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Web Alert: Italy clarifies position on employment of private armed guards on Italian-flagged vessels

04 November 2013

On 19 October 2013 the Italian Public Security Department of the Ministry of the Interior released a circular clarifying Italy’s position relating to the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board Italian-flagged vessels.
 
Prior to the release of the circular, Italian-flagged vessels were restricted to using personnel from the Italian Navy. Now, owners of Italian-flagged merchant vessels are able to employ PCASP on their vessels, provided that the following criteria are met:
 

  • Italian Naval personnel are unavailable;
  • The vessel will be transiting a high risk area;
  • The vessel is properly equipped against piracy as per the recommendations of BMP4. 

If the above criteria are met, shipowners are able to apply for authorisation for the use of PCASP on board their Italian-flagged vessels.
 
Under the new system, shipowners may use guards under their own employment or those provided by a private maritime security company (PMSC). In both cases, the guards must be authorised to provide such services and must comply with the requirements of article 3, paragraph 2 of Italian Decree 266/2012 of 28 December 2012.
 
Obtaining authorisation for the use of PCASP is a two-step process. First, approval must be sought for the weapons and associated equipment to be used by the guards. Secondly, approval is required for the 'technical regulation' of the security services, which deals with the rules governing the PCASPs’ behaviour on board, including the rules for the use of force. 
                                                                              
Authorisation to use PMSCs based in Italy
For PMSCs based in Italy, the shipowner (or their representative) has to obtain authorisation for the use of weapons from the prefect office or police administration in the area in which the shipowner’s head office is located. The application for approval should be made by e-mail.
 
Once issued, authorisation will last for either two or three years depending on the type of weapons to be used on board. Authorisation can be renewed by e-mailing details of the voyage (such as weapon type, date of transit, ports of embarkation/disembarkation etc) to the relevant authority at least 72 hours before the commencement of the security services.
 
Finally, approval of the ‘technical regulation’ of the security services should be obtained from the police administration in the area where the PMSC is based (or where the vessel is registered if the shipowner opts to use guards under its own employment). 
 
Authorisation to use PMSCs based in other EU Member States
PMSCs based in other EU Member States must be authorised in advance by the Public Security Department of the Ministry of the Interior.
 
Further, the PMSC should obtain authorisation for the use of weapons from the police administration in the area where the shipowner using the PMSCs’ services is based. Approval for the ‘technical regulation’ of the security services provided by the PMSC should also be obtained from the local police administration. 
 
PMSCs based in non-EU Member States
Under the current Italian rules, PMSCs based in a non-EU Member States do not appear to be authorised to operate on board Italian-flagged merchant vessels.

Piracy experts