Decrease in city youth street crime

COMPLAINTS about public boozing more than halved this summer.

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  • Down the drain: police dispose of confiscated alcohol taken off street drinkers
    Down the drain: police dispose of confiscated alcohol taken off street drinkers
  • Down the drain: police dispose of confiscated alcohol taken off street drinkers

The number of calls to Strathclyde Police about people drinking in the street dropped dramatically in the period from April to October this year compared with the same six months last year.

There were 3392 complaints over the period, down from 7919, in yet another sign of the west of Scotland's quiet summer.

Strathclyde Police, according to fresh statistics for the first half of the financial year, also recorded a drop of 31% in the number of public complaints about youth disorder to a still substantial 12,466.

The figures come after dramatic reductions in serious violent crimes revealed by the Evening Times before Christmas.

Police sources are keen to stress that their partners in youth social work have also played a huge role.

Glasgow Community and Safety Services has carried out much of that work: setting up programmes such as kickabouts for youngsters in areas most affected by public drinking and youth disorder.

A spokeswoman for the organisation, which is a joint venture by Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City Council, said: "The figures are very encouraging.

"Activities provided by our hot spot intervention teams are proving very popular with young people mainly aged between 12 and 18.

"Our mobile sports facilities for football and basketball visit communities across the city every Thursday and Friday evening.

"We also work with other community organisations to provide health and beauty activities for girls and with Cash for Communities to promote sports such as badminton.

"This work, coupled with the use of our mobile CCTV vans and partnership with Strathclyde Police, are paying dividends.

"Projects such as these boost young people's confidence, encourage them to engage constructively with adults and steer them towards positive life choices."

The Evening Times Crime on Your Street series, published in October, confirmed huge drops in offending by children and teenagers in Glasgow.

In 2011-12 some 808 children were "referred" to Scotland's Children's Hearing System, most of them for offending once or twice.

That figure was down 72% from 2918 in 2006-2007.

But, as we revealed, it was not only the number of children who offend that is falling. The amount of offending is also down, by 38%, since 2007-2008.

Crucially, the number of youngsters under 16 caught with knives in the entire Strathclyde force area has dropped 75% in six years.

Of course, children and teenagers account for only a proportion of anti-social behaviour.

Police chiefs in recent years have heavily targeted street drinkers of all ages –dishing out record numbers of fines to adults.

The number of street drinking offences recorded – it is a breach of Glasgow bylaws – has increased as the number of complaints about anti-social behaviour has gone down.

Police insiders stress they are not just targeting public drinking for its own sake, however annoying it may be.

They believe that the more people they stop getting drunk in the streets early in the evenings, the fewer they have to detain for more serious crimes later at night.

Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton of Strathclyde Police said: "Any form of anti-social behaviour can have a detrimental impact on people's lives.

"Our officers talk regularly to members of the public about their concerns and proactively – along with our partners – target problem community areas.

"We will then take appropriate action against those responsible.

"This approach has had a positive impact and has resulted in a reduction in the number of reports of street drinking and youth disorder."

The force has set itself targets for cutting incidents of street drinking and youth disorder by 2% across the whole of 2012-13.

As of October 31, it was way ahead of both those targets.

david.leask@heraldandtimes.co.uk

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