A Co Londonderry school was put on lockdown for a time today following sinister threats from so-called ‘killer clowns’ on social media.
Coleraine Grammar School was forced to keep its students in over their lunch break and close its gates after a message was posted on Instagram around 9.30am.
It is understood the post warned that people dressed in clown costumes would be coming to the school around 1pm.
Police attended the school over lunchtime as a precautionary measure, but the message turned out to be a hoax.
People dressed as clowns have been involved in a spate of incidents across the UK, prompting police forces to issue warnings about the so-called ‘clown craze’ trend.
School children are being targeted on their way to school as part of the “clown craze”, also known as “Killer Clown” - a trend that seems to have been inspired by clown-related pranks in the US.
A masked man carrying a knife left a group of children aged 11 and 12 “upset and distressed” when he jumped out on their way to the Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, at 8.40am this morning.
The PSNI said they have received several reports of social media posts in which people have suggested dressing in clown costumes and going to schools to scare students and teachers.
Police believe the posts originated from people living in England and Dublin.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, District Policing Command said: “I would advise anyone who may be considering posting information on social media platforms to consider what they’re saying. “Encouraging behaviour that has the potential to generate fear or indeed posting threatening messages can lead to a criminal record.
“Crime is crime, whether in the virtual world or the real world and there are consequences. Please don’t get caught up in something that could jeopardise your future.”