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Italy: Security of Cities

(Mar. 10, 2017) On February 21, 2017, new legislation on the security of cities in Italy entered into effect.  (Decree-Law No. 14 of February 20, 2017, Urgent Provisions on the Security of the City (D. L. No. 14), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.) (Feb. 20, 2017), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)  The new legislation regulates the methods for coordination of public policies by the state, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trent and Bolzano, and other local entities for the promotion of an integrated security system.  (Id. art. 1(1).)  While recognizing the exclusive constitutional competence of the state to safeguard public order and security at the national level, the new law mandates that all of the above entities approve general guidelines for public security policies at a Unified Conference.  (Id. art. 2(1).)  The Unified Conference, which meets as it deems necessary, reviews and decides upon, among other matters, the key issue of coordination of the police forces of all the aforementioned entities.  (Id. art. 2(1).)

“Urban Security”

The legislation defines “urban security” as the public benefit related to the liveability and decorum of a city, to be obtained through the intervention in and recovery of the most degraded urban areas or sites and through the elimination of factors of marginality and social exclusion, the prevention of crime, the promotion of respect for legality, and the emergence of higher levels of social cohesion and civil coexistence.  (Id. art. 4(1).)

Cooperative activities to implement the joint public policies on security take place through specific agreements, which may also include financial commitments from the participants to support their collaborative endeavors.  (Id. art. 3(1).)  The agreements reached between the state, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trent and Bolzano, and other local entities concerning their public policies for the promotion of urban security strategies and activities must also take into consideration the requirements of rural areas that neighbor urban territories.  (Id. art. 5(1).)


A “Metropolitan Committee” is created in each metropolitan city to oversee the implementation of the measures provided for under the new legislation.  (Decree-Law No. 14, art. 6(1); Dante Figueroa, Italy: Law Reordering the Territorial Organization of the Country, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Mar. 14, 2014).)  The respective prefect (questore, a city’s administrative head) and the metropolitan mayor co-preside over the Committee, whose other members include the mayor of the chief district within the city and the mayors of the other communes concerned.  (Decree-Law No. 14,  art. 6(1).)  The law allows for the creation of instruments for the implementation of joint initiatives.  (Id. art. 7(1).)


New measures for the protection of specific places in or near cities include the imposition of administrative penalties (fines) on those who engage in conduct that limits the free access and enjoyment of public infrastructures, such as urban or suburban railroads, airports, and maritime and local means of public transportation.  (Id. art. 9(1).)  The new legislation prescribes that police regulations may identify for security purposes urban areas where museums, archeological areas and parks, monuments, or other institutions and cultural places are affected by large flows of tourists or are used as public green spaces.  (Id. art. 9(3).)

The legislation also allows the prefect to forbid entry into the city of persons who have been convicted of drug dealing within or in the vicinity of public facilities.  (Id. art. 13(1).)  The prohibition may not last less than one year or more than five years.  (Id. art. 13(2).)  The prefect may also impose alternative disciplinary measures against those convicted of the crime.  (Id. art. 13(3).)  Minors between the ages of 14 and 18 may also be subject to these measures.  (Id. art. 13(5).)  Additional penalties are established for recividists.  (Id. art. 13(6).)

The law provides that in other cases of repeated prohibited conduct, the local prefect may prevent the accused from entering any of the affected areas for a minimum period of six months and a maximum of two years (id. art. 10(2) & (3)), but the legislation also includes some beneficial measures such as  parole for convicted individuals (id. art. 10(5)).  In cases of arbitrary occupation of real property, the prefect may order the imposition of additional police measures aimed at preventing the illegal occupation of property that would adversely affect public order.  (Id. art. 11(1).)

Amendments to the Existing Legislation on Local Entities

 Decree-Law No. 14 also amends the decree-law on the organization of local entities. (Decree-Law No. 267 of August 18, 2000, Consolidated Text on the Legislation Concerning the Organization of Local Entities, G.U. No. 227 (Sept. 28, 2000), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).) The amendments

  • provide that mayors and the presidents of provinces, as officials responsible for the administration of their respective communes and provinces, must adopt local ordinances when public sanitary or hygiene emergencies of an exclusively local character occur (L. No. 14, art. 8(1)(a)(1));
  • expand the powers of the aforementioned authorities to issue urgent ordinances establishing limitations on the supply of alcoholic beverages for a period not to exceed 60 days (id. art. 8(1)(a)(2)); and
  • allow the respective mayors to approve local ordinances for the prevention and elimination of serious dangers that threaten public safety and urban security, in particular situations that facilitate the creation of criminality or illegality, such as trafficking of narcotics, prostitution, begging with the use of minors or the disabled; that relate to abuse of real property such as the illegal occupation of public spaces; that involve violence; or that relate to actions connected to alcohol or drug abuse (id. art. 8(1)(b)(1)).

Amendment to the Criminal Code for the Damage of Property

Finally, the new legislation amends article 639 of the Criminal Code to provide that in the case of disfigurement or contamination of the property owned by another party, courts may impose on convicted individuals the obligation to repair the property and clean up the damage; if that is not possible, to cover or reimburse the expenses incurred; or, unless the felon opposes the measure (in which case it could be considered a violation of personal freedoms protected by the Italian Constitution and other international conventions ratified by Italy, including the Forced Labour Convention of 1930, ratified by Italy on June 18, 1934), to provide non-remunerated activities beneficial to the community for a period not to exceed the duration of the suspended penalty.  (Id. art. 16(1); Dei delitti contro il patrimonio [Crimes Against Property], Criminal Code, Book II, Title XIII (as last updated Nov. 23, 2016) (in Italian); Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (in force from May 1, 1932), NORMLEX.)