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The security of living in the Basque Country

A territory is not only shaped by its geographical boundaries, its characteristic cities, towns, and villages, its emblematic buildings and monuments, or its natural landscapes; it is also formed by all the citizens who live within it. So, the best way of caring for a community is to prioritise the security and safety of all its inhabitants.

The Basque Country is one of the safest places in Europe, with an average crime rate of 41.34 per one thousand inhabitants in 2012, almost seven points lower than average for Spain (48 in 2012), and over twenty points lower than the EU average, set at 64.9.

Also, the Basque Country is the safest autonomous community in all of the Spanish State according to a survey conducted by Sondea Institute for Securitas Direct, and Bilbao is rated the 5th safest city in the world by World’s Best Cities 2021, which is a study that identifies cities that are most desirable for locals, visitors, and businesspeople alike, rather than simply looking at livability or tourism appeal.

According to Sondea Institute, the Basque Country is the safest autonomous community according to 14 % of the respondents, followed by Asturias (9 %) and Extremadura (8 %).  On the other hand, 38 per cent of the respondents, from more than 2,000 interviews, consider that Madrid is the least safe, followed by Andalusia (21 %) and Catalonia (19 %).

Compared crime rate (crimes committed per thousand inhabitants). Year 2009

Balance criminalidad 2011 EN

Source: Interior Ministry (Crime balance sheet 2011). Except figures for the Basque Country

Homicide rate

One of the most widespread social concerns is crime, for it can curtail citizens’ freedom and shake the foundations of communities. According to OECD murder rates, the average for member States is 2.2 murders every 100,000 inhabitants. In the Basque Country, the rate is much lower: 0.55, only behind Japan or Iceland.


Basque Country Security Forces

The Basque Country has one of the highest policing ratios in the European Union: 6.9 officers for every 1,000 inhabitants. So the region offers a very high security response rate in comparison with the rest of the European Union.

Police officers per 1,000 inhabitants in Europe (2010)


Source: Eurostat.

The Basque Country Security Forces are responsible for safeguarding the physical integrity of citizens and fighting crime through their actions, resulting in this being one of the safest regions in Europe.

Responsibility for ensuring citizen safety lies with the Basque Regional Police Force, known as the Ertzaintza, which was founded in 1982 and currently has 8,000 officers, as well as two differentMunicipal Police Forces, with a further 3,000 officers, who are trained at the Basque Police and Emergency Services Academylocated in Arkaute (Araba-Álava).

The Ertzaintza is an on-the-ground police force that is highly professional and recognised for its work. In recent years, it has increased its presence on the street by allocating officers to the Citizen Safety unit, increasing the number of patrols on foot and in cars. The Local Police have also worked hard to increase the provision of policing in the three province capitals.

In short, the Basque Country is a secure, safe place, which promotes peace and social harmony, striving to ensure personal wellbeing, with a police force that is committed to society, as reflected in the OECD Citizen Safety Index.

Índice de seguridad ciudadana


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