STAFFORDSHIRE Police are warning pranksters they may face criminal charges if caught clowning around in the street wearing ‘killer clown’ masks.

The force says it has received a number of reports of incidents relating to the scary craze which started in America and which involves people dressing up as clowns and jumping out on unsuspecting victims – in some instances armed with knives.

A spokesman said: “We have a received a number of reports relating to this phenomenon across the area, and we’re also aware of rumours that are circulating on social media.

“While we appreciate Halloween is just a short time away, scaring people – especially children and vulnerable people – in this way is completely unacceptable and could constitute an offence.”

The clown craze is believed to have taken inspiration from horror novelist Stephen King’s 1980s tale It.

Anyone who sees any suspicious clown activity, or who has been intimidated or upset by such an incident, is urged to call Staffordshire Police immediately on 101.