The carabinieri have served Italy for 200 years in a fashion similar to other gendarmeries. Indeed when one considers matters the similarities between it and the now defunct Royal Irish Constabulary are striking. Neither force attracts recruits from particularly prosperous backgrounds; service is seen as a way to improve ones lot in life. Policemen must not serve in their home district; for almost the first decade they are internal exiles! And the service has extremely rigorous rules concerning the matrimonial complications which men might undergo; wives were seen as an uneccessary distraction and could only be ‘taken on’ by the policeman when they had sufficient resources to support them!
But the similarities do not
end there. Indeed service in both the Italian and Irish forces was seen as respectable and character affirming, a way in which young men could distance themselves from violent anti-state actors and groups such as communists, organised crime and the fenians.
But the police were not without their critics, some claiming that they were heavy handed (both possessed quasi military attributes, the RIC being the sole non-military armed police force in the British Isles, the Carabinieri being a section of the Italian Armed Forces proper). On a lighter note, they also drew attention from caricaturists pens with the constables being portrayed with ridiculous moustaches (there was a conflicting series of regulations concerning their existence) and regularly appearing as dumbfounded brutish figures in periodicals like Punch.