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High streets across the UK saw shopper numbers slump sharply early this week due to rail strikes and cold winter weather (PA) (PA Wire)

A police dispersal order has been imposed over fears shops on Oxford Street may be targetted by young looters after messages were posted on TikTok.

The Metropolitan Police has said there will be a heightened police in the central London area following speculation about an event advertised to be taking place on Wednesday afternoon.

A dispersal order has been put in place from 11am on Tuesday to 10am on Thursday, giving police officers the power to exclude people from the area for 48 hours.

Anyone who does not comply can be arrested.

The social media appeal for crowds to descend on Oxford Street comes after a previous incident in which a mob rampaged through a candy shop in the area, looting stock and then posting footage. The event advertised for Wednedsay afternoon similarly calls for a large group to storm the street.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged people not to go to Oxford Street to take part in “nonsense” spread on social media.

Mr Khan told the PA news agency: “I am worried about this nonsense we have seen on TikTok encouraging people to go to Oxford Street.

“The police understand why some people may be tempted to go to that part of London because of the TikTok.

“I’d encourage anybody who’s seen it not to go to Oxford Street. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into an area that could be high crime area.

“It won’t be (a high crime area) because the police work incredibly hard with the local community with the retailers in that part of London, and with those citizens who want to have a good day out on Oxford Street tomorrow rather than being worried about that sort of nonsense.”

The Met Police said on Twitter: “We are aware of online speculation about opportunities to commit crime around Oxford Street.

“There will be a significant number of our officers in the area over the next 24 hours. Anyone committing a crime can expect to be dealt with robustly.”

A police spokesperson told PA: “We are working very closely with our partners, including the New West End company, to ensure that any criminal behaviour is dealt with quickly.

“If you see or hear anything suspicious in relation to this activity is asked to us on 999 in an emergency or 101 if it is a non-emergency.”

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