Crazed clowns roam our streets …

...but who is looking after our children!

How can we protect our community against knife attacks and stop people causing a public order offence

The present craze of dressing up as a clown and scaring people, leads us to ask the question: how can we protect our children in the community?

Dressing up as a clown and being seen in public is not an offence. However when someone dresses up as a clown with the intention of causing someone harassment, alarm and distress they are committing a public order offence. Needless to say offences involving carrying a weapon or carrying out any type of attack on a person are serious offences. The current press attention would make it difficult for a person to argue that their actions were only meant as a joke, as dressing up as a clown is clearly causing people to be extremely concerned.

With Halloween fast approaching the other question to ask is: is it okay to go out dressed up in a costume with the intention of scaring other individuals?

The fact that Halloween is a recognised and celebrated occasion would not afford an individual a guaranteed defence to a charge relating to public order. If it could be proved that an individual dressed up and went out with the intention of causing another individual harassment alarm or distress then although the occasion happens to be Halloween they could still be liable to prosecution.

With some people dressing up with the intention of committing offences, then raises the question that a parent sending out their child, unaccompanied into the local community at night without adequate supervision could be committing an offence of neglect.

The law states that if a person over the age of 16, who has the responsibility for a child under that age, ill-treats, neglects, abandons, or exposes that child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health, including mental health then the person would be committing an offence.

Throughout a child’s upbringing we teach them not to speak or take sweets from strangers and not to go into anyone's house that they don't know. Parents need to consider, whether sending their children out without supervision into the community to partake in trick-or-treating could be putting their children at risk.

If children go trick-or-treating parents should be strongly advised to go with their children to ensure they are not at risk.

The recent events of people dressing up and attacking others in the community casts a shadow over Halloween. Clearly common sense needs to be used so that the public order offences and child neglect offences are not committed  and the general safety of all children is ensured.

If you require legal advice or help relating to a criminal matter please contact our Crime team on 01733 882800 or by email at info@hcsolicitors.co.uk .

Author

Andy Cave, Partner & Solicitor

andy.cave@hcsolicitors.co.uk

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.