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Glasgow is still Scotland's most violent place despite drop in offences

Scotland's crime capital is in danger of losing its title.

For generations, Glasgow has had to live with an often deserved reputation for trouble with "booze and blades".

New figures released by Police Scotland reveal that the city remains by far the country's most violent, despite a year-on-year fall of nearly 13%.

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However, Glasgow in 2013-14 fell from the top spot in league tables for other categories of crimes per capita, with Fife emerging as the area with the most sex crimes and Edinburgh with the most housebreakings.

The statistics, which use ­international standards to present offences per 10,000 people, show substantial regional variations in the crime map despite nationwide trends towards less reported non-sexual violence, but more reports of rape.

Glasgow, for example, had 1538 reports of serious violent crime, so-called Group 1 offences, that include serious assaults and robberies. That was nearly 26 for every 10,000 people, down about 13 per cent. Edinburgh came second, with 17 per 10,000, but the gap between Scotland's two cities was maintained as the category of crime fell at about the same rate in both.

Experts and police officers have long linked high levels of violence with both deprivation and the social problems it causes, including drug and alcohol misuse. But big cities are also where drunken street fights are more likely to take place, in bar-lined streets that attract trouble from far beyond municipal borders.

Neighbourhoods such as Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow or Rose Street in Edinburgh see the kind of fights that are far more likely to be reported to the police than drunken punches thrown in house parties with no CCTV.

But the police's figures show crimes other than violence fail to follow this pattern. Glasgow had almost as many sex crimes (Group 2 offences), as serious violent ones in 2014, about 24 for every 10,000 people, up 4.4 per cent in the year.

But Fife saw its sex offences climb even faster, from 465 in 2012-13 to 831 in 2013-14. That fired its overall figure per 10,000 to 26.3 per cent, shunting Glasgow off its top spot. Orkney, with 23 per 10,000, was almost as high. No obvious demographic pattern unites the three areas.

Glasgow also ceded its housebreaking top spot, this time to Edinburgh, which has seen numbers soar over the last year. There were 2057 break-ins or attempted break-ins in the capital in 2013-14, up 23 per cent on the same period a year before. Glasgow had nearly as many, 2043, but this was down 14 per cent. So ­Edinburgh replaced Glasgow as the housebreaking capital of ­Scotland in both absolute and relative terms. The break-in rate in the capital now stands at 84 per 10,000, with neighbouring Midlothian in second place at 60 per 10,000 and Glasgow trailing in third place at 58.

Police have previously stressed the changing patterns of housebreaking in recent decades, with fewer opportunistic raids by drug addicts in poorer areas but continued targeted attacks on homes with goods worth stealing, especially the keys to the kind of expensive cars found in the richer Lothians.

Rose Fitzpatrick, Deputy Chief Constable for Local Policing, stressed that such figures broken down by local authority were not official crime statistics, and these would be published by the Scottish Government later this year.

They are designed to help the police set priorities, such as targeting sex offenders in Fife, housebreakers in Edinburgh or violence in Glasgow.

She said: "In Police Scotland's first year, overall crime has fallen and crimes of violence have decreased by 10 per cent.

"The creation of a single ­policing service has been the most significant change anywhere in the public sector in Scotland."

She added: "It has enabled us to keep local policing at the heart of what we do while removing old boundaries to ensure that no matter where or when it is required, local communities get the policing resource they need."

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