Police arrest nine people after TikTok crime threat on London's Oxford Street

  • Tap above to watch video report by Simon Harris

Nine people were arrested following a TikTok rumour of planned group crime and disorder on London’s Oxford Street.

The Metropolitan Police also handed out 34 dispersal orders - which gives police extra powers to break up groups, where they believe their behaviour is causing a nuisance, harassment or distress.

Two young men were led away from near to a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in handcuffs, close to a shop rumoured to be the target of the disturbance.

The force said: “Four people were arrested on suspicion of breaching the dispersal order, one person was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal, one person arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and one person was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.

“Earlier in the afternoon, officers arrested two people in Essex for conspiracy to commit robbery following online social media posts.”

There was an increased police presence in Oxford Circus after TikTok and snapchat videos and posts circulated, suggesting a group meet at a store on the busy shopping street.

Nearby shops including an optician and pharmacy closed their shutters briefly shortly after 3pm on Wednesday, as crowds gathered on the busy street.

The men, one wearing a green hoodie and the other a grey tracksuit, were apprehended by police before being handcuffed.

Traffic on the packed street was temporarily brought to a halt, until four mounted police alongside security personnel were able to disperse onlookers.

There was a heavy police and security presence on the popular shopping street in the build-up to the disturbance, after rumours of a planned disorder were circulated on social media.

JD Sports was the apparent target of Wednesday's raid, but other businesses were also at risk. Credit: PA

Oxford Street is Europe’s busiest shopping street, with about half a million daily visitors.

Earlier on Wednesday Mayor Sadiq Khan told said: “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.”

Below: Police TikTok video showing increased patrols on Oxford Street

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 said: “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.”

Police at JD Sports car on Oxford Street Credit: ITV News

In a letter seen by ITV News London shop owners were advised to:

  • Ensure all staff are aware of intended disorder;

  • Have in-house security visible from the street;

  • Move higher-value merchandise to the rear of the store;

  • Know lockdown procedures and be in a position to implement them quickly.

The letter added: "We believe it is likely that large numbers of people will gather to enter stores and steal retail goods, relying on speed and group size to evade security measures.

"The event is being widely advertised across social media channels, including Snapchat and TikTok, in an effort to maximise the scale of the disruption.

"This follows a similar incident last August which resulted in widespread disorder."

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