Three schools in South Tyneside have been targeted by so-called ‘killer clowns’.
A group called Killer Clowns North East posted on social networking site Instagram that they would ‘hit’ Harton Technology College, Mortimer Community College and South Shields School later this month.
Police have moved to reassure parents in the borough that they will take action against any offenders.
They insist they are taking the threats “seriously” amid a spate of similar incidents across the country.
Officers in Newcastle have had six reports of people dressed as clowns jumping out of bushes to scare passing schoolchildren.
The craze came from the US and has spread on social media, with a Facebook page sharing photos and videos of the incidents.
Our officers are fully aware of these incidents and our high visibility patrols will be continuing over the coming days to reassure concerned members of the publicNorthumbria Police spokesman
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Our officers have been on high visibility patrol across the region to reassure the public in light of incidents involving people dressing up as clowns.
“We know that people have concerns about the incidents and we have already said that any behaviour that causes alarm and distress is not welcome in our local communities.
“This also applies to social media, where we have been made aware of some messages on both Facebook and Instagram in which individuals have threatened to turn up at different locations dressed as clowns.
“Our officers are fully aware of these incidents and our high-visibility patrols will be continuing over the coming days to reassure concerned members of the public. We still do not believe there to be any risk to any members of the public, but we will always take this type of incident seriously.
“Anyone with any concerns should not hesitate to contact police on 101, and rest assured we will take appropriate action against anyone involving themselves in these types of incidents.”
The dates the group said it would be visiting the South Tyneside schools are October 26, 27 and 28 – during the half-term break.
Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Copycat clown incidents seem to be sweeping the globe, not just South Tyneside, and they are causing upset and distress to their victims. I would appeal to anyone who is intending to take part in copycat incidents to think again and stop. Anyone who has any information about those who are behind this should contact the police immediately.”