London

Soho crackdown 'cuts West End crime cut by 46%'

A major police operation in Soho almost halved crime across London's West End, figures show.

More than 200 Metropolitan Police officers descended on Westminster last weekend, searching almost 300 people for drugs, weapons and stolen property.

Police said the total number of offences for Friday and Saturday was 47 - down 46% from the usual average of 87 offences per weekend.

It was part of a project to improve safety ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

A range of tactics were used over the weekend including the use of a large outdoor search and processing facility in the gardens of St Anne's church, a mobile custody unit and mobile CCTV control vehicles.

More than 50 people were arrested for offences including drugs, public order, handling stolen goods and assault.

Police gave 48 official warnings for possession of cannabis and 15 anti-social dispersal orders were handed out.

Pc Roy Smith said: "This operation demonstrates our commitment to the residents, businesses and visitors to Soho to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

"The support we have received from the local community has been overwhelming."

Under the wider SaferSoho Project, police are working with Westminster council on a series of initiatives to cut crime in the area.

These include a new hi-tech radio system linking businesses, the police and the local CCTV control centre to share information and intelligence about criminal activity.

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