The West End Impact Zone team will consist of 100 officers, to provide a minimum of 18 officers during the day and a minimum of 23 at night.
Westminster police said the new team will help address crime by providing a highly visible police presence, carrying out regular patrols and encouraging the safe departure of customers from the area’s bars and clubs after closing times.
Officers will also staff a mobile police station situated within Leicester Square.
New York inspiration
The initiative has been inspired by a model from New York Police Department used in Times Square, which has seen a 53% reduction in crime across the city since 2001. Westminster police said both areas have similar challenges with many tourists and licensed premises as well as a similar set of neighbourhood crime types.
According to the police force, the West End accounts for almost half of the borough’s total recorded crime while Leicester Square has the highest concentration of licensed premises in Europe and in excess of 225,000 visitors every Saturday night.
The zone consists of Leicester Square, Coventry Street, Piccadilly Circus and the immediate surrounding area – the part of the West End which the force claims has the most violent and robbery offences connected with the night time economy.
Westminster Commander Alison Newcomb said: "I am delighted to be launching the new dedicated Impact Zone policing team, that will be working with the local businesses and community to deter, prevent and reduce crime and anti social behaviour in the area.
"The creation of the Impact Zone policing team will provide visible policing that responds directly to the concerns of the community through engagement; it will reduce crime and the fear of crime and raise community confidence.”