KNIFE-carrying in the west of Scotland has reached historic new lows.

The number of people charged with carrying a bladed or pointed weapon in Strathclyde has dropped 72% in the last six years.

The latest figures show just 780 such offenders were caught between April 2012 and January 2013 in the area of the soon-to-be-abolished Strathclyde Police Force.

Police chiefs today said the figure – down from 2782 in the same 10 months of 2007-2008 – was a "final sign- off for Strathclyde".

Serious violent crime across Strathclyde has been falling steadily for the last six years too - on top of historic falls of these figures in Glasgow we detailed in our Crime on Your Street series late last year.

Wayne Mawson, the new assistant chief constable for local policing in the new national police force, linked the falls in knife-carrying arrests and charges firmly with increased stop-searches.

He said: "In the year to January we had 780 arrested, charged and sent to court for carrying knives.

"This is phenomenal and comes after stop-search has gone up massively.

"So we are stopping more people than we ever have done and they are just not carrying the knives any more.

"One directly impacts on the other and the end result of this: reductions in serious violence."

Across Strathclyde there were 3370 serious violent or group 1 crimes in April-Jan, half as many as the same period six years before.

The detection rate for one of the most common of those crimes, ser-ious assault, has gone from 48.6% to 65.3% in the six years.

The number of stop-searches carried out rose by half in 2012-13.

Between 2007 and 2008, there were 9285 stop-searches, but during the same period of this financial year there were 70,846.

Overall, Scottish crime is at a 37-year-low, partly because of these falling figures in Strathclyde.

Mr Mawson, formerly divisional commander in the East End of the city, is responsible for local policing across the West, including Dumfries and Galloway.

But tactics from the outgoing Strathclyde force are now set to be rolled out across Scotland, including increased stop searches.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Scotland is getting safer. Violent crime in Scotland is at its lowest level for 30 years and crimes involving offensive weapons, including knives, are at their lowest level in 18 years.

"Our strategy of tough enforcement – backed by 1000 extra police officers on our streets – and education has helped reduce knife crime in recent years.

"It is also important to recognise the significant efforts of our partners, like the police, who are helping to bring about this positive change.

"However, we also know that every incident involving a knife is one too many and therefore there will be no let-up in our efforts, particularly as we recognise the devastating impact knife crime can have on victims, their families and Scotland's communities.

"That's why we have announced that the maximum penalty for carrying a knife will increase from four to five years."

As revealed by the Evening Times earlier this year, Strathclyde Police last year carried out more than 30,000 on-the-spot searches in Glasgow city centre during the nine months between April and December.

The figures showed the number of the most worrying offences in the city centre have fallen almost 30% during the same period.

Officers carried out 31,307 stop-and-searches on suspected criminals in the centre of the city in the nine months from April to the end of December.

This was an increase of 16.8%, or 5279, from 26,028 between April and December 2011.