GLASGOW is continuing to wean itself off the blades culture for which it had become infamous.

KNIFE assaults in Glasgow dropped more than a third last year. Figures show that the city - still widely famed for its blades and booze image - now suffers an average of two and a half such attacks a day.

That number, though still high, is down from nearly six a day in the year before Sir Stephen House was appointed chief constable of Strathclyde Police in 2007.

Figures obtained under the Evening Times' long-standing Crime On Your Street investigation showed there were 903 knife assaults in the city in 2012-13.

That has fallen 37% from a figure of 1439 a year before and 57% from 2138 in 2006-2007.

City police chiefs are delighted.Andy Bates, pictured right, the police commander for the new Greater Glasgow division, said: "For many years this city has had a reputation for a high number of knife crimes.

"But there has been a significant reduction in such assaults.

"There are still too far many people being stabbed or attacked, but that number has decreased dramatically."

Mr Bates and his colleagues firmly link the falling figures for knife assaults with the sixfold increase in stop and searches.

Their theory: that those who might be tempted to carry a knife are not doing so because the chances of getting caught are too high.

In November 2007, when Sir Stephen took over as Strathclyde Police Chief Constable, there were 4356 stop-searches carried out in Glasgow. Exactly five years later, there were 26,669.

This change in police tactics initially saw more people found with bladed or pointed weapons. But knife-carrying offences - despite the high rise in stop and searches - have fallen from 1304 in 2006-2007 to 578 in 2012-13.

Stop-search tactics have now been extended across Scotland with Sir Stephen, now running the new national police force, accused of "Strathclydisation".

Some human rights advocates have expressed concerns about the policy - which sees thousands of innocent people inconvenienced.

Mr Bates, however, is convinced stop-searches, along with saturation policing by yellow-jacketed officers in trouble spots, is driving down knife and other violent crime.

"I think stop-search has played a big, big part in reducing violent crime. It is one of our key tactics. The number of stop-searches we have carried out has increased exponentially year on year.

"Last year in Greater Glasgow - the city along with East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire - we carried out a quarter of a million.

"We did discover a lot of knives. But the number of "positive" stop searches when we find a knife has gone down. Basically, the chances of being caught are significantly higher than they were three or four years ago."

BUT Mr Bates does not think declining violent crime is just down to police tactics. He praises partner agencies - not least schools - and "sociological reasons".

Serious violent crime - the so-called "group one" offences - such as murder, attempted murder, serious assaults, extortion and robbery - has more than halved in the last seven years.

Cynics have suggested officers fiddle these statistics, counting more serious crimes as less serious crimes.

However, less serious common assaults, are down too.

There were 8907 such offences in 2012-13, down from 11143 in 2011-12 and from nearly 13,000 in 2008-2009.

Glasgow remains more violent than other Scottish cities. The former Strathclyde force, in its last year, had 18 crimes of serious violence for every 10,000 people, against 15 in Lothian and Borders and a national average of 14.

Can figures for Glasgow get even closer to those of the rest of the country? That, says Mr Bates, is his aspiration.

He said: "Our ambition is still to get to the situation where Glasgow does not stand out in terms of volume of crime."

How much further can violent crime reduction go?

"Logically there has to be a plateau we reach at some point when the reductions slow or stop altogether. But we are not there yet. There is a lot more work we can do. We will keep driving tactics and if they are working we will stick with them."

Scotland's leaders are beginning to wonder out loud what effect the huge drop in violent crime will have on Glasgow.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes the economy will benefit as the city sheds its reputation - and visitors and residents feel more confident.

"I don't hold the view that Glasgow was a dangerous place until recently and the old 'No Mean City' image is definitely long gone," she said.

"We have still got a long way to go - there is no room for complacency and one violent crime is one too many.

"But people are more likely to be relaxed about coming into the city centre if they know violent crime is falling."