Giovanni Aliquò
Senior executive of the State police (Questore)

The system that oversees public and national security in Italy is particularly refined and complex. This system is the result of a series of selective process which was translated into law in 1981 for public security and in 2007 for national security. This system applied a model of relations between coordination and connection. The model follows a functionality that is flexible and democratic while enriched by an articulated system of international relations for security purposes. These institutionally and concretely promote a multi-level dialogue between different subjects so as to favor coherent, timely, and effective responses to risks and threats of various kinds and intensity in complex scenarios. This system is also structured to uphold and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens.

As they were designed and created in one of the most difficult moments of our country, that is at the end of the 1970s, these models have demonstrated their versatility and resilience against the most dangerous manifestations of common and organized crime, but which have also made it possible to adequately face domestic and international terrorism.

To understand how this objective has been reached in the system of public security in Italy, it is necessary to look at the history of our country and to consider the events that with the Italian Unification of 1861, led various territories and populations which were very different from each other to recognize each other in a unitary State. This started a path of a laborious effort to construct a national identity. In addition to several constitutional systems, some extremely diversified security systems were unified.

The turning point in terms of modernity and democracy for public security took place forty years ago with the Law of Reform of the Administration of Public Security n. 121 on April 1, 1981.

The law was profoundly innovative and encouraged unity with a strategic and open vision that was also quite modern. However, it was a system that still appeared to be institutionally fragmented and closed.

A plural but streamlined security system has been built based on the national authorities which are the Minister of Interior Affairs, a central authority which is the Chief of Police – Director General of Public Security, and a provincial authority which are the Prefect and the Quaestor. These are responsible for the complex network of Officers and Agents of Public Security which make up the Special and Civil Administration of Public Security, as well as the private networks of “complementary security”. It is important to state that this “network” does not only include the four State Police Forces which are the State Police, Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza, and Penitentiary Police but all those who in many public administrations hold the qualification of Public Security Officer.

Therefore, it is a very dense network that has come about thanks to the democratic and inclusive model of the coordination of all the potential in the Public Security Administration, becoming stronger over time by correlating with other public and private realities, as mentioned before. Given the effective coordination of the police forces and the connection with other realities, the tools have been refined to guarantee an ever wider social participation in the determination of policies and choices for security.

From the perspective of a rigidly hierarchical model for the security of the country which once reserved political and operational choices for small circles, we have moved to a transparent, tendentially open, efficient model, which has offered the possibility of pooling knowledge and indispensable experience of several institutional actors to be directed towards effective and precise responses to the new as well as ancient threats of our time.

Italy today has a strong, intelligently articulated, and resilient security apparatus, able to identify, analyze and face the most insidious risks to public safety. A reliable security system strongly anchored to the principles of a republican democracy whose components, in addition to receiving high appreciation from citizens, know how to team up among themselves and with all the other democratic institutions with attention to dialogue within European and international collaboration. A system that has been able to withstand many tests, over time, the last of which is the health emergency induced in the world by the COVID epidemic, starting from the end of 2019.

With specific regard to the impact that security can have on the economy, it has been necessary in Italy for some time to focus on how interconnected the aspects of the affirmation of legality are with those of the economic and social development of a country.

Moreover, it is evident that with the exclusion of those crimes affecting passionate or ideological impulses, or the expression of personality disorders, deviant choices are almost always dictated by economic calculation, or by the rational search for a profit that, in whole or in part, can only be obtained by violating rules to protect other interests, freedoms or rights, individual as well as social.

The relationship between the economy and crime, which demands a broader and more preliminary approach of social prevention by the public security authorities themselves, cannot also ignore the distortions that the criminal presence inevitably produces on the legal economy.

The risk is that in the absence of interventions to protect the State, the legal economy may succumb due to the objective impossibility of sustaining the impact of the infiltration of criminal logic and capital into productive and financial activities and to the “unfair competition” that could be produced by letting companies flourish that can unlimitedly draw on resources of illicit origin. The answer, precisely from this peculiar point of view, must be articulated in a simple way, in a framework characterized by very high complexity.

The risk of infiltration by organized crime of various types has led the Italian legislator to adopt a particularly effective regulatory apparatus, able to act effectively even in a preventive way with actions entrusted to the Prefects able to identify and neutralize immediately the attempts of criminal efforts to pollute the legal economy.

