Why do people dress up as clowns?
The so-called “killer clown craze” first appeared in the UK in 2013 when clowns started to appear, trying to surprise people as part of a prank on social media.
This spread to other parts of the country and the world. In 2014 French police arrested 14 teenagers who dressed as clowns and carrying weapons.
In 2016, the craze spread once again through pranks on social media. Starting in the USA, it spread to Canada before it was copied by people in the UK.
We do not believe there is any physical risk to members of the public but we take these incidents seriously because they can cause considerable upset to families and children. We have a zero tolerance to this sort of behaviour.
Is it a criminal offence to dress up as a clown?
No. However, it is a criminal offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour to intentionally cause a person harassment, alarm or distress. It is an offence punishable by up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine. This includes dressing up as a “killer clown.”
What should I do if I see someone dressed up as a killer clown?
If you see someone dressed as a “killer clown” and they are harassing someone, or causing them alarm or distress, please contact us by using our Live Chat facility, which can be accessed by clicking the button on the right of the screen. You can see our chat opening hours here. If Live Chat is unavailable call us on 101.
If you believe there is an immediate threat to life, please call us on 999.
Advice for parents and children
We’d encourage children scared by this craze to speak to a parent, teacher or trusted adult about any concerns they have.
We’d also advise you to block and report any messages or social media sites where people are posing as clowns and sending abusive or threatening messages.