Law Enforcement

As in the UK, Italy has a range of police forces often with overlapping functions. Examples include:

  1. The State Police (Polizia di Stato) controlled by the Ministry of the Interior and much concerned with the implementation of civil law;
  2. The Carabinieri controlled by the Ministry of Defence but since 2017 incorporating the Corpo Forestale which (except within the five regions with special status) enforces the policies of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
  3. The Penitentiary Police (Polizia Penitenziaria) which runs the prisons and responds to the Ministry of Justice (once run on military lines but since 1990 a civilian organisation);
  4. The Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza), run on military lines, which deals with currency, financial and tax crimes and responds to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (like the Carabinieri, it can act as a judicial police force and deal with public security, customs and tax);
  5. The Coast Guard (Guardia Costiera), run on military lines within the Navy, which responds to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and can also act in judicial, environmental and technical-administrative maritime matters.
  6. The Municipal Police (Polizia Municipale) – once known as the Vigili Urbani (traffic wardens) – are funded and organised by individual comunes. Although generally associated with the management of traffic and speeding/parking issues they can also respond to drug related offences, crimes related to property and individuals, the protection of minors, crimes against the public administration and the environment, the fight against illegal trade, public security, counter-terrorism and the protection of public assets.

The Polizia di Stato and Carabinieri have widely overlapping crime detection and prevention functions which the Italian government has in recent years tried to rationalise. The current strategy is to give the Polizia di Stato responsibility for law and order in metropolitan areas and to make the Carabinieri responsible for law and order everywhere else.

Polizia di Stato

The Polizia di Stato is a very complex organisation with a very wide range of responsibilities. It includes the Polizia Stradale, Polizia di Frontiera, Polizia Ferroviaria and the Polizia Postale.

Within each HQ there are two Divisions and five offices as follows:

  • The anti-crime police including the Flying Squad
  • The administrative and social police
  • The cabinet office
  • The personnel office
  • DIGOS (Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali) – police department dealing with political security – Special Branch in other words
  • The administrative-accounting office
  • The health office

The HQ covering the Lunigiana is based at Massa and traditionally members of the public had to go there to get their ID documents and passports. More recently the organisationa has extended its administrative services to the comunes of Pontremoli, Aulla and Fivizzano (details here).

The only contact that UK nationals often have with the Polizia di Stato is when they apply for residence in which case they deal with the administrative and social division.


In their civilian law role the Carabinieri are responsible for fighting crime and for maintaining public safety, order and security.

In their military capacity, the Carabinieri have various tasks including acting as miltary police for all the armed forces, operating abroad for the restoration of international peace and security, and providing security for Italian diplomatic missions located abroad.

It is likely that UK nationals will come into contact with the Carabinieri under the following circumstances:

  • Reporting a road traffic accident
  • Reporting a theft
  • Being stopped for a spot check whilst driving a car.

The address of the barracks in Pontremoli is:

Comando d’Arma dei Carabinieri Pontremoli, via Groppomontone 1, 54027 Pontremoli MS

The facility is open 24hrs a day and can be contacted on 0187-463300.

Polizia Municipale

The Polizia Municipale are mainly concerned with minor traffic violations such as speeding, illegal parking and unauthorised entry into ZTL locations. They also manage traffic attending (or avoiding!) markets and one-off local events necessitating street closures.

From May 2021 the comunes of Filattiera, Bagnone, Villafranca and Pontremoli have combined their resources and operate from a centralised office at Pontremoli. Six officers are allocated to Pontremoli, two to Villafranca and one to Bagnone (Filattiera has no officers of its own but can call on those from the other comunes when necessary). The office is open between 9am and 12.30pm Monday to Saturday and is located in the Palazzo Comunale, Pontremoli (Tel: 0187.4601248).

Polizia Stradale

Polizia Stradale Offices, Pontremoli

The Polizia Stradale are a section of the Polizia di Stato with an HQ located in Massa. However, they have a sub-section in Pontremoli located immediately adjacent to the exit from Autostrada A15. The job of the Polizia Stradale is to patrol the autostrada and to deal with traffic violations, accidents and safety issues affecting state maintained roads. They escort large loads, monitor traffic flows and organise lane closures where road repair and/or maintenance is required.

The Pontremoli sub-section is open from 9am to 1pm Monday to Friday, its postal address being:

Questura (Sottosezione Polizia Stradale Pontremoli) a Pontremoli
Via della Sicurezza 3
54027 Pontremoli MS