Hampshire Constabulary is urging people not to jump on the "creepy clown" bandwagon.

The force said people have been "extremely frightened" and pranksters donning clown masks could be arrested for a public order offence.

It issued a stark warning on Monday (October 10) after a number of incidents.

The "killer clown" craze started in America with people dressed up as clowns jumping out from bushes, chasing people and in some sinister cases, approaching children.

There have been a number of reported incidents in Yateley .

Writing on the Yateley Community Facebook page, one resident reported seeing two clowns in Yateley Green Woods on Sunday. Another said they had seen three by the One Stop/KFC in Reading Road the night before.

An Instagram account has been set up entitled The Clowns of Yateley. With more than 100 followers, it features eight pictures of creepy clowns, including one holding an axe and another with a large spade.

You wouldn't want to meet It's Pennywise down a dark alley
You wouldn't want to meet It's Pennywise down a dark alley

A Facebook site has also been set up called " Aldershot clown", which has been liked by more than 240 people.

Hampshire Constabulary said it has received reports of clowns jumping out and scaring people on the street, including in Farnborough , but refused to release further details.

Superintendent Paul Bartolomeo said: “We don’t want to be killjoys but some of these incidents have been extremely frightening for those involved.

“We would ask people to think about the impact of their actions. What to them is a harmless prank, could be an intimidating and threatening experience to others, especially young children and vulnerable people.

“Also, by taking part in this craze, people could find themselves in a situation which leads to a public order incident. They could be arrested and ultimately end up with a criminal record.

“These incidents are also taking up valuable police time and resources, and will ultimately have an impact on other calls coming into the control room and officers attending other incidents.

“This appears to be a national craze at the moment and we would strongly advise people not to be part of it.”