Pranksters dressed as “creepy clowns” have deliberately scarred many people across Britain, forcing police to warn miscreants that they could be arrested. The pranksters are said to be following a trend that started in the US. A 30-year-old man was arrested in Norwich after someone dressed as a clown jumped out from behind a tree and “terrified” a woman in a public park. Thames Valley Police yesterday said it had been called to 14 incidents in 24 hours.
In the Norwich case, the woman was walking alone in Eaton Park last night when the man leapt out, screamed at her and ran after her.
Superintendent Lynne Cross, of Norfolk Police, said such incidents “may seem harmless, but it is quite frightening to those who experience it”. Elsewhere, a 13-year-old boy is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of common assault in West Bromwich on Saturday. It is alleged that the boy, wearing a clown mask, approached a 14-year-old on New Swan Lane and grabbed his arm.
Meanwhile, in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, a man dressed as a clown and carrying a baseball bat was reported to have chased a 10-year-old child through a park. Gloucestershire Police said it had received six reports of “clowns” behaving suspiciously or carrying knives. In one instance a child was followed.
People who have been approached by the clowns have taken to social media to warn others. Thames Valley Police said clowns were “tying up resources which could impact on calls to other incidents”.
Chief Superintend Andy Boyd said: “While we do not want to be accused of stopping people enjoying themselves, we would also ask those same people to think of the impact of their behaviour on others and themselves. “Their actions can cause fear and anxiety to other people. This could be perceived to be intimidating and threatening which could lead to public order offences, arrest and a criminal record.”
The clown craze began in the US in late summer and has since spread to Canada and Australia. Schools in Texas and Alabama were shut down, while the White House press secretary had to field questions about the president’s stance on the phenomenon. Inspector Simon Starns, of Sussex Police, warned: “We will respond if someone feels threatened and the culprit could end up being arrested and then they won’t find it so funny.”