A comparative analysis of the police in Europe is, for a host of reasons, a complex undertaking. The first difficulty is the vagueness of the term ‘police’ itself. The remark made by Bayley some time ago is even more pertinent today: ‘Organizations called police perform different functions in different countries; different organizations in the same country carry out police duties; police units handle non-police duties just as police duties are handled by non-police personnel’ (Bayley 1975: 328). One can imagine the difficulty when it comes to covering the situation in some thirty countries! An additional problem is the difficulty in gathering reliable data in a sector in which reforms are frequent: publications that claim to provide an overall view are rapidly outdated; moreover, the diversity of European languages serves to limit access to national documents that deal with the question; and the development of research on the police varies greatly from one country to the next, which by no means facilitates comparison. 2