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Killer clowns: PSNI issues warning over craze sweeping the UK

Published 08/10/2016

File photo taken on October 21, 2013 shows, Halloween masks on a wall at Spirit Halloween costume store in Easton, Maryland. AFP/Getty Images
File photo taken on October 21, 2013 shows, Halloween masks on a wall at Spirit Halloween costume store in Easton, Maryland. AFP/Getty Images

The PSNI has issued a warning to anyone who is involved in the so-called 'killer clown' craze which is sweeping the UK.

There have been reported sightings of people dressed up as clowns in Newtownards.

And the PSNI Ards posted on Facebook: "I can’t answer all the PMs about the Clowns tonight so quick post instead. Having two teenage kids I am well aware of the rumours going about and picture circulating of Town Hall in Ards.

"It’s impossible to tell when the photo was taken and our CCTV operator has the cameras spinning off the post looking and has seen nothing. We have plenty of crews on duty tonight so we do get anyone dressed up we will be stopping them."

Meanwhile, the PSNI has declared the Lower Shankill area of west Belfast to be clown free at the end of a day marked by an international clown epidemic.

People dressed as clowns were involved in a spate of incidents across the UK prompting police forces to issue warnings about the so-called 'clown craze' trend.

Further warnings have been issued about "killer clowns" in a craze that is sweeping Britain.

In the latest spate of incidents, Gloucestershire Police said they had received six reports of people dressed as clowns acting suspiciously, following members of the public or wielding knives in the Gloucester area.

Officers said the incidents were not just causing alarm in the community but also tying up police resources.

A spokesman said: "The reports have been made in the Gloucester area and have mostly involved clowns carrying knives. In one case a child was followed.

"Clearly this has scared people and caused real distress. We have attended these incidents as grade one emergencies and that limits our ability to attend to other incidents.

"We haven't traced anyone involved as yet as they have disappeared by the time we arrive, but anyone we do find will be dealt with appropriately.

"Whether those involved are doing it for a joke or not, this is no laughing matter.

"These are stupid acts that are really frightening people and wasting our time. Please don't be tempted to do it. Think of the consequences."

The craze appears to have been inspired by clown-related pranks in the US and has seen a string of copycat incidents across the country.

A masked man carrying a knife left a group of children aged 11 and 12 "upset and distressed" when he jumped out as they were on their way to Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, at 8.40am on Friday.

In Suffolk, a boy "younger than a teenager" was chased by "several people dressed as clowns" in Beatty Road, Sudbury, at 8pm on Thursday, Suffolk Police said.

Tom Jackson, 18, a first year student at Leeds Beckett University, said he was "very scared" when he saw a man dressed as a clown near an underpass in Leeds at 4.30am on Friday.

A man dressed as a clown "wearing a hockey mask and a blood-stained poncho" was captured on camera in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, on Thursday evening.

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