GWENT Police have warned that action will be taken against anyone caught taking part in the ‘creepy clown’ craze - which involves people dressing up as clowns to deliberately scare or intimidate others.

It follows a spate of 18 reported incidents across Gwent over the weekend.

In one case, a 10-year-old Tredegar schoolboy was left with a large bruise after a stone was thrown at him by someone dressed in a clown costume.

Zoe Griffiths, 37, of Attlee Way, Tredegar, said that her son Ben was walking through Bedwellty Park with friends on Friday, around 6pm, when they heard a laugh.

“Next thing, a clown comes out of the trees and my son and his friends start running,” she said.

“My son must have been a little bit slow and something hit him.

“He didn’t see what it was because it happened fast but he thinks it was a rock. 

“He has a big black bruise.”

Miss Griffiths said that she found about the incident on Saturday. 

“It's ridiculous,” she said.

“I’m angry, what gives them the right to scare and throw something at him? 

“Someone is going to get hurt, something needs to be done.” 

A Facebook page, Clown Sightings UK, has numerous accounts of similar incidents.

One page user said of an incident in Newport on Sunday: "I was just walking down Maesglas Road and a clown wearing a full head mask with ginger hair came out of the alleyway laughing and followed me all the way up to the Tesco on Cardiff Road.

"It was the scariest thing I've ever encountered, don't think he had a weapon of any sort, but still, it definitely wasn't a joke."

Gwent Police said there had been reports in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen.

And an alert issued yesterday on Gwent Now, a free community messaging system providing the latest crime notifications, said that Gwent Police had dealt with a group of children aged between eight and 12 who were so scared of being attacked that one was carrying a carving knife for protection.

Chief inspector Paul Staniforth said: “We’ve now received 18 reports of people dressed up as clowns throughout Gwent. 

"Some of the reports have included, clowns running through gardens and peering through windows, lurking around shopping centres, parks and schools and jumping from trees. Fortunately, to date, we’ve had no reports of anyone being harmed during these reports.

“The behaviour of these individuals has the potential to cause shock and panic and we are extremely concerned that this could result in somebody becoming seriously injured or unwell.

"Gwent Police will not tolerate such behaviour and anyone seeking to cause distress and potential harm to anyone will be arrested for a Public Order offence. 

"They could then potentially end up with a criminal record. In addition to this, if you are caught carrying a weapon or an imitation weapon the consequences of your criminal actions will be a lot more serious.

“Another serious issue that people taking part in this craze are not thinking of is the impact on our resources. 

"Every call that comes in, is taking our officers away from people that need us most. 

"My message is to those thinking about involving themselves in these sort of crimes is think – think about the impact on the children, the elderly, the public and the consequences of what you’re doing.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, added: “We want people to enjoy themselves and although the creepy clown craze may seem like harmless fun on the surface, it is quite frightening to those who experience it, especially for young children and older people who may feel vulnerable. We have heard how children have been understandably upset and distressed by some incidents. 

"People need to think about the consequences of their action on others. This practice could be dangerous as calls from distressed residents can tie up resources which should be responding to more serious incidents.”