THE management team at Gateshead MetroCentre has been recognised as the Northumbria Community Partner of the Year.

A spokesman for the shopping centre said in the the 17 years since MetroCentre opened the malls had always been recognised as one of the safest places in Britain to shop.

The partnership, which involves the MetroCentre's 300 retailers and leisure operators, Northumbria Police, Gateshead West Area Command, the centre's management team and St James' Security, which is the centre's security contractors, has achieved a significant reduction in all levels of crime and disorder at the centre.

The award recognises the achievements of the combined team which is working closely together on a number of innovative projects.

MetroCentre general manager Ron Woodman received the award at a ceremony at Newcastle United Football Club's St James' Park.

He said: "The award is an acknowledgement to a tremendous amount of initiative, hard work and dedication by police officers, our own security teams and shop and leisure centre staff working in partnership.

"MetroCentre is now leading the field in pioneering security initiatives in shopping centres."