By and large, Venice is considered one of the safest cities in Europe. Venezia has a small size and aging population of approximately 259,000 when Mestre is included (by 2002 estimates), though by 2007 the population of Venice proper is estimated at no more than 65,000.  No doubt the small population contribute to this reputation of safety; not to mention that it also successfully counteracts the stereotype of violent behavior frequently associated with Italians.

Violent crime is very rare in Venice, and unlike other Italian cities (in particular, Rome) the police are not a highly visible presence, even in heavily populated tourist areas such as San Marco. A recent incident, for instance, involving the beating of a man after festivities in Venice's annual carnival was indeed uncommon.

That being said, caution and common sense should always be used by any tourist in any city, and Venice is no exception. While pickpocketing is not as rife as it is in other cities, it does occur in Venice.  It is always best to keep all your important belongings in secure pockets and bags, and be aware of your surroundings at all times--particularly when you are in heavily crowded areas, such as the Basilica di San Marco--and Venice can get very crowded!   

In Venice, it is highly unusual to be approached by "helpful" individuals who want to carry your bags, get a water taxi for you or lead you to your hotel. But be wary of this when it happens. These people will probably ask you for money after helping you.  Then, if you don't give them any money, or not the amount they're expecting, they can be very hard to get rid of. (When you want a water taxi, the direct approach is best: go right to the driver, who incidentally does not expect a tip on top of his high charges. Many of them speak English.)

One of Venice's few ongoing crime problems is the offer of counterfeit designer bags, belts and the like by unlicensed, surreptitious street vendors.  Unfortunately tourists may play right into this by buying the knock-off couture (like Prada or Louis Vuitton). As in every city in Italy, not only sellers, but also buyers of these goods are subject to heavy fines. Venice has recently implemented a program called "Bad Bag"--prominently displayed in English, so it is obviously directed at visitors--warning consumers not to buy bags from street vendors and perpetuate the organized crime and exploitation of underpaid workers. The local police are on the alert for the sale of these goods and if you are caught purchasing them, you may be taken to the police station.

From a health perspective, tap water is perfectly safe to drink; though many people prefer the taste of bottled water which is very widely available both in shops and in all restaurants and cafes. 

Mosquitos are a problem at certain times of the year (particularly susceptible people would say all times of the year).  It is suggested that repellent be included in your toiletries. However, currently malaria is not a problem in northern Italy.

Pharmacies (Farmacie) have a red or green cross above the door. A few are open on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and public holidays.  All pharmacies give more advice than is usual in the UK, and will supply drugs against a UK prescription.

Casualty/Emergency departments in hospitals (Pronto Soccorso) provide free emergency treatment for tourists.  EU citizens with the new permanent cards can obtain a free consultation from any doctor.

For urgent medical assistance at night there is a telephone number:  041 529 4060 in Venice; 041 526 7743 on the Lido; or 041 534 4431 in Mestre.