Since 1991, the General Council for the fight against organized crime has been established, a decision-making coordination body chaired by the Minister of the Interior and responsible for determining the general lines for the prevention and repression of criminal phenomena, with special reference to organized crime. In the same year, the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate was established, an inter-force body that has the task of analyzing the phenomena of organized crime, prefiguring its evolutionary lines, in order to prevent and more effectively counteract its manifestations on the territory.

In view of the recovery plans to be implemented after the COVID pandemic and the related opportunities for the legal economy, Italy promoted in May 2021 a new and dedicated inter-force structure called “Permanent body for monitoring and analysis on the risk of infiltration into the economy by mafia-type organized crime”. This body has the task of intercepting through the continuous monitoring of the national economic system and the sharing of information in the possession of the police forces for any possible initiative by organized crime, expansion, alteration of the market or pollution of the economic fabric and conditioning of public decision-making processes functional to the award of contracts and tenders.

Also in this case it is significant that the Founding Decree, with a choice of openness in harmony with the system, grants the faculty to the President of the Body and the Deputy Director-General of Public Security, to invite to the assembly various profiles from public and private bodies who have the competence to provide a cognitive and analytical contribution on the issues considered to be of interest.

To summarize, the Public Security Authorities which are entrusted with the powers of coordination and connection are, as we have mentioned before, as follows: the Minister of the Interior, who makes use of the Department of Public Security, and the Chief of Police who is at the head of public security have a central position. The Prefect and the Quaestor on the territory coordinate the tasks in their respective fields, including activities and services of the Officers and Agents of Public Security.

There are two State Police Force who have the competence to carry out the essential task of guarantee on the territory, these are the State Police and the Carabinieri. Solid conditions of legality and protection of public order within the framework of constitutional guarantees are the essential precondition for the establishment and prosperity over time of any economic initiative.

In addition to the two police forces with general competence, Italy has kept and enhanced the essential role of the other two “specialized” police forces with shared competence, these are the Guardia di Finanza and the Penitentiary Police.

The Guardia di Finanza Corps is a specialized police force, to which specific competencies are attributed in the field of economic, financial, and tax crime.

In this capacity, the Guardia di Finanza can also promote and develop international cooperation initiatives with foreign collateral bodies for the purpose of combatting economic and financial offenses and fighting money laundering.

In the framework of this dialogue, which has continued to become increasingly intense since 1981, the info-operational contribution also offered by the Penitentiary Police is fundamental. The Penitentiary Police can ensure peculiar and essential information flows both within the penal institutions and in relation to external criminal execution, thus enriching the activities derived from the other police forces.

If it is true that other countries can also count on more police forces for the order of the territory and for the fight against economic crime, Italy can count on a unique and proven system of “places” and means by which these forces have facilitated operational coordination, information exchange, the development of common strategies for rational integration with the national security system and with other territorial policies for social and economical development.

The Department of Public Security fulfills, as mentioned, an essential role in supporting the choices of the Minister of Interior Affairs and in the technical-operational coordination of all police forces. It is the “common home” of the police forces, a tool aimed at achieving high levels of optimization in the use of public resources to simplify decision-making processes and to face emergencies that may affect public order and security. Within the Department, all police forces play a fundamental role in the determination and implementation of public safety policies.

However, there are also “places” dedicated to information exchanges and the support of the Minister and other public security authorities. The National Committee of Public Order and Security at the center and the corresponding Provincial Committees on the territory in the first position.

These are advisory bodies respectively of the Minister and the Prefect for which the protection of public security, which in Italy is essentially identified in the guarantee of protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens. The same does not remain with particular reference to economic and social needs, which is a distant and abstract concept. The Provincial Committees are open to representatives of local authorities that are the mayors, but also where necessary to the voices of the representatives of the economic categories carrying civil and social interests worthy of protection.

The Quaestor participates in a “Technical Table” which is for the coordination of public order and security services, in addition to representatives of all the Police Forces and others belonging to the Public Security Administration. Participation is also extended to other public and private subjects whose participation can be a contribution, for example, economic and production stakeholders who are affected by particular criminal manifestations.

The Strategic Counter-Terrorism Analysis Committee was established in 2004 with the specific purpose of examining the threat of terrorism within the Ministry of Interior Affairs. It is chaired by the Central Director of the Prevention Police of the Department of Public Security. The activities are sharing and the common processing of information on the internal and international terrorist threats. In addition to the four State Police Forces, there are representatives of the Italian Intelligence Agencies, AISE, and AISI.

