Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption squad has arrested two police officers on suspicion of corrupt links to central London businessmen.

The officers, a sergeant and constable based in the Westminster Licensing Unit, were arrested along with two businessmen on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office after a “long-running operation”.

The unit, which is the biggest and busiest of its kind in the UK and is run jointly by the police and the local council, is responsible for granting alcohol and entertainment licences in the busy central London districts.

A Metropolitan Police statement said the corruption investigation centred on “inappropriate relationships between the police officers and people running local businesses”

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Whorwood of the DPS Anti-Corruption Command, said: “These arrests are part of a long-running intelligence operation. It was started in response to allegations of corruption by Westminster Licensing officers and inappropriate relationships between the police officers and certain people running local businesses.”

A Westminster City Council spokeswoman said: “This is a matter for the police but we are co-operating fully with their investigation. No Westminster City Council staff have been involved and the operation of the licensing service is not affected.”