Czech Police

Need to report a crime and don't speak Czech? Prague's cops aren't quite as difficult to deal with as they once were

It can happen.

No matter how careful you are, you may find yourself the victim of a crime in the Czech Republic.

Apart from the sense of violation, there's the added stress of dealing with the police -- a task some people find daunting in their home country.

The main concern for most expats filing a police report is whether anyone will be able to understand them.

You'll be pleased to know that in the Czech Republic this shouldn't be a problem -- at least not officially.

People reporting a crime are entitled to use their mother tongue or any other language they feel competent in, according to section 2, paragraph 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (trestní řád) (in Czech).

If you're at a police station in Prague, the chances that an officer on duty will speak English are high.

If this isn't the case, or you're in a town where nobody speaks English, or you simply want to ensure that all communication is as clear as possible, you're entitled to a interpreter -- paid for by the police -- according to section 28, paragraph 1 of the criminal code.

If a registered interpreter isn't available for the language you request, the relevant authority should provide one who speaks the official language in a country of which you are a national or a citizen.

In the case that you don't have citizenship with a country, they will select the language of the state where you have permanent residency.

Multilingual communication is also possible if you need to call the Czech police in an emergency.

Alongside the more established 158 number, which puts you directly in contact with the Czech police, a newer number, available across Europe, should ensure that you reach an English-speaking operator.

This number is 112, the Integrated European Emergency Number (Jednotné evropské číslo tísňového volání).

Compared to other emergency telephone numbers, 112 has certain advantages:

• It's still possible to call 112 if you have no credit on your mobile phone, or even without a SIM card

• It's possible to call 112 via a number of networks

• It's possible to call 112 from a locked mobile phone

• As well as speaking English (and Czech), 112 operators in the Czech Republic also speak German

Please note, however, that all 112 calls are recorded to prevent the system being abused.

In the Czech Republic, there are two distinct types of police, the state police (Policie České republiky) and the municipal police (Městská policie).

As far as your dealings with the police go, the two forces are interchangeable.

Their competence and legal authority are the same, but the Městská policie's jurisdiction is restricted to the town or city they serve.

See the Security Forces section of the official Czech Republic website for more information.

In accordance with the Police Act, a police officer can request your full name, date of birth and permanent or current address in the following situations:

• If you're caught committing a criminal act or offense

• If an explanation is requested

• If you fit the description of a missing or wanted person

• If you're in the vicinity of protected premises or a state border "without reason"

• If you have a weapon in a public place and there's a suspicion that you'll cause harm

• If you're in the vicinity of a place where a crime or offense has been committed, or a car accident, fire or other "extraordinary occurrence" has taken place

Finally, one other option is to approach beat cops in tourist areas, which are more likely to be patrolled by English-speaking police officers.

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