The “Killer Clown” craze has spread to Britain, where police fear it will spike in the run-up to Halloween, and true clowns are beginning to speak out.
Police forces have been called to several incidents around the country involving pranksters dressing up as scary clowns to jump out and frighten people — in some cases, reportedly brandishing knives.
British clowns said they wanted defend the reputation of their profession in the face of the craze, which started in the United States.
“The joke now has gone a little bit too far,” Andy the Clown, who has been a full-time clown for 10 years, told AFP on Tuesday.
At a clown symposium last week in Barcelona, clowns discussed the craze and combating the threat to the image of clowning through using their networks and educating people, he said.
“The public are intelligent enough to know the difference between an idiot in a costume and someone you would invite into your home for a children’s birthday party,” said Andy — real name Andrew Davis.
“My clowning comes from the heart, wanting to make people happy and smile through entertainment, not to scare people.”
London police said Tuesday they were investigating reported “Killer Clown” incidents, three of which met the threshold of a criminal offence.
“Anti-social behaviour can leave people feeling scared, anxious and intimidated,” police commander Julian Bennett said in a statement.
“In the run up to Halloween it is expected that these types of incidents will increase,” he said.
In Caerphilly in southeast Wales, an 18-year-old clown prankster was fined for a public order offence.
“I hope this result sends a strong message to anyone thinking about taking part in this craze.
“Their five minutes of what they may think is fun really isn’t worth it,” local police official Paul Staniforth said.
The fad has also broken onto the front pages of Britain’s newspapers, with a headline in The Sun on Tuesday referring to “clown terror”.