But now police in the capital Rome have enlisted the power of
social media to help them get to grips with the endemic problem.
Citizens who spot illegally parked cars can alert a dedicated police
Twitter account, @PLRomaCapitale. The police then reply to say when
they have taken action — typically in a matter of hours.
The new head of the urban police force Raffaele Clemente says that
the initiative aims to create a cultural shift.
"Sharing, such as on social networks, is needed to fight certain
patterns of illegality and rule-breaking, and also of crime," he
Congestion is a serious problem in the capital. In the past,
authorities have been forced to limit car access when pollution
caused by exhaust fumes reached potentially dangerous levels.
Over a half of Romans use private transport and the city has one of
the world's most car-dense populations, with about 70 cars per 100
Add this to a culture of rule-breaking and cobbled streets that wind
along a narrow, often medieval street pattern, and chaos can ensue.
Photos flagged to police by Rome residents show cars parked in
zig-zags across pedestrian crossings and pavements.
A common problem is double parking, where vehicles pull up beside
those already parked on the sides of the road. Rows of cars
four-thick can form, leaving only a narrow gap for the traffic to
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"In Cola di Rienzo street barbarity reigns ... Intervene!" wrote one
user this week.
Seven hours later the police replied to say they had intervened: 25
separate fines had been handed out.
Initial skepticism among Twitter users about whether the system
would work gave way to messages of thanks once penalty notices were
One user posted a photo of the police giving out fines under the
rain. "Thank you and go on like this!" wrote another.
(Reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio; writing by Naomi O'Leary;
editing by Sophie Hares)
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