Creepy clown craze sweeps the globe

That's the message from police after a rise in the number of calls over the "creepy clown" craze that has swept America - and has now arrived in the UK.

"I'm not surprised, a lot of these masks are quite scary and very inappropriate", he added.

Superintendent Simon Thompson said: "In the run up to Halloween we are seeing an increase in the number of incidents causing fear in public places".

Surrey and Hampshire police forces have also received reports of intimidating clowns.

Incidents reported to police in the United Kingdom have included four children from Durham aged 11 or 12 being followed to school on Friday by a man in a clown outfit who was armed with a knife.

On Sunday, Thames Valley Police said they were called to 14 clown-related incidents in 24 hours.

The clown sightings started around Greenville, South Carolina, in August, when police received reports of clowns standing silently by roadsides, lurking near laundromats and trying to lure children into the woods with bags of cash and green laser lights.

That came after Crookston Police responded to the Taco John's at 8:30 p.m. for a report of an 11-year-old who had been chased by three or four people, one of whom was dressed as a clown, according to a news release.

CUMBRIA'S part in the worldwide "clown craze" has escalated, after a 13-year-old girl was threatened with rape and having her throat cut by someone posing as a clown on the social media site Instagram, police have confirmed.

A police statement detailed how on Saturday evening a teenage girl was "confronted by an unknown person dressed as a clown and wielding what appeared to be a baseball bat".

Sussex Police warned pranksters they could face arrest and urged people not to dress up as clowns and frighten strangers with a weapon. Clown have been freaking children out for years.

Superintendent Paul Bartolomeo, of Hampshire police, said: "We don't want to be killjoys but some of these incidents have been extremely frightening for those involved".

"The man in this incident on Wednesday was dressed distinctly as a clown with a red wig".

"Parents have a responsibility too and we would encourage anyone who thinks their children may be doing this to have a conversation with them so they understand the consequences". They could be arrested and ultimately end up with a criminal record.

"We are hoping that this craze will pass this week and we'd urge the small minority of people still taking part to stop".