Austrian and Italian police team up at Xmas market

Austrian police are cooperating with their Italian colleagues in a new pilot project.Carabinieri Lorenzo Galli and Paolo de Biasi will join Austrian police officers on patrol at the Christmas markets of Innsbruck, Tyrol, during the next few weeks.The Italian policemen said today (Fri) they will try to reduce communication troubles when their fellow countrymen become victims of pickpockets or struggle asking for directions.Tyrolean officials said Galli and de Biasi will not be armed, adding that the pilot project had the potential to be expanded onto the province’s slopes or its lakes in summertime.In a similar cooperation project, Austrian policemen assisted their Croatian colleagues in seaside resorts visited by tens of thousands of Austrians every summer this year and in 2009.Right-wingers have made clear they opposed the new partnership between Tyrolean and Italian police officers. Werner Königshofer of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) announced: “Austria’s police is capable handling the situation themselves. They don’t need assistance of foreign military police.”The Austrian retail trade loses out on around one per cent of turnover in the weeks before Christmas every year due to theft. Almost 30 per cent of offenders are children and teenagers, many of them sent to steal by their parents or organised crime gangs.Innsbruck’s Christmas markets are a popular tourist destination. People from all over the world come to the city, which is located in the heart of the Austrian Alps, to do their Christmas shopping at its markets and shops and to enjoy the festive atmosphere.Other well known Christmas markets in Austria are Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt and the many markets in federal capital Vienna. American news network CNN’s CNNGo portal even named the market in Salzburg as the fourth-best place to spend the festive season this year.