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Cops warn shops not to sell 'killer clown' costumes

Forces across the UK have warned that jokers or criminals using the costumes to scare innocent members of the public will face arrest
Forces across the UK have warned that jokers or criminals using the costumes to scare innocent members of the public will face arrest

Fancy dress shops have been asked not to sell clown costumes to anyone they think might be a prankster amid the ongoing "killer clown" craze.

Forces across the UK have warned that jokers or criminals using the costumes to scare innocent members of the public will face arrest - as they deal with a wave of reports.

Officers in Newcastle and Gateshead have visited shops to ask them not to sell the costumes to anyone they suspect might be up to no good, as the US-born fad continues to grip the UK.

Northumbria Police has also warned it will send officers to each of a list of schools that a group calling itself killerclownsnortheast said that it was planning to "hit".

Retailer Angels Fancy Dress, which has two London stores and trades online as fancydress.com, said it had no plans to withdraw clown costumes despite seeing a "clear surge" in demand.

It said it was not its responsibility to "withdraw a technically inoffensive item in response to a fad".

A slew of encounters have been reported to British forces. Kent Police received reports of 59 clown-related incidents between October 7 and 10. Thames Valley Police dealt with 14 reports in the space of 24 hours at the weekend.

The latest reports include armed police from Scotland Yard's aviation unit arresting a suspect wearing a clown mask and carrying a fake gun in Hillingdon, west London, on Tuesday, about five miles (8km) from Heathrow Airport.

There have also been some serious injuries - the Mirror reported that kickboxer Simon Chinery, 28, had his fingers cut "to the bone" when he tried to disarm a knife-wielding clown, while 17-year-old Owen Russell told the Sheffield Star he needed stitches after a tree branch was thrown at him by an attacker wearing a clown costume.

In the US, McDonald's bosses have said they are being "thoughtful" about appearances by the fast food giant's clown mascot Ronald McDonald amid increased fears.

On Tuesday, an 18-year-old, from Penyrheol, Caerphilly, was landed with what is thought to be the first criminal record connected with the "killer clowns" when he was issued with a fixed penalty notice and fined £90 for a public order offence.

Gwent Police said they responded to reports that a man dressed as a clown had been intimidating children outside St Cenydd Comprehensive School in Caerphilly.

The craze has led McDonald's bosses in the US to reduce the number of public appearances by the fast food giant's clown mascot Ronald McDonald.

But despite the furore retailer Angels Fancy Dress, which has two London stores and trades online as fancydress.com, said it had no plans to withdraw clown costumes despite seeing a "clear surge" in demand.

It said it was not its responsibility to "withdraw a technically inoffensive item in response to a fad".