How do you reduce crime? Increase the number of cops on the street...

GLASGOW is winning its war on violence.

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Chief Supt Andy Bates says the improvements in Glasgow have been "phenomenal" over the past year Picture: Martin Shields
Chief Supt Andy Bates says the improvements in Glasgow have been "phenomenal" over the past year Picture: Martin Shields

Serious violent crime has fallen dramatically across the city during the first year of Scotland's single police force.

And today the Evening Times can reveal city cops have solved almost two thirds of the violent crimes, which took place in the past year.

The culprits behind nearly 65% of the most worrying incidents includ-ing murders, attempted murders, and serious assaults, have been caught.

Our investigation reveals that more than 5800 people have been arrested or reported for violent crimes and offences.

The staggering figure is unheard of for a division the size of Greater Glasgow, which covers more than 215 square miles and almost 770,000 people.

Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, local police commander for Greater Glasgow, said: "We identify criminals as soon as we can.

"And when we do identify them, we get them off the streets as quickly as we can.

"We are regularly catching them and putting them away for a long time. That has a huge impact.

"There are a lot of people out there feeling a lot safer because criminals are being locked up. Our sole purpose is to keep people safe.

"We still do have crime, but the improvements in Glasgow have been phenomenal."

On April 1 2013, Police Scotland replaced the former structure and became the second largest force in the UK, after the Metropolitan Police in London.

Gone are the eight force areas - including Strathclyde - that had existed since 1975, with 17,000-strong single force for the whole of the country introduced in their place.

Since then serious violent crime has fallen by some 10% in Glasgow, as compared with the same period last year.

Mr Bates, believes targeted high-visibility police tactics are driving down the number of mur-ders, attempted murders, and serious assaults.

HE said: "I have just under 2900 police officers and staff working in Greater Glasgow.

"How do you reduce crime? Increase the number of cops on the street.

"It's about being highly visible, highly accessible and engaging with the public on the street. Police are on the ground, doing the jobs, catching the bad guys quickly and keeping people safe."

A breakdown reveals there were 796 serious violent crimes, including 15 murders and 71 attempted murders in the city in 2013/14.

But the previous year, more than 861 serious violent crimes were committed within city boundaries.

Our analysis shows violent crimes have dropped to levels unseen since the early 1970s.

Detection rates for violent crime are currently around 65%.

There were still 9240 violent offences committed within the city boundaries in 2013/14, less than 7% fewer than the year before.

But the number of serious assaults was down by more than 11% in Police Scotland's first year.

And recorded minor assaults - which do not involve a weapon - also plummeted by almost 10%, from 9125 in 2012/13, to 8444 last year.

Tough action led to officers solving 94% of the 71 attempted murders that were recorded in the last year and thugs behind 70% of serious assaults have been collared.

"There were 700 fewer victims of common assault this year," explains Mr Bates.

"Our approach to stop and searches and high-visibility policing led to an increase in public reassurance and a decrease in serious violent crime."

The city-wide figures cover a wide contrast of communities, from densely populated areas, such as Drumchapel and Easterhouse, to the village of Eaglesham.

MR Bates' division is also home to a number of football stadiums, including Hampden, Celtic Park, Ibrox and Firhill.

He said: "Greater Glasgow is the best division in the country and the area is helping to produce some great cops.

"Officers get a grounding here that is so wide and varied.

"But we all have the same real drive and commitment to reduce levels of crime.

"Because of the size of Greater Glasgow, we have dedicated teams of officers who deal with serious crime.

"We have to focus our assets on problems and we will continue to do so."

Senior officers believe the first year of Police Scotland has been a "great success" -and the city-wide figures prove that.

But Mr Bates has vowed not to be complacent.

"For me, one of the biggest successes of the last year, has to be that not one person noticed a difference [since the new force came in]", he said.

"Everything went smoothly and carried on from April 1.

"The public is our number one critic and they are satisfied with what we have done over the last year.

"Now, through strong links with the community, we will continue to keep people safe and drive down crime."

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

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