Devon and Cornwall Police have joined condemnation of clown craze

Police say children are being upset Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Devon and Cornwall Police have become the latest force in the West Country to condemn so-called "killer clowns".

They say some pranksters have been trying to upset children and they've received unsubstantiated reports of one clown carrying a weapon.

It follows similar calls from the Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset forces.

This is completely unacceptable. Those taking part in these pranks must realise that their actions are causing distress to the public due to the intimidating and threatening nature of their actions.

Cheif Inspector Kath Farrin, Devon and Cornwall Police

A Plymouth man has filmed what he says was a confrontation with someone dressed as a clown and brandishing a hammer.

George Birkbeck was walking home from the supermarket on Friday night when he says he spotted someone dressed as a 'killer clown'.

He says the clown was stood in the way of his route home and so decided to confront him.

Police have not confirmed Mr Birkbeck's story.

The creepy pranksters have been spotted wielding knives and terrorising children in more than 20 towns and cities.

The craze originated in America last month and has taken social media by storm, with copycat pranksters in the UK donning outfits in a bid to scare the public.

One school in North Devon used assembly to tell children not to be scared, but to report any clown sightings at once.

Those taking part in this ‘Clown Craze’ also need to realise that they are also putting themselves at risk by intimidating people; not all members of the public will run away and you could find yourself confronted by a scared member of public.

Chief Inspector Kath Farrin, Devon and Cornwall Police
Police throughout the region are condemning the pranksters Credit: PA

Meanwhile groups of vigilantes dubbed 'clown hunters' are recruiting volunteers across the region to carry out night patrols and hunt down so-called 'killer clowns'.

And now hundreds of volunteers have taken matters into their own hands and launched themselves on Facebook as The Clown Hunters.

So far more than a dozen patrols have taken place, which have been attended by up to 20 people in towns including Taunton, Yeovil and Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Their Facebook page declares they are "a group of normal guys who have a mission to STOP these idiots dressed as clowns scaring people."

Vigilant groups have now been set up hunt the clowns Credit: ITV

If your group spots a clown perform a citizen's arrest if you can and phone the police.

The Clown Hunters
Fair View Carpark, Barnstaple

People have posted numerous photos of clowns spotted in our region on the Faceook site "Clown Sightings UK". ITV News does not know whether the sightings were genuine or whether any of the clowns pictured were intending to cause distress.

Clown said to be at Transit Way, Plymouth Credit: Plymouth Clown Sightings UK/Facebook
A clown said to be at a Bristol railway station Credit: Clown Sightings Uk/Facebook
Clowns said to be in Swindon Credit: Clown Sightings UK/Facebook
Clown reported at Bradley Stoke Credit: Clown Sightings UK/Facebook

It's not just clowns out there- people have also reported seeing men in sinister masks at Torpoint.

Masked men said to be at Torpoint Credit: Plymouth UK Clown Sightings/Facebook
More masked people allegedly at Torpoint Credit: Plymouth UK Clown Sightings/Facebook