Message from Sergeant White of Sanderstead’s local policing team.
Police forces across England have been called to dozens of incidents in the last few days whereby pranksters are dressing as clowns, sometimes armed with weapons, to deliberately scare people. This comes following a craze that started in the US.
We have recently been liaising with Riddlesdown Collegiate regarding this problem as there have been a number of alleged clown sightings on the common, Riddlesdown Road and Godstone Road. As yet, none of these sightings have met the threshold of a criminal offence, however I am aware that anti-social behaviour can leave people, and particularly young school pupils feeling scared, anxious and intimidated.
In the run up to Halloween it is expected that these types of incidents will increase but with the launch of our annual Autumn Nights campaign in the coming weeks, Safer Neighbourhood Officers working in partnership with other agencies will be carrying out additional reassurance patrols and will be on hand for those who are especially vulnerable during this period.
There is nothing at this stage to suggest that any pupils have been involved but as with all crazes, they tend to provoke copycats. Please remind your pupils to carefully consider the impact their actions have on others and to act in a responsible manner and understand that they could be prosecuted if a criminal offence is committed.
In terms of personal safety advice, we would urge pupils to keep to well-lit areas and never take short cuts through alleyways or dark isolated areas when making their way to and from school and to consider carrying a torch as the hours of daylight become less. We would also urge them to travel to and from school in groups, to be aware of their surroundings, to look after their friends so that they don’t become vulnerable and never to take their safety for granted. If they feel uneasy about a situation, trust their instincts, leave the area and head towards a public place.
We would actively encourage all clown related anti-social behaviour or crime to be reported to the police via 101 if not an emergency. In an emergency, you should always call 999. An emergency is: when a crime is happening, when someone suspected of a crime is nearby, or when someone is injured, being threatened, or in danger.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information or advice.
The MPS have also issued a response, please read:
If you have any queries, please contact the team.