Page last updated at 00:10 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

London's West End centres win 'safe' award

Street performer in Covent Garden
Areas were assessed for safety, hygiene and attractions

London's Leicester Square and Covent Garden have been named safe and attractive places to visit in a national scheme.

The areas in London's West End have been awarded Purple Flags by the Association of Town Centre Management.

The scheme assesses each area's crime rates, hygiene standards and range of visitor attractions.

Westminster City councillor Daniel Astaire described the award as an "incredible achievement".

The Purple Flag scheme aims to recognise high city standards in the same way that Blue Flags indicate good beaches and Green Flags recognise good parks.

The Home Office-backed scheme also hopes to encourage more city centre visitors between 1700 and 0600 GMT.

Extra police and floodlights were installed in the West End in December last year, along with a giant screen displaying travel information.

Last month the number of serious violent offences in the West End fell to seven, compared to 11 in December 2008.

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