Police have warned pranksters who are terrorising members of the public by dressing up as creepy clowns that they will feel the full force of the law.
Inspector Nick Butler, district commander for Mansfield, issued the warning as a new craze sweeps the country with jokers jumping out and scaring children and parents while dressed as the colourful circus workers.
Sightings and incidents have been reported to police up and down the country, and although none have been registered in our region, Insp Butler is advising people not to participate.
Insp Butler said: “It’s causing real anxiety, particularly among young people.
“If these people think it’s a practical joke it’s not funny and it’s probably going to be a criminal offence.
“Someone is going to get hurt at some point because somebody will react badly to it sooner or later.”
Contrary to popular belief, Insp Butler said that the people can be arrested under a public order offence for causing harassment, alarm or distress.
“There’s only one reason why they would be dressing up like this, they are out to cause distress,” he said.
The trend is believed to have started in America and stems from the Stephen King horror novel, ‘It’, in which a clown stalks and kills children in a quiet town.
The fear of clowns, also known as coulrophobia, is said to be one of the leading phobias in the UK and psychologists say the exaggerated features could be the reason.