The long-awaited public security law arrives in Italy

After over fifteen years of having contrasted the need to regulate in the area of public safety, last 20 February the Decree law num.14 was passed with urgent public security provisions. The new regulations apply to the whole country; indeed, it is passed as an instrument of cooperation between the state, regions and localities. It seems to organise a kind of governance of public security to ensure that different territorial levels have to abide by cooperation agreements in this area. It is based on the concept of a considerably wide scope of “public security”, which reflects contributions from the latest related literature, which insists on mainstreaming security.

The legal text defines urban security as a public resource which encompasses cohabitation and decorum in cities (art. 4). In order to maintain this resource, actions aimed at the reclassification of degraded areas must be undertaken, marginalising factors and social exclusion must be eliminated, crime must be prevented, social cohesion must be promoted and the law must be respected. The state, regions and municipalities must collaborate in this type of interventions in accordance with their competences.

After this definition, the legal area would be revolutionised,[1] most measures included in the text, as some critics have stated,[2] are traditional ones, of a sanctioning nature or of situational prevention. For example, the power of mayors is increased in order to limit the timetable  for the sale of alcoholic drinks (art. 8) or it establishes the distancing of railway lines, airports, shipping and public transport from people who disrupt them or who prevent others from using them (art. 9). This measure seems to have been imported from sports regulations, which already foresaw the possibility of stopping those who have behaved violently from entering stadiums.

If this behaviour was repeated, the questor, the provincial public security authority in Italy, can ban entry into such venues for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 5 years.

The text also foresees the possibility of prohibiting certain professional activities for people who have been found guilty of certain types of crime, such as drug trafficking. The prohibition may include a ban on entering places related with these activities and parking in the neighbourhood (art. 13).

There are also specific powers attributed to the prefectes, state representatives in the province, which may give priority to vacating occupied buildings if they believe that its occupation endangers public safety. In this case, they can request the effective intervention of the police to ensure that it is vacated (art.11).

Everything suggests that the Decree Law will be validated soon by Parliament (possibly when this text is published it will have been passed), because other factors could lead to the fall of the government, bearing in mind the complicated political situation at the moment in Italy. Whether the opposition will ask for a commitment to modify it in the future remains to be seen.

[1] This is not so in the regulatory area, as ex-minister Maroni had already defined the Decree of 5 August 2008 in a similar way, a practice questioned by the Constitutional Court.

[2] See, for example, the brief article of Gian Guido Nobili in the magazine Il Mulino.


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