14 September 2020

A Visual Representation of Force and Control Techniques Deployed in Spain

14 September 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

By combining archival materials with newly made images from his studio and the streets of Madrid, Felipe Romero Beltrán proposes a unique perspective on the violence used by Spanish police to detain immigrants.



1. Reduce the amount, size, intensity, or importance of a thing.

2. Subdue or force to obey something or someone who offers resistance.

3.Changing or converting one thing into something else, usually smaller.

The legal status of an immigrant determines whether she or he can regularly transit all city streets. The immigrant’s daily routine is affected when he or she does not have identification documents or a valid residence in the country. That, in legal terms, is known as an Undocumented Person. The police force checks periodically the legal status of residents in areas where statistically they may find more irregularities. Those places are called “Warning Zones”. Each time the Police Warning is emitted in the area, undocumented immigrants avoid those streets from their usual ways to avoid been caught. The immigrant transits the streets in relation to the zones that he or she can cross.

When an area with undocumented immigrants is detected, a police checkpoint is established. This requires the modification of the daily transit routine of undocumented immigrants. If the immigrant is arrested, he or she is subdued and transferred to the CIE (Undocumented Detention Center). The arrest of undocumented people is regulated by the Police Defence Manual established by the National Police Force. The manual explains in detail how to subdued the undocumented person with combat techniques.

Reducción (Subdued) explores undocumented immigrant’s procedures of arrestment and violence in Madrid.


- WARNING ZONES - Photographs of areas where undocumented immigrants were arrested

-Two undocumented immigrants implementing the techniques in the Police Defense Manual to subdue each other. The procedure was instructed by a national police officer.

- Police Archive

Words and Pictures by Felipe Romero Beltrán.


Felipe Romero Beltrán is a documentary photographer. He focuses on long-term projects that approach social issues related to political conflicts in Latin America and Spain. Felipe is developing a PhD program on photography in Madrid, Spain and at the same time, he is working for magazines as a documentary photographer. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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