Under totalitarian regimes, thought police may be created to monitor publications and other expressions of opinion. Censorship and suspension of publishing, broadcasting, printing and even photocopying becomes common. Political figures, editors, writers and other dissenters may be arrested, sent to internal exile or even murdered. Political police, under whatever name, are the counterparts to political prisoners. They are the agents of brutal regimes whose vague directives against 'enemies of the state' encourage excessive and criminal mistreatment of those whose fault is to desire freedom of thought and expression.
Political policing has existed within the national security police forces of revolutionary France, Czarist Russia, the Third Reich, communist east European countries, imperial Iran, militarily-led modern Greece, and under a number of dictatorships in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.