Dramatic fall in violent crime in Glasgow

GLASGOW summers have rarely been more quiet and peaceful.

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  • Strathclyde's beat policing will be rolled out at a national level
    Strathclyde's beat policing will be rolled out at a national level
  • Strathclyde's beat policing will be rolled out at a national level

New figures from Strathclyde Police today reveal dramatic drops in the number of assaults, robberies and attempted murders from April to October.

The statistics – for the first half of the financial year – show serious violent crime falling even faster than over the last five historic years of decline.

The drops in some of the most serious offences, so-called Group 1 crimes such as murder, attempted murder and serious assault, are so steep over the six months they will almost certainly have a major impact on Scotland's national figures.

The headline figures for the Strathclyde area comparing April-October 2011 with the same month of 2012 are:

l Overall Group 1 crimes down 25% from 3197 to 2393;

l Attempted murders down 33.6% from 128 to 85;

l Serious assault down 28.6% from 1602 to 1144;

l Robbery and assault with intent to rob down 31% from 750 to 519.

Police chiefs are very happy with the numbers but warn against assuming the west of Scotland's problem with violence, especially booze-fuelled violence, is fixed.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, co-director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), said: "These figures are very encouraging and a credit to the hard work that is being put in not just by Strathclyde but by forces around the country.

"Violent crime is at a 30-year low in Scotland, there are 44% fewer weapons on the streets since 2006/7 and recorded crimes and offences committed by young people are down 37% since 2007/08.

"But while this is undoubtedly good news, it is also a dangerous time, and the danger is that we think this is a case of problem solved. It isn't.

"We know from working with other partners that once figures start improving, the pace tends to slacken, because we think headway has been made.

"Now more than ever, we need to keep up momentum.

"Steve House, as Chief Constable of the new Police Force of Scotland, has made it abundantly clear that violence is and will continue to be a key issue as we move forward. Likewise, the VRU cannot and will not relent when it comes to tackling violence."

As The Evening Times revealed earlier this winter, Strathclyde tactics on tackling violent crime, pioneered when Mr House was chief constable of the regional force, are to be rolled out across Scotland under the new national service.

Mr Carnochan and his colleagues have previously spoken of Scotland reaching a tipping point, when violent crime starts to fall dramatically.

Experts contacted by The Evening Times stressed it was too soon to declare that that point had been reached – the six-month figures just don't capture enough data to prove it.

The city still has a higher rate of violent crime than anywhere else in Scotland, so police sources are quick to say they are not being complacent.

There are a whole range of reasons why Glasgow in particular and Strathclyde in general have been getting safer.

These include new police tactics and increasing police numbers; a bigger focus on old-fashioned youth work and declines in deprivation over the last decade.

Jon Bannister of Glasgow University, meanwhile, believes the recession could also be having an effect, especially in the city centre.

Fewer people are going out now than before the credit crunch of 2008 and those who do are drinking less.

Scottish alcohol consumption is falling, according to market research, although it remains far higher than, for example, in England.

Mr Bannister said: "It is possible that the continued decline in crime in the city centre is a consequence, at least in part, of the recession beginning to bite.

"Going into the city for a night out, for a drink, is expensive. Having less disposable income may lead people to change their consumption habits.

"They may drink less or change the places where they drink it.

"We need to monitor the situation carefully, to see whether the location and type of crime and disorder changes through time or whether this welcome decline in crime can be sustained across the city as a whole."

Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton said: "Reducing violent crime is one of Strathclyde Police's top priorities.

"Each and every officer is dedicated to pro-actively driving down violence. We have introduced the Alcohol Task Force, Domestic Abuse Task Force and Gangs Task Force to help make that happen.

"We value the public's input and make time to listen to people's concerns.

"Our officers regularly attend community meetings. Acting on the information we receive from communities across Strathclyde enables us to target the right people at the right time.

"Crime figures are important, but what drives us is our determination to keep people safe. The greater the number of people we can stop becoming victims the better.

"This, coupled with the work carried out by our analysts, allows us to maximise our ability to keep people safe."

david.leask@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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