Scotland will get benefit of Glasgow's crime-fighting experience

tactics used by police to halve serious violent crime in Glasgow city centre in the last five years, and which have cut teenage knife-carrying by 75% across the force's area, are to be extended across Scotland.

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Campbell Corrigan says successful Strathclyde policies will be adopted by the new force
Campbell Corrigan says successful Strathclyde policies will be adopted by the new force

The Evening Times can reveal that nationwide "campaign" days mobilising HQ and backroom officers to tackle violence will begin before Christmas.

The switch to Glasgow tactics came after Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Steve House was appointed to the same post in the embryonic Police Service of Scotland, which comes into force next April.

Campbell Corrigan, the veteran detective who replaces Mr House to become Strathclyde's last chief, believes "best practice" from across Scotland will now be spread far and wide.

He said: "I am not for a minute saying we captured this perfect recipe for violence reduction.

"But I am saying some of the things we are doing are working, such as our policies around targeted stop and search against violent crime areas, violent criminals and carried out at the right times.

"Our strike rate – finding weapons – is fantastic because it is all scientifically based. Our analysts can tell us who to search and when and where.

"When you look at the number of robberies that would happen with a weapon being used, you are seeing staggering figures of 40% and 30%. It would be remiss of us not to try and address that culture across the whole of the country."

Such tactics were introduced by Mr House in Strathclyde in late 2008, along with schemes to get officers out from behind desks and into uniform and on the streets.

As the Evening Times' Crime On Your Street series has confirmed, public complaints about crime and actual recorded crime have since plummeted. Youth crime has fallen particularly quickly.

Police, of course, do not claim all the credit for this – nor are they complacent because violent crime in Glasgow remains higher than anywhere else in Scotland.

Mr Corrigan prefers to think in absolute numbers than in percentages.

His figures show that so far this financial year the number of victims of serious violent crime – so called "Group 1" offences such as murder, robbery and serious assault – are down 808 from the same period of 2011-12.

Since new tactics were introduced in 2008 there have been 5200 fewer victims.

Mr Corrigan continued: "Chief Constable Steve House has been the owner of this recipe since December 2008.

"I have seen the blueprints for how this will be done in every town across Scotland that is affected by violence.

"There are small towns with a worse violence profile than Glasgow – as a head of population – in Central Scotland, parts of Fife and some parts of Dumfries and Galloway.

"It is not true that violence is a very Glasgow-centric issue, never mind the west of Scotland.

"Alcohol-related violence, serious assaults and youth disorder feature a lot in other places and, in some cases, more than here."

Some politicians in northern Scotland are worried about a single force, saying Strathclyde will effectively take over the rest of the country. But Mr Corrigan believes they have a lot to gain.

He said: "One of the things about the national force that is really exciting is the extremities of north Scotland are going to have the benefit of cutting-edge serious organised crime investigators who would never have gone there before, or expertise around counter terrorism or child protection.

Mr Corrigan also stressed Glasgow and the west would also benefit from best practice from elsewhere, such as domestic abuse schemes from the Lothians or youth offenders' work from Fife.

Crucially, he said, plans are advanced for Strathclyde's use of computer analysis to be spread nationwide.

This is when backroom boffins look at the "recency frequency gravity" of offending in any area or individual or time to work out where police should mobilise their troops.

The technology – developed from the kind of software firms such as Amazon and Tesco use to identify their most important customers – is used in other Scots forces, but not as much as in Strathclyde. Its top analysts are already crunching numbers from other parts of Scotland to pave the way for major crackdowns as the single force approaches.

Mr Corrigan does not foresee regional commanders up and down the country objecting to such tactics on violence as they go through the nightmarishly complicated process of merging eight territorial forces – as well as the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency – into one.

He said: "The chief constables in place in every force and we are all working towards the same goal with a clarity of purpose of where we are going.

"One thing we have never had a divergence of view is alcohol and violence.

"Now you can get into how many divisions should we have and what colour should the police cars be. That's one thing.

"But if you said what would be the top priorities, I can't see George Graham, the chief constable of Northern, saying 'We don't have an issue with drink-fuelled violence when the pubs in Inverness spill and we don't have a domestic abuse profile afterwards'."

Mr Corrigan said "campaign days" – when desk officers pour on to the frontline – are among the "most progressed" of new joint actions and would begin before Christmas nationwide.

"We see we can mobilise some of the good things we do across the country.

"If we can do it, why wait for reform? We are now one. The April date is notional.

"It doesn't matter for victims that we are not technically a single force until April. We can do things in a far more co-ordinated way. We can mobilise resources now."

The single force has always been expected to see civilian staff lose their jobs – estimates have always been about 3000.

Mr Corrigan hinted the axe was more likely to fall up the management scale – at the end of the "corridor" where police chiefs sit – rather than on frontline workers, whether they are civilian analysts or uniformed officers.

He said: "The bit about money and economy? It will be up this end of the corridor we will have to worry about that.

"But the people who joined the police service to "keep people safe", the ones that didn't join to fouter about budgets, who joined to tackle crime, capture the bad guys - they will be able to do that far more effectively."

david.leask@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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