In the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure, interception is qualified as a “typical means for proof research”. And it is a crucial tool because it helps not only to identify criminals, but most importantly, to uncover the network of formally licit communications between politicians, entrepreneurs, and the underworld. A network that otherwise would be impossible to define because its public acts are often equally unexceptionable.
Nevertheless, those operations have a cost and it is not low. In 2014 the Ministry of Justice has spent as much as 250 million euros for interceptions. The report on the status of the court expenses, submitted by the congregation located in the Arenula street to the Parliament and concerning the last year and the first half of 2015, has been thoroughly examined by AdnKronos. Interesting data came out of this examination. Numbers show a constant trend from 2012, when the expenditure was similar, whereas in 2013 there was a slight decrease, with a steady expense of 237 million. As to 2015, the available data stop at the first quarter and report that payments were made for an amount of 70 million so far.
More specifically, in 2014, for interception of conversations and communications were allocated 227 million 801 thousand 120 euros, but at the end of the year the actual expenditure of about 250 million. However, if we project our sight even further into the past than highlighted above, the trend of the expenditure appears lower, passing from 300/280 million during the years 2009 and 2010, to about 260 million in 2011, finally going down to 250 million.
As to the current year, 200 million had been allocated, whereas the expected expense – grounded in forecasts – can be quantified in approximately 235 million euros. An estimation, the report explains, that makes reference to the expenditure of the first quarter, about 70 million, as well as to the last three years.
As far as interceptions are concerned, as well other expenditure for Justice, we must keep in mind – claims the document sent from the Arenula street – that it is not possible to predict with accuracy what the expenses in a given year will be, since this kind of expenditure is strongly affected by unpredictable procedure requirements and by the time it takes to the courts to pay the invoices (which happens upon the magistrate’s decree). The latter, in their turn, are affected by the chronic shortage of administrative and accounting personnel”.
In any case, the ministry foresees a decree, through implementing financial rules that aim at the reduction of the costs for the interceptions which followed one another during the last years. Thus, the decree 95, in 2012 asked of the congregation from the Arenula street savings not lower than 25 million for the same year, and of 40 million starting from 2013.
But already in 2008 the financial act provided for the ministry of Justice to begin during the same year “the creation of a unified national system, articulated on the basis of the district Court of Appeals, the interception of phone calls, environmental and other forms of communication or telematics arranged or authorized by the judicial authority, also through measures of rationalisation of the activities currently conducted in the administrative offices of justice”.
The norm, not yet implemented, “has not precluded however – writes the ministry report – to start monitoring the leasing expenditure of the single judicial offices for the apparatuses needed for interception. As already known, in fact, the cost of the services provided by the rental companies to the State is not regulated and therefore there is still a real possibility that rental services necessary for the investigations can be accessed by the offices at prices that are all but uniform.
“In view of rationalizing the costs and while awaiting the adoption, at the regulatory level, of a unique national system, monitoring the expenditure will allow next month to provide judicial offices with useful information about the minimum and maximum prices in concrete market contexts for the same kind of service. It is very likely that the diffusion of a price list containing the main rental services concerning technologies will give origin to virtuous mechanisms and practices that will aim at the containment of the future costs of such rental services. Interceptions are fine, but they must be parsimonious. In the end, it is citizens’ money that are being spent.