ONE of Govanhill's most senior police officers has said housebreaking is "infectious" in the area.

But Inspector Alex Hutton insisted local police are tackling the issue with recent "significant" arrests.

Giving an overview of crime rates in the South Side area, Mr Hutton said crime levels are remaining relatively static.

However, housebreaking and acquisitive crime is the "biggest issue" in the area.

He said: "Serious and common assaults were at their peak in December, which is normal at Christmas and New Year but they came back down to the sorts of levels we would expect in January.

"The biggest issue we have is housebreaking and acquisitive crime.

"It is a big, big problem and challenge for us.

"There is a one in a million chance we have of catching someone in the act given we have around 1000 common closes in the area."

Speaking at the Govanhill Regeneration Group meeting, Mr Hutton went on to detail how break-ins are carried out in Govanhill.

He said: [Perpetrators] are not coming in through windows, they are coming in through the common close; it is a primitive method and very successful.

"They will gain access to a close, knock the door to see if anyone is home and then break through the door.

"There is no particular pattern or time of day, it is a very speculative crime."

Mr Hutton said two men were caught in the act in Govanhill last Wednesday night, January 23.

He added: "This is a significant arrest and we have bail conditions in place to monitor their movements."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who also attended the meeting of local community groups and officials, asked if housebreakings are higher in Govanhill than elsewhere in the city.

She said: "Does Govanhill buck the trend? Are instances of housebreaking higher in this area?"

Mr Hutton said: "I don't have comparison figures to hand but Govanhill has always been high for acquisitive crime."

He added that policing resources are higher in Govanhill than anywhere else in the city.

The inspector said: "I do get the importance of reducing the fear of crime.

"We have officers carrying out covert work as well as officers up and down common closes."

He added: "Previously, housebreakings dropped because one particular housebreaker was taken out of the picture.

"He was one of a small group of perpetrators and we had a few near misses in that we brought them in for questioning but didn't have enough to charge them and so there was a bit of a conveyor belt there.

"But we were eventually successful in a conviction, which had a big impact.

"In particular, there are juvenile offenders who are really hard to try to manage and control.

"It is very hard to try and put sanctions on them.

"We tend to find these crimes are all interlinked, it is an infectious crime in the area."

From April 1 to October 31, numbers from Police Scotland show:

l Serious assaults are down by 13 per cent

lCommon assaults are down by 21 per cent and

lDomestic housebreaking is down by 17 per cent