Opposition outcry as Italy legalises vigilante patrols

Opposition outcry as Italy legalises vigilante patrols

Silvio Berlusconi's government, which has already put several thousand soldiers on the streets of Italy, will tomorrow legalise vigilante patrols and set out the guidelines under which they will operate.

The plans prompted an outcry from opposition politicians and police unions, but got a mixed reception from Italy's mayors, who must decide whether they want law enforcement volunteers in their towns. An overwhelming majority of those in favour run cities in the north, where the anti-immigrant Northern League has long argued for wider use of vigilantes.

The interior minister, Roberto Maroni, a member of the Northern League, denied that the plan was to introduce vigilantism to Italy: "The decree does not create [vigilante] patrols; it regulates them."

After rejecting the scheme, Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, a former neo-fascist, appears to have embraced it. The head of his council's security committee, Fabrizio Santori, said vigilantes in flurorescent jackets would be deployed in parks, outside schools and at tourist sites.

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