Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has issued a warning to people taking part in the ‘killer clown’ craze after a youngster was cautioned for carrying a knife.
There has been a rise in the number of incidents since September 30, with reports to police of people dressed as clowns to scare people.
Police say a small number of calls relating to people causing harassment, alarm or distress, have been dealt with appropriately.
Ms Baird said: “I am sure this started as Halloween fun, but when people are hiding in bushes, jumping out on members of the public or running around in open spaces it can be scary.
“A clown is effectively wearing a mask. Children in particular are complaining of being afraid. Parents are worrying that people with bad intentions can take advantage of the trend.
“My advice is just don’t dress as a clown. The fun has been spoilt now. You might well be misunderstood and end up in trouble and if you are out to scare you are likely to be committing an offence.
“I also understand that someone has published a list of locations where clowns plan to visit. I would urge anyone planning to do this not to – it looks deliberately intimidatory and it’s not acceptable.”
She added: “This is not an outbreak of major crime but I assure residents that Northumbria Police are taking it seriously. If anyone was planning to dress as a clown - don’t. If anyone does so and causes alarm and distress it is a criminal offence under the public order act. Halloween is not a justification for this behaviour.”