg, (820 × 543 px)". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  27. "Image: 747357.jpg, (820 × 543 px)". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  28. "Reglugerð sett um lögregluumdæmi lögreglustjóra | Fréttir | Útgáfa | Innanríkisráðuneytið". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  29. "Umdæmin | Lögreglan". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  30. Umfangsmiklar breytingar á umdæmum sýslumanna og lögreglu í gildi um áramót. Ministry of the Interior (in Icelandic)
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/22/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.