GLASGOW is winning its war on violence.

The Evening Times has tracked every figure for every violent crime for every police beat in the city.

In this year's Crime on Your Street series of articles, DAVID LEASK reports on the trends which show Glasgow is getting less dangerous

THE trends could not be clearer: Glasgow is getting less dangerous and it is getting less dangerous quickly. We can reveal that over the last six years:

:: City-wide knife assaults are down by a third.

:: The number of reports of children under 16 carrying knives is down an astonishing 75% across Strathclyde.

:: So-called Group 1 serious violent crime – such as serious assaults and robberies – has HALVED in Glasgow city centre.

These figures come from analysis carried out for our annual Crime On Your Street series, the most detailed look at police statistics carried out by any newspaper in Scotland.

But they are echoed by surveys of Glasgow's citizens and visitors, who say they feel far safer now than for years.

Police and their partners are far from complacent.

Despite falling figures, Glasgow remains, easily, the most violent place in Scotland.

And the city suffered 20 homicides last year – many of them indoor knife incidents.

But – despite its ongoing and undoubted problems – Glasgow is nowhere near "the murder capital of Europe" label it was given some years ago, nor its 1930s "No Mean City" image.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, of the Scotland-wide Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), has paid a key role in coming up with strategies to fight violence.

He said: "We have not fixed it. But we have made it better and we have changed it."

Mr Carnochan's team – which has built a solid alliance of people pulling together against violent crime, from dentists to social workers – is particularly proud of young people's progress.

In 2011, a total of 131 under-16s were caught with a knife across Strathclyde – most by the police after they quadrupled stop-and-searches.

That was down 75% from the 519 children found in possession of a knife in 2006.

Knife-carrying figures are also tumbling, by 45%, for those aged 16-18 – arguably the group most vulnerable to violence.

In fact, our Crime On Your Street analysis shows overall knife-carrying reports in Glasgow were down 41%, compared with 40% for the whole of Strathclyde.

The result: a near historic drop in knife crime.

The number of Glasgow assaults where somebody used or threatened to use a knife or other bladed or pointed instrument fell from 1325 – almost six a day – in 2006-2007 to 782 in 2011-12.

Mr Carnochan likes to compare what the police do to public health. His first patient: young people.

He said: "If we stabilise those patients, they'll be less violent.

"We need to break in to the cycle somewhere. We can make it better and we have done that with fewer victims and less violence.

"You can't deliver the treatment until you have stabilised the patient. The police are the trauma surgeon. We can calm things down."

HE continued: "But we need to do other things that deliver the success and that is about education, diversion, jobs; not just the police."

The success of police, social and community workers in Glasgow is beginning to win international attention.

When English cities erupted into violence last year, Glasgow, with its very different gang culture, remained calm.

Today the new chief constable of Scotland, former Strathclyde boss Steve House, will open a conference of global leaders in the fight against violence.

Some of the tactics Mr House introduced as chief – including the massive rise in stop-and-searches and a crackdown on domestic abusers – were expected to increase knife and violent crime statistics.

If the police are looking for more knives or encouraging victims to come forward, the logic went, they should get more reports of crime and their statistics should go up.

The effect has been the opposite: even using very broadest definition of violence – which includes minor assaults – the figures are down.

There were nearly 18,500 such crimes in 2006-2007, when The Evening Times began our Crime on Your Streets series.

In 2011-12 there were just over 14,500.

Can violence go lower? Early signs are that this summer, which is not included in our stats, was quiet.

Senior crime analysts are hoping Glasgow could be close to a "tipping point", a truly historic change in the culture of violence.

But, with the most serious violent crimes now in the home, the police's task is not getting any easier.

Mr Carnochan said: "We can't put yellow high-viz jackets in people's front rooms. And we can't lift someone for having a knife in their cutlery drawer."


So why is crime going down? We asked JON BANNISTER of Glasgow University to look at the big picture behind the statistics.

CRIME has been falling in Glasgow, as in the rest of Scotland, since the turn of the century.

That said, the most recent figures for the city suggest a remarkable drop in all types of offending.

This is really fantastic news.

Looking at the figures, there is one really important point I want to make clear.

This dramatic decline has nothing to do with the way police record crime – which hasn't changed since The Evening Times began its Crime On Your Street series in 2006.

There has been a real change on our streets. Whether we look at violence or property-related crime, it's down.

So, what is behind these falling figures?

There are three key factors:

1. Lower deprivation.

The level of crime in any area is closely linked to its levels of deprivation or poverty.

Despite the recession, conditions in Glasgow have gradually got better over the last decade or so. These improvement will have delivered a "dividend" of lower crime. But I think offending has fallen further than we might have expected from socio-economic progress alone.

2. Smarter police tactics.

There have been significant changes in the way the police work in recent years.

Strathclyde, for example, has both come up with and put resources behind a wide range of schemes to both make people feel safer and prevent crime.

These include ground-breaking initiatives to confront youth disorder and youth gangs such as the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, or CIRV.

There is hard evidence showing this project has cut both violence and other gang-related behaviours.

3. Youth work.

Glasgow now has a lots of youth diversionary projects.

These are offering youngsters a whole new range of social and sporting opportunities – drawing them away from 'hanging around' in groups that pose a threat to others and to their own well-being.

These three factors have combined to bring down both crime – and public reporting of anti-social behaviour.

However, looking ahead, I would like to strike two notes of caution.

First – and before we get carried away with these very positive crime trends – it has to be said that crime rates in Glasgow are still higher than the Scottish average.

Second, crime hasn't gone down all on its own. It has done so as a result of significant resources being deployed through well-thought-through interventions.

So, will these survive the recession and public spending cuts?