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Because, although the Vatican does have its own laws, it does not make any economic sense to have a full enforcement system. Most of the crime is pickpockets on the public square. Italy already has a police and prison system and can easily handle the one or two more cases a year that are above petty crime:

Under the terms of article 22 of the Lateran Treaty, Italy will, at the request of the Holy See, punish individuals for crimes committed within Vatican City and will itself proceed against the person who committed the offence, if that person takes refuge in Italian territory. Persons accused of crimes recognized as such both in Italy and in Vatican City that are committed in Italian territory will be handed over to the Italian authorities if they take refuge in Vatican City or in buildings that enjoy immunity under the treaty.

Vatican City has no prison system, apart from a few detention cells for pre-trial detention. People convicted of committing crimes in the Vatican serve terms in Italian prisons (Polizia Penitenziaria), with costs covered by the Vatican.


In case it isn't obvious: Italy is the country that fully surrounds the Vatican. The Vatican is inside Italy and has no borders with any other country. It also shares other systems with Italy, for example it is one of very few independent countries without their own airports.

When you are there, there are no borders. You do not notice when exactly you enter Vatican territory. The police patrolling are Italian police. People speak Italian. Nobody will ask you for a passport. You just turn a street corner and, suddenly, you've crossed into the Vatican.

  • It is also compleatly inside the city of Rome, which it was a part of before the1929 Lateran Treaty. Dec 4, 2022 at 13:59

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