The Italian Almanac

camera at work

Italian News - September 22

The watchword is “dissuasion”, the declared purpose of the CCTVs that Rome city council plans to install in the streets of the capital most affected by prostitution.The announcement was made yesterday by the mayor, Walter Veltroni, after a meeting in the Prefecture following days of protests and sit-ins by residents in various parts of the city.“We will site the CCTVs to monitor traffic violations”, explained Mr Veltroni, “but they will be mounted in such a way as to be able to follow an incident if it moves.Photographs may be used if crimes are committed”.

This is the crackdown that Rome was waiting for after months of promises and mass round-ups which saw hundreds of prostitutes of eastern European origin detained, identified and then released. The city authority’s campaign comes after demonstrations by residents of Piazza dei Navigatori, and the death of a man in a traffic accident on Via Salaria caused by the double-parked cars of prostitutes’ clients.Trials are set to begin in these two areas, and in the eastern suburbs.

The initiative marks a sea change in policy with fines for obstructing traffic, warning signs on the streets selected for CCTV monitoring and raids by municipal police.But there is more.“We’ve had enough of clients going with young girls, who can sometimes be seen on the street still clinging onto dolls”, said Mr Veltroni, urging “greater effort from police”.

Only last night, police officers detained 250 prostitutes, more than half of whom were sixteen years old.“Anyone who goes with a minor is committing a very serious offence and from now on will be prosecuted.We have passed the danger level”, added the prefect, Achille Serra, who also proposed “two-pronged legislation to limit prostitution, since police powers of intervention have been nullified, and to assist the women who are victims of exploitation and violence”.