Matteo Biffoni

Mayor of Prato (Italy), President of the Italian Forum for Urban Security (FISU)

he Mayor of Prato (Italy), Matteo Biffoni, a 47-year old lawyer, is President of the Italian Forum for Urban Security (FISU). He also is Delegate of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) for Immigration (since 2014), President of ANCI Tuscany (since 2015), and President of Cittalia, the ANCI Foundation dedicated to spreading the culture of hospitality, integration and citizenship (since July 2021). He was a Member of the Italian Parliament in 2013-2014, before resigning in order to run for the mayoral elections in Prato. 


Do you have any specific hopes or predictions for the future of urban security? 

I hope that in the near future, urban security policies will be systematically supported by different kinds of operations and different institutional stakeholders at local, national and transnational level (European Union, State, regional authority, local authorities, the various police forces, educational agencies, private individuals with volunteer associations etc.) and the coordination and integration among all these elements will contribute, with a system logic completely antithetical to emergency interventionism, to the creation of a veritable local governance of safety. In this glocal governance of urban security, the priority area of action for regional and local authorities is that of prevention: by acting on crime factors even before there are danger signals, or by intervening in situations where there’s already a risk.


What will urban security look like in 30 years? 

Urban security will increasingly become a question of interventions of situational prevention (surveillance and control, including by means of technologicy), social prevention and local community prevention, which will include the local communities themselves as main players and stakeholders, accountable in new associative models and in new forms of solidarity.


What will be the main opportunities and risks?

This integrated approach to safety has at its heart the local social stakeholders, valuing their contribution in terms of both understanding local needs and sharing responsibilities related to the care of places and relationships. The involvement of local people and social players in fact strengthens the sense of “presence” of the community in the local area, recognizing the role of protection and the support of the perception of greater safety. This recognition produces, on the one hand, the need to provide for forms of involvement of these actors in the preventive analysis and in the subsequent planning of interventions for control and social protection and, on the other, the opportunity to establish clear limits in the roles and in the exercise of the functions related to the control of the territory. In fact, any form of active vigilantism that attempts to operate alongside the police, assuming functions of repressive deputising, must be avoided. Therefore, integrated safety, including the part that concerns the control of the territory, must be interpreted as the search for new forms of cooperation and collaboration in the field of prevention and citizen protection, defining effectively and appropriately the roles of the different players.


Why do you think it is so important to involve citizens in urban security practice?

Urban security is created by active and interested communities that see the public space as their own and take care of it. It is created by strong social bonds that promote social solidarity and spontaneous control.