Criminal liability of civil protection operators for activities related to risk assessment, forecasting and risk management


Project description 


The collaboration between ASGP and CIMA Foundation (International Centre for Environmental Monitoring) is aimed at carrying out research on the criminal liability profiles of civil protection operators, with reference to the assessment, forecasting and management of the risk related to the occurrence of natural events


The issue of monitoring and criminal assessment of civil protection activities is an issue that, over the last decade, has become increasingly important. Originally the subject of a little number of jurisprudential pronouncements, essentially referring to macro-events or disasters of exceptional importance, the activity in question is now subject to strict criminal control, as shown by the exponential increase in the number of proceedings dedicated to it. 

In addition to the purely quantitative data - always of uncertain interpretation, but no less relevant for this reason - it is also necessary to consider the outcome of some of these trials, which ended with sentences of not insignificant prison sentences and which also established behavioural models that place extremely heavy burdens on individual agents. 

In this regard, it is appropriate to consider how the parties required to assess, forecast and manage the risk related to meteorological events find themselves operating in a context of particular difficulty and characterised by inevitable uncertainty, determined by current technological limits. The activity of the single operator is then inserted within a complex system, in which the interaction between different figures, belonging to different realities, represents a further trap. 

In the face of this, the expectation nourished by the community is based on extremely rigorous standards, since false alerts are generally badly tolerated, while the lack of alerts, if they have caused damage to things or people, inevitably triggers the search for the classic "scapegoat". 

In the light of this scenario and the related negative repercussions it has on the proper functioning of the National Civil Protection Service, triggering defensive behaviour, the issue of criminal control over civil protection activities is no longer limited to courtrooms alone, but has first won the attention of scholars and then that of the legislature itself, which in 2018 intervened with the approval of Legislative Decree no. 1 of 2 January 2018 (Civil Protection Code). 

Although the general regulatory reorganisation brought about by the Code represents undoubted progress, the hoped-for intervention in the field of operator liability - although provided for by the delegated law - has remained unimplemented. Therefore, this gap, combined with the continuing tendency to give little emphasis to investments in structural prevention and to the extremes of adverse events, resulting from the ongoing climate change, represents a criticality of no small moment. 
In these conditions it is easy to foresee how the civil protection sector will continue to be one of those most exposed to the risk of criminal liability. 

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