home  › Government policies

Rome’s Jubilee security plan kicks off today

by Andrea Marini

The security plan to keep Rome safe during the Jubilee of Mercy -- an extraordinary Holy Year to start on December 8 and last until November 20 2016 -- kicks off today.

The plan was devised by Rome's prefecture (in Italy, an office representing the government in any province) and by Rome's police provincial headquarters --which manages the province's police forces from a technical and operational perspective.

Overall, 2,000 police deployed across Rome will ensure security throughout the Holy Year.
In the wake of ISIS's attacks in France, terror alert levels are at their highest.

However, Rome's chief of police Nicolò D'Angelo underlined that “We are not at the same levels France is, and we are not enforcing a curfew.”

Antiterrorism force and special corps have been alerted too. Response plans for bacteriological or gas-based attacks have been prepared.

Rome's prefect Franco Gabrielli has spoken with regard to the several unfounded bomb alarms that over the last few days occurred in the city, especially on the underground, causing distress and delays to citizens and tourists alike.

“I am expecting that these alarms will grow in number,” he said. “We will have to deal with that.”

So more distress is to come, also because, as the police chief explained, “when someone reports a suspected explosive device, we must verify that claim.”

The risk of bomb scares is increasing: according to a survey by Ixè, 66% of Italians fear an attack during the Holy Year. One week ago, that percentage was 38%.

In order to monitor the city, its territory will be divided in three areas, from the outskirts to the highest security zone.

But there will not be any “red zone” with extreme restrictions to access. There will be an enhanced patrolling , including in the suburbs , and patrols will operate also on the public transport system.

The surveillance of the main hotspots -- from St Peter's Square and other major churches, to the Colosseum and the Olympic Stadium -- will be increased, and metal detectors will be employed there.

Yesterday, the Pope's Angelus message and the Lazio-Palermo football game were a sort of dry run for the new systems of surveillance and security in St Peter's Square and at the stadium.

Crowded venues -- such as concerts, or large malls -- and nightlife areas are under the spotlight. B&B and short-term renting services will be also monitored, as they are harder to check than hotels, when it comes to registering tourists.

The sky over the city will be watched, too: a no-fly-zone will be enforced over the whole area of Rome.

The current situation, though, does not call for the deployment of antiaircraft systems. Intelligence and prevention will be leveraged to prevent light aircraft and drones to fly in the city. The prefect will evaluate whether it is necessary to adopt other measures , such as a radar system on the ground, or the shoot-down of light aircraft and drones that do not respect the rules.