In relation to the threats of various kinds that may more directly affect particular production activities and essential infrastructures, the Italian system is traditionally structured in central Italy and throughout the territory to offer specific responses.

For example, the Railway State Police in Italy was established in 1907. This police unit has the specific task to protect the safety of rail transport. Italy has a railway network that extends about 16,700 km with 2,700 stations which moves more than 9,000 passengers and 800 freight trains every day. The Italian Public Security Administration dedicates particular attention to the railway sector as it is considered to be a crucial factor for the protection of freedom for citizens and the development of a Western country.

The same type of attention is given to road transport which is supervised by the Traffic Police. The national primary road network amounts to more than 450,000 km and 7,000 km are motorways. The internal circulation comprehends more than 42,000,000 vehicles facilitating a high volume of road transport for travelers and goods. The Traffic Police cover a wide range of services and responsibilities, including accident prevention, road accident detection, violations, and more specialized activities. These are traffic safety escort, traffic flow detection and regulation, and protecting public road heritage.

Another sector that has become of crucial importance for the security of economic activities is that of communications and cybersecurity. This sector has been appropriately overseen by the Italian legal system. The Postal and Communication Services Police which is part of the State Police has gradually taken on a more central role over time. The Postal and Communication Services Police specifies its role in the CNAIPIC which stands for National Anti-Cybercrime Center for the Protection of Critical Infrastructures, part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the security and compliance of telecommunications and related services.

Among the tasks and activities of this center, it also conducts prevention as well as IT and cyber protection from the risks posed by cybercrime. In particular, it carries out exclusively the activities of prevention and repression of computer crimes based on a common matrix, whether organized or terrorist, which aims at the computerized infrastructures of a critical nature and of national importance.

The CNAIPC is therefore strongly integrated with the newly established National Cybersecurity Agency, established in June 2021. This structure takes on the role of the National Authority for Cybersecurity and reports directly to the President of the Council of Ministers, standing on the competencies of the Minister of the Internal Affairs as a National Public Security Authority. This gives rise to extensive coordination powers to ensure cyber security and resilience within the most important public and private sectors.

It is also responsible for the promotion and implementation of common actions aimed at cyber security and resilience for the development of the digitization of the country, the production system, and public administrations. The Agency has taken on many different types of competence in the field of prevention and cybersecurity which were previously dispersed among various decision-making centers. The special tasks of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Defense have converged with the Agency creating a strong synergy of know-how and expertise.

The Italian national legislator was guided in the adoption of recent measures on cybersecurity for much more than rationalization and systemic simplification. The strategic decisions for national security relating to the security of digital networks and computer systems on Italian territory have gone much further, remaining united under the constant parliamentary democratic control and the responsibility of the President of the Council of Ministers,

The philosophy of Law no. 121/1981, in fact, has been confirmed above all in this sector. It shows that the awareness with the full involvement of several actors, also through the promotion of public-private partnership initiatives, makes it possible to develop and make effective the national capacities. These capacities include prevention, monitoring, detection, analysis, and response to safeguard and effectively manage IT security risks and incidents, as well as cyber attacks of any nature.

Actually, the Italian Police Forces are called upon to oversee many other sectors of public security, often in a position of functional dependence on public administrations other than those of their respective charge. They are called upon to give support in technical-administrative topics and issues. However the cornerstone remains even in this case, and the unitary coordination of the public security authorities allows for interaction with public and private subjects.

The “model of coordination” established by Law no. 121/1981 has proved to be of high validity to the point that it has been a sort of model for the management of other issues, as seen in the example of the National Council for the fight against counterfeiting and Italian sounding. It is an interministerial body – outside the special perimeter of public security – established at the Ministry of Economic Development in 2009 and reinforced in 2019. The Board has the functions of guidance, impulse, and coordination of the strategic actions undertaken by each administration to improve the whole of the administrative action of counterfeiting at the national level and the false attribution of Italian origin. This effort is put forward to protect industrial property and Italian products on international markets.

Having to ensure the interaction among a number of Administrations including that of Internal Affairs for the prevention and administrative contrast of a phenomenon that strongly affects economic activities, the legislator preferred the organizational model of coordination. This type of coordination provides a channel for representatives of all public administrations as well as categories of companies, workers, and consumers.

When it comes to safety and business, the dialogue between administrations, citizens, and participation for the affirmation of legality is a model with a strongly Italian brand.