But, as DAVID LEASK discovers, 'Mugging Capital of Scotland' no longer applies
GLASGOW was long Scotland's mugging capital. Not any more. The number of robberies, most of them on our streets, have plunged in recent years.
Plunged so far, in fact, that the robbery rate in the old Strathclyde Police area was last year lower than Edinburgh-based Lothian and Borders.
Police insiders in the west beam when they see the astonishing progress made on cutting a crime that still instils terror in many.
There were four robberies in the old Strathclyde for every 10,000 people in 2012-13, compared with five in Lothian and Borders.
The west of Scotland figure, however, remained Scotland's second highest.
But that rate has halved from eight for every 10,000 people as recently as 2007-2008.
Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, local police commander for the Greater Glasgow division of the new national force, reckons this is the stand-out achievement of the old Strathclyde.
He said: "The reductions in robberies has been significant, particularly street robberies. A lot of that is down to pro-activity and going to areas where these robberies where taking place such as the city centre on the early hours of a Friday or Saturday morning."
Strathclyde had also imposed the investigative vigour to robberies that used to be reserved for murders and rapes. A crack robbery squad was set up, massively increasing detections.
Mr Bates said: "The number one important thing is prevention. But when a robbery does happen, I want to make sure I have team who are suitably skilled to know who to look for.
"We identify robbers as soon as we can. And when we do capture them we get them off the streets as quickly as we can. We are regularly catching prolific robbers and putting them a way for a long time. That has a huge impact.
"We carefully monitor prisoner releases so we know when robbers are coming out - and they can expect a visit from us.
"We are playing our part in making sure these offenders do not become re-offenders."
High-viz policing and the intensive stop searches have had a particular impact within city boundaries.
THERE were 499 robberies or attempted robberies in Glasgow in 2012-13, more than one a day, most street robberies of muggings.
That is a lot. But the figure compares with 676 in 2011-12 and 1264 in 2006-2007, when the Evening Times began our Crime on Your Street investigation. That is a decline of 60% in seven years.
The drop is even more impressive in the city centre, the area defined by the M8 to the north and west, the Saltmarket and High Street to the east and Clyde to the south. There were 122 in this area - the commercial heart of Scotland - in 2012-13, down from 142 a year before and 368 in 2006-2007.
Robbery and attempted robbery are violent crimes. But they, of course, are carried out for material gain. Police for years after the financial crash had been bracing themselves for a huge rise in non-violent acquisitive crime - thieving. But this increase has never materialised.
Take housebreaking. There were 4042 in Glasgow in the financial year when our banks went bust - 2007-2008 -and the recession began. There was almost exactly that number in 2012-13, 4032. Figures have been up and down since but are at roughly the level of a century ago.
Shoplifting - another crime widely predicted to soar - has yo-yo-ed since the financial crash. Back in 2007-2008 there were 5570, last year there were 5326. Common thefts are down from pre-crash levels. So too - again despite widespread predictions of white collar crime - is fraud.
Mr Bates said: "We thought there would be more acquisitive crime. I suppose there is a positive story there. The most obvious reductions have been vehicle crime. Cars are more difficult to steal. There is less in them worth stealing. You can no longer steal the radio cassette.
"People are becoming more worldly wise about their sat navs - which caused much of the peak in thefts from cars in 2007 and 2008."
But Mr Bates also believes the same targeted high-viz police tactics that he believes are pushing down violence are also deterring theft.
He said: "We know, for example, that people will be parking their cars near Ibrox, Celtic Park or Hampden on a Saturday so we patrol those areas. Acquisitive crime has not stopped. But the downward trend is still positive.
"I think this has a lot to do with visibility. We have lots of feet in the streets and lots of yellow jackets."
People, Mr Bates, reckons are also getting cannier. "This is one for sociologists," he said.
BUT I think people are now more conscious about protecting what they have because it is hard earned.
"When you have your 42in colour telly you protect it."
This concern for protecting goods affects retailers too. They, Mr Bates stressed, have adopted straight-forward tactics to foil shoplifters, such as moving expensive coats away from doors.
Companies, after all, can't afford to shed stock. So the recession, police logic goes, may in fact be cutting acquisitive crime.