For more than 150 years, the Guardia Urbana police of Barcelona have evolved in tandem with the city itself.
The essentially rural structure of Catalonia in the 18th century meant that the Esquadres de Catalunya were the ideal police force to meet the needs of public order at the time.
In many Catalan cities there was no other police force apart from the army. Barcelona bore highly different features to the remaining cities in Catalonia, for instance, it was a capital, undergoing demographic growth and it was served by a port.
In Barcelona the modern precedents of the urban and security police were beginning to take shape.
In 1573, Barcelona had specialised officials who oversaw compliance with the rules of the urban police: the “Obreros” or workers, the “Mostaza” – someone who was in charge of checking the weights, measures, and quality of food – and the administrator.
The experience of Barcelona spread to other major Catalan communities.
As far as the security police are concerned, in 1579 the Council of Barcelona city approved a proposal from the Provincial Court to divide the city into districts and, in turn, to divide these districts into neighbourhoods in order to ensure public peace of mind.