Send in the clowns

Send in the clowns


What is scarier: a maniacal clown or a human rights lawyer?

The US craze of pranksters dressing up as ‘killer clowns’ in hopes of scaring members of the public has spread to the UK, with the police forced to take action against a number of culprits.

According to the BBC, arrests have been made in Norwich and County Durham, while further reports have been made of creepy clowns terrorising locals across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Sussex, and Suffolk.

With such incidents now widespread across the country in the build- up to Halloween, Nigel Richardson, a criminal defence partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said the reports demonstrated antisocial behaviour that he expected would lead to further arrests.

‘Dressing as a clown doesn’t actually make this funny,’ he said. ‘The behaviour of people dressed as clowns who purposely intimidate or distress others easily falls within section 4A or section 5 of the Public Order Act. These sections criminalise disorderly behaviour and covers the intention or likelihood of causing a person harassment, alarm, or distress.

‘Section 4 is punishable by six months’ imprisonment, while section 5 is fineable. So far as dealing with people loitering in clown outfits but not actually doing anything, they could be threatened with arrest for behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace. However, actual arrest could be deemed rather heavy-handed.’

The fright craze of 2016 could not have come at a worse time for the government, which has spent much of the past fortnight trying to convince the public that the real boogeymen to fear are those bloodsucking ‘left- wing, activist human rights lawyers’. How terrifying.