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The ‘creepy clown’ craze has hit the UK – and it’s spreading fast

The US has given us many great things: Hollywood blockbusters, Doritos, the Kardashians... and now a craze for pranksters dressed as clowns. Cheers, guys.

Yes, the “creepy clown craze”, which began last month in North Carolina with reports of clowns terrorizing locals, has made it across the Atlantic.

Police across England have been called to dozens of incidents so far, with clowns harassing people or proving to be a right nightmare-inducing nuisance. 

During one incident reported in County Durham a man dressed as a clown wielding what looked like a machete followed four children to school.

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In Eastbourne, a clown brandishing an unspecified weapon (a particularly menacing balloon animal perhaps?) jumped out on a cyclist, while Gloucestershire Police received six separate reports of clowns behaving suspiciously.

A boy in Sudbury was also chased by several men dressed as clowns, and Thames Valley Police were called to 14 such incidents within 24 hours.

Is it just a bit of fun? A ridiculous waste of police time? Mass hysteria? Or the kind of thing that could leave some poor child with a lifetime of clown-based psychological trauma?

And if you're planning to pull on a colourful wig, oversized trousers, and sinister red nose yourself, you might want to think twice. 

As reported by the BBC, Thames Valley Chief Superintendent 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."

With the craze also spreading to Canada and Australia - no to mention Halloween on the horizon - it doesn't look like the creepy clowns are going anywhere just yet.

IT author Stephen King has chimed in on it, and even the White House press secretary had to answer questions about Obama's stance on the matter.

Stay vigilant and be prepared to defend yourselves, people. A bucket full of confetti should do the trick.