VIOLENT crime has hit a record low in Maryhill, making the area the safest it has ever been, says a police chief.

Murders in BE71 – Bravo Echo Beat 71, which covers Maryhill Kelvin and Canal – are down 64%.

By this time last year, police had dealt with 11 murders across the division. This year, four have been committed.

Serious assaults are also down 31%. There were 81 arrests by this time last year and this has dropped to 56.

Robberies, which are also an area of some concern to local police, are also down 23%, dropping from 47 incidents to 36 this year.

An increase in the number of sniffer dog patrols has also seen a decrease in the number of drug dealers and of drug offences.

A police spokeswoman said the significant reduction in crime had come as a direct result of a major, intelligence-led campaigns in the area.

Many of those have involved close working with housing associations, which police now believe is key to improving detection rates.

Joint initiatives in the Wyndford area and the Glenavon tower blocks led to an 82% drop in incidences of violent crime.

A campaign is continuing in Possil, with Ng Homes, formerly North Glasgow Housing Association.

The police have also started carrying out "warning" visits to the homes of offenders the day after they are released from jail.

Chief Inspector Ann Hughes, who took over the top job at BE71 this year, has led the recent "surge" in the division, which takes in Maryhill, Wyndford, Kelvindale, Gilshochill, Cadder, Summerston and Acre and the Forth and Clyde Canal.

She said: "I say this time and time again, but it is about being in the right place at the right time and targeting the right people.

"It's also about using all the tools we have.

"At the moment the Maryhill area is the safest it has been – but we are not complacent."

Drugs remain a key area of concern for police in the division, but progress is being made.

Chief Inspector Hughes said it was known that a number of significant drug dealers had moved out of the area.

She said: "If you are asking have we stopped it, the answer is no. Have we interrupted it? The answer is yes."

The police carry out regular patrols with dogs who are trained to detect people dealing in drugs, carrying drugs or have used drugs recently.

Officers carried out targeted patrols last week in Wyndford and Saracen Cross, a known drugs "hot spot".

For the first time, officers took Poppy, a four-year-old cocker spaniel up tower blocks in Wyndford in search of users and cannabis factories.

During the operation 39 people were stopped and searched after officers were alerted by Poppy.

While no-one was found with drugs, police said they may previously have been in possession of controlled substances.

Officers said they had also gathered new intelligence on the area's drugs scene.

Anecdotally, officers said the presence of the dog had decreased incidence of anti-social behaviour in known trouble spots.

Constable Kevin Mason, one of the force's dog handlers, carries out daily patrols with Poppy.

He is also the 'owner' of Eyce, an intimidating looking German Shepherd, for more serious incidents, such as searching for missing people.

He said: "We go out every day and cover the whole force area. It is a brilliant deterrent. They see the dogs. Within half an hour, we will have a lot fewer drug users on the streets. It also gives the public reasurrance."

The dogs go through an eight-week training course, based on 'rewards', such as a ball for drugs detection.

The police dog training centre is based in Pollok Park, but dogs go home with individual officers at the end of the working day, which enhances the working relationship.

It is not just people the dogs are focused on.

Constable Mason said: "A lot of drugs is stashed in street items, such as seats."