A copycat Facebook craze for dressing up as a clown and surprising members of the public has spread to Wisbech with police reports of a man seen in Fenland villages.

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The bizarre trend involves people dressing as clowns and either standing in a public place or in some cases tapping on peoples windows.

Incidents locally include two sightings in Fenland villages and a clown spotted chasing people in King’s Lynn town centre.

In both cases police have said it is not illegal to dress up as a clown.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said the incidents in the county included: “A clown appearing on a football pitch, charity collectors dressed as clowns, a person dressed as a clown in the road, a person was seen to remove a clown outfit and get into a vehicle, a person dressed as a clown was tapping on windows/knocking on doors and a person dressed as a clown was seen in different villages in the Fenland area.”

Two incidents were reported to Wisbech Police, three in Peterborough and on ein St Neots.

A force spokesman said: “It’s not illegal to dress as a clown and the people reporting may have thought they were genuinely acting suspiciously. If it was a joke call then it would be taking up the time of a call taker who could be dealing with a genuine emergency.”

The fad is believed to have been started by a man on Facebook known as the Northampton Clown, who is thought to be a University student prankster.

Documents released using freedom of information laws have revealed six incidents were reported to Cambridgeshire police in the past year to the end of November 2013.

Norfolk Police told members of the public to ignore clowns in the street after a number of sightings around King’s Lynn.

These included a person in a “full clown outfit” with a red suit and red hair chasing members of the public.

Superintendent Carl Edwards said no one had been injured or assaulted.

He added that dressing as a clown was not illegal but the force would offer those behind the make-up “strong words of advice”.

Several police forces have issued warnings after reported sightings which include reports to Derbyshire Police of a clown carrying a knife and incidents in South Yorkshire of a clown staring through the windows of people’s homes.

The trend first emerged when the Northampton Clown rose to prominence in September, gaining more than 200,000 “likes” on Facebook by posting photos of himself in public places calling on local people to “spot him”. He most recently uploaded a photo taken on New Year’s Day.

He defended his behaviour, writing on the social networking site: “I don’t terrorise people, I just want to be spotted.”

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