World Cup 2014: Brazil prepares for 'most heavily policed' tournament ever

 

The World Cup in Brazil could be the "most heavily policed" ever as the authorities try to clamp down on anti-government protests during the tournament, according to an analysis of the security risks released today.

A 170,000-strong security force – larger than Britain's armed forces – is being deployed around the country. And to prevent a repeat of last summer's violent protests, when more than a million people took to the streets, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency has set up regional intelligence centres in the 12 cities that are hosting World Cup games.

About $840m (£500m) is being spent on security – nearly five times as much as the $175m security budget at the World Cup in South Africa – according to a study by IHS Country Risk. The report cites street crime as "the main concern in the host cities".

Brazil's annual murder rate is 26.2 per 100,000 people, compared to 1.2 per 100,000 in Britain, but this disguises huge regional differences. Recife and Salvador, two of the cities hosting World Cup games, "rank as two of the most murderous cities in the whole country" with homicide rates of 57.9 and 55.5 per 100,000 respectively.

Dr Laurence Allan, the head of Latin America analysis at IHS Country Risk, said the amount being spent on defence and security would help to balance the "far higher rates of criminality" which Brazil has, compared to Britain. "It may well be the most heavily policed World Cup ever," he said.

"Our view is that fears that it's going to be a World Cup where security is a major problem are definitely overplayed."

This includes the idea of a "terrorist spectacular", he added. "Brazil has got no real history of that, and who are the groups that are going to make that happen in Brazil? Of course it's not impossible but it seems unlikely," he said.

"Our assessment is that the vast majority of visitors should not face any particularly elevated risks. If you were the victim of an armed robbery and you resisted, then your risks of being seriously hurt are obviously higher in Brazil than here because of the normality of firearms being around."

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