Cambridgeshire police have warned that anyone thinking of dressing as a clown in order to scare members of the public in Huntingdonshire could face prosecution.

Reports of people across the UK being harassed and chased by pranksters dressed as clowns have been on the increase in recent days as part of an online craze that started in the United States.

Responding to reports, a spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said on Monday: "We were contacted yesterday evening (Sunday) about online reports suggesting a group of people were planning to dress as clowns and act anti-socially in Huntingdon.

"A dispersal order was put in place and officers attended the area close to Hinchingbrooke Park. Nobody in a clown costume was located."

Inspector Paul Rogerson added: "With Halloween around the corner I'd like to take this opportunity to remind people that deliberately causing distress to another person could result in criminal prosecution.

"In the coming weeks we do not want to spoil the fun of genuine trick or treaters, however anti-social behaviour and intentionally causing distress to others will not be tolerated."

And, in an e-mail reportedly sent to parents on Monday, St Peter's School advised students to walk in groups and stay aware of their surroundings.

The e-mail added: "Some students have told members of staff that they are worried by the craze and we are keen to support our community in ensuring that students can get to and from school safely."