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Costumed yobs in Sussex give clowns a bad name
12:20pm Tuesday 31st December 2013 in News
Britain's clowning community fears its good name has been tarnished after a spate of incidents involving people in costume.
Police forces across the country have noticed this growing trend and in Sussex there have been three incidents involving people dressed up as clowns.
In June a small group of local people on a night out dressed as clowns became involved in an altercation with two men in George Street, Hastings.
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One of the group, a 22-year old Hastings man, received a puncture wound to his shoulder and was discharged from the Conquest Hospital after treatment.
Two men, a 20-year old from St Leonards and a 19-year old from Hastings, were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harmand were later released on police bail until July 25 while enquiries continued.
On August 27 two people, one dressed in a clown’s costume, were reported for selling balloons for charity in Princes Park in Eastbourne. For a reason which is not clear to the police someone called the force, but on arrival the two had gone.
And on November 2, police received a report a motor bike had been ridden off-road and was speeding by Shottermill Ponds, Haslemere, by two people – the driver allegedly wore a plastic clown’s mask.
Police attended and found the bike abandoned.
Tony Eldridge, secretary of Clowns International which represents the entertainers in Britain, said the situation had escalated beyond harmless fun dressing up as clowns.
The copycat craze – believed to have been started by a man known on Facebook as the Northampton Clown – involved people dressing as the circus characters to surprise passers-by in public places.
Mr Eldridge, whose clown name is Bluebottle, said: “This is doing clowning no favours and is harming society.
“The people behind it might see it as a bit of a laugh, but for the victims it can be a horrible experience.
“The fear of clowns – coulrophobia – is a real thing and some people will react very badly to this. Not to mention people who are elderly or vulnerable.
“This has nothing to do with clowning; it’s a small group of people with stupid views and it spoils the fun for everybody else.”
He added that most legitimate entertainers follow a code of clown conduct which includes not wearing their costume in public.
“We have to reclaim clowning as a positive thing which brings happiness,” he added.
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