Clown craze caused calls to cops

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Sightings of creepy clowns caused frightened folk to dial 999 in November after a Facebook Pennywise impersonator started an unusual craze.

A Freedom of Information Request has revealed Derbyshire Police received 29 reports of people dressed as the circus performers in November .

A Facebook group called the Ilkeston Clown documented the whereabouts of the town’s very own clown with users posting sightings all over the area including at Kirk Hallam Church’s graveyard and outside the Bull’s Head pub.

The copycat craze is believed to have started on social network site Facebook and involves people dressing as the Pennywise, from Stephen King’s horror film It, to surprise passers-by in public places.

The trend has led to several police forces issuing warnings across the country.

But a spokeswoman for Derbyshire police says such sightings appear to have been a flash in the pan.

She said: “ It seems to have been a bit of a fad that we are no longer getting any reports of. One or two people have been scared by it yes.

“It was something that started on Facebook and it seems people locally have picked up on what’s happening in other areas of the country and for whatever reason decided to dress like a clown.”

But the trend proved unpopular with professional performers, with many suggesting the clowning trader has suffered from the sightings.

Carlo The Clown, aka entertainer Cliff Carlton, of Ilkeston Road, Heanor, said: “I think it’s being carried out for a bunch of idiots and giving clowns a bad name.

“I even had one youngster call me to ask me if I was the Mansfield Clown!”

Mr Carlton, a performer of 30 years, said colleagues of his had experienced a drop in trade while the sightings had been going on.

“Generally I don’t get much negativity from people,” he added. “They know I’m there to entertain people.”