Mardi Gras crackdown in crime

As the carnival kicked off at the weekend, and is likely to be the safest yet with 50,000 police deployed.

With huge amounts of tourist flocking to the worlds biggest Mardi Gras; nearly 800,000 tourists and most of Rio’s six million population attending the samba extravaganza, this year 50,000 police have been deployed to cut down on crime in the city.

In a further bid to create a safer environment 30 surveillance cameras have been installed – targeting pick-pocketers and muggers, as well as monitoring the crowds.

The Rio Carnival is the most fabulous of its kind, and a benchmark to which every other carnival is compared, the entire country stops for almost a week for the festivities. Which includes one of the most stunning parades in the world.

Starting of the celebrations was the crowning of the carnival King, followed by parades including children’s schools from the area.

Unlucky elite samba group Portela, saw most of their floats and costumes destroyed in a devastating fire, but having never missed a parade in its 84 year history they still put on an impressive performance.

Celebrities spotted enjoying the partying included Pamela Anderson, Gisele Bundschen and Jude Law.

Some of the revellers say they have already noticed the difference in atmosphere as a result of the police work in the months leading up to Mardi Gras 2011.

‘The re-taking of the slums has improved the Carnival atmosphere a lot,’ said one Brazilian dancer. ‘Before it was a problem, there were muggings, but now people feel much safer,’ he said.

Rio authorities are also trying to repair the city’s reputation for crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Rachael Chew