Law and order in Italy is the responsibility of five national police forces, and two local police forces. Together, these organisations employ over 300,000 officers, the highest number employed by any of the countries in the European Union.
- The two local forces are:
- Provincial Police (Polizia Provinciale):
This force is responsible for enforcing national and local hunting and fishing laws as well as some traffic regulations. They are not present in every province.
- Municipal Police (Polizia Municipale):
Each comune has a Municipal Police force, responsible for enforcing local regulations, traffic control and investigating petty crimes. They are also known as 'Polizia Comunale', 'Polizia Urbana' or 'Vigili Urbani'. In some regions the Provincial Police and the Municipal Police are grouped together as 'Local Police' (Polizia Locale).
The five national forces are:
- State Police - Polizia di Stato
- Finance Police - Guardia di Finanza
- Military Police - Arma dei Carabinieri
- Prison Police - Polizia Penitenziaria
- Forestry Police - Corpo Forestale dello Stato
There is an additional organisation, called The 'Direzione Investigativa Antimafia' (DIA) (Anti-Mafia Investigation Department) which is a cooperative venture between all five of the police forces which is charged with tackling organised crime.
Polizia di Stato
There are several divisions operating within the State Police force including:
- 'Polizia Stradale' or 'Polstrada', responsible for highway patrols
- 'Polizia Ferroviaria' or 'Polfer', responsible for the railways
- 'Polizia Postale', responsible for postal and internet communications
- 'Polizia di Frontiera', responsible for border controls, alongside the 'Carabinieri' and 'Guardia di Finanza'
A police station in Italy is called a 'Questura', and there is one located in each of the 103 provincial capitals of Italy.
In true Italian style, two 'Lamborghini Gallardo' supercars were donated to the Highway Patrol in 2004.
Italian Highway Patrol Lamborghini - Photo Rasevic
Guardia di Finanza
It is part of the Italian Armed Forces and maintains a fleet of 600 boats and ships and more than 100 aircraft to help protect Italy's international borders.
Arma di Carabinieri
After Italian unification, the Carabinieri became the 'First Force' of the new national military organization and played a significant part in both world wars. Although initially supporting Mussolini's fascist regime, they were ultimately responsible for his downfall.
In 2,000, they became the fourth element of the Italian Armed Forces and have since taken part in peace-keeping missions in Kosovo, Afganistan and Iraq.
About 80% of the force are deployed across Italy in five inter-regional, 19 regional and 102 provincial commands. In addition, they operate the 'Specialist Mobile Unit Division', which is based in Treviso and is responsible for public order, emergency situations and military activity overseas, and The ROS (Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale or Special Operational Group), which is an elite unit founded in 1990 to deal with the more complex types of crime such as the Mafia, state sponsored terrorism and other subversive activities. The ROS has a presence in every city in Italy.
These responsibilities include:
- Maintaining order inside prisons
- The protection of prisoners inside the system
- Preventing escapes
- Transporting prisoners to and from court and medical facilities
- Managing work and education programmes for inmates
As the Vatican City does not have a prison system, any convicted criminals are sent into the Italian prison system.
Corpo Forestale dello Stato
In addition, it is responsible for policing criminal activities such as poaching, violations of environmental legistlation and the production of counterfeit or unlicensed foods.
The force maintains 15 regional command centres that operate a fleet of 22 fire-fighting aircraft to prevent and fight wildfires.
The CFS can also be called upon for assistance in Italy's mountain areas and in disaster relief.