Military Wiki
Cyprus Military Police
Kypriaki Stratiotiki Astinomia
Κυπριακή Στρατιωτική Αστυνομία
Agency overview
Formed 1880
Dissolved 1935
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
General nature
  • Law enforcement
  • Gendarmerie
Operational structure

In 1880, an armed Gendarmerie force, the Cyprus Military Police, was created by the British colonial administration of the island. Popularly known as zaptiehs, this body numbered about 700, organised in both mounted and foot units. The force's personnel were predominantly drawn from the minority Turkish Cypriot population, although prior to 1914 about a third were Greek Cypriots. The eight most senior officer positions were normally seconded filled by secondment from the British Army. While trained to undertake some police duties, the force had an essentially military character.[1] Mounted zaptiehs, armed with carbines and sabres, were portrayed in contemporary illustrations patrolling rural roads in twos.

A detachment of mounted zaptiehs participated in Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebrations of 1897, where their fezes and blue and scarlet zouave style uniforms attracted much attention.[2] The role and recruitment basis of the zaptiehs remained essentially unchanged until, in 1935, the Cyprus Military Police lost their quasi-military role and were reorganised as the civilian "Cyprus Police Force". Seconded Army officers were subsequently replaced by inspectors and commissioners appointed from British and other colonial police forces.

See also


  1. David Anderson and David Killingray, Policing and Decolonisation, Politics, Nationalism and the Police 1917-65, ISBN 0-7190-3033-1
  2. Illustrated London News, June 26, 1897

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