Professional clowns in the UK on Tuesday hit out at pranksters dressing up in their outfits to scare children and bystanders, saying the “idiots” were hijacking a costume and “undoing” a lot of good. Police forces across Britain were called to dozens of incidents over the weekend as a so-called “killer crown” trend, which originated in recent weeks in the US, swept the UK, fuelled by social media. “This is nothing to do with clowning, it’s to do with people hijacking a costume and for some sinister reason trying to scare people,” said Rob Bowker, spokesperson for the UK-based Clowns International.
“These idiots are undoubtedly affecting people’s awareness of clowns and undoing a lot of good. My fear is that hospitals will say, ‘Oh, we can’t have clowns in because the children are getting scared,’ or stuff like that. And then all that work that’s been done over the years will be undone,” he said. World Clown Association executive Andrew Davis also said the trend was “disappointing”.
“A genuine clown would not run up to somebody and make them jump and frighten them. That is an idiot dressed up in a mask trying to scare people. It makes me feel disappointed that the easiest way they can get a cheap thrill is to scare somebody,” Davis said. More clown sightings were reported across England in areas including Norwich, Carlisle, Lancashire and Bristol today.
Professor Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, explained that clowns tend to be scary because of their exaggerated looks and evil representation in films. “The vast majority of people are not scared of clowns day-to-day, but a clown’s face has become part of a scare culture. There is a stereotype of the nasty, evil, eerie clown. If you look at clowns facially what you tend to find is part of their face or feet are exaggerated, they have huge noses, scary mouths and wildfire hair,” he said.
Thames Valley police, which received 14 reports of clown incidents in 24 hours, warned that the craze was wasting police resources and could lead to arrest for public order offences. Incidents reported to police in the UK have included four children from Durham aged 11 or 12 being followed to school on Friday by a man in a clown outfit who was armed with a knife. In Norwich, a 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of public order offences after allegedly jumping out at a woman in a park on Sunday, screaming and then chasing her.