Switzerland and Italy have set up a joint police and customs centre in canton Ticino in a bid to clamp down on cross-border crime.
The Swiss-Italian centre for police and customs cooperation - based in the town of Chiasso - will formally open in October and will have a staff of 30.
The centre's work will focus mainly on security issues, illegal immigrants and the implementation of a joint crime-fighting strategy.
Under the agreement, a Swiss liaison officer from the Federal Department for Justice and Police will be sent to Rome in March to assist in investigations into terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. An Italian liaison officer will be posted to Bern.
The move is being viewed as a significant step towards reinforcing collaboration between the two countries. Switzerland and Italy signed a police and customs cooperation agreement back in September 1998.
A Swiss delegation made up of both federal and cantonal representatives and led by Jean-Luc Vez, director of the Federal Department for Justice and Police, signed two extra protocols to the agreement on Monday.
According to the Swiss authorities, attention will also be given to "high risk" scenarios such as demonstrations or protests - crimes committed on one side of the border but which have repercussions for the neighbouring country.
Both countries have also highlighted the need to stem the increasing number of illegal border crossings and to boost disaster coordination in the event of floods or major accidents.
It is also hoped that the centre will lead to better exchanges of information between Italy and Switzerland, and that both countries will be able to respond quicker and more efficiently to crimes.
The costs for the new border centre will be shared between the two countries, with two-thirds of Switzerland's contribution coming from the government and the rest from the cantons.
Swiss and French police and customs authorities recently set up a similar crime coordination centre in Geneva.
This followed a crime wave in the Swiss city committed by gangs of youths from the French city of Lyon.
Swiss and German customs officers have also teamed up to conduct joint patrols along their shared border.
swissinfo with agencies
Key facts chiasso
Thirty officers from police, customs and justice authorities will work at the centre.
The centre follows on from a cooperation agreement signed in September 20 1998.
The two countries will cooperate on security, illegal immigrants, high risk scenarios and dual strategies to combat crime.
An attaché will also be sent to Rome.
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