Halloween warning...

PUBLISHED: 14:04 25 October 2007 | UPDATED: 21:50 29 May 2010

HALLOWEEN is much fun for youngsters, but Essex Police will be taking a dim view on anyone who engages in criminal activity over the period. While trick or treating and other Halloween-related mischief might be tremendous fun for those taking part, this t

HALLOWEEN is much fun for youngsters, but Essex Police will be taking a dim view on anyone who engages in criminal activity over the period.

While trick or treating and other Halloween-related mischief might be tremendous fun for those taking part, this time of year can be an anxious one for elderly residents and people living alone.

Essex Police Sgt Nathalie Carr said: "Halloween should not be used as a chance to upset others. We are appealing to young people to be respectful to others.

"It might seem like harmless fun, but anyone throwing eggs and flour on Halloween, or scaring others, could end up in a mess themselves.

"You could be arrested and these pranks could end up affecting your future. Likely penalties include a criminal conviction which would reduce the chances of the convicted person getting a job."

Essex Police has been working closely with schools, shopkeepers and people who have offended on previous Halloweens to get their "safe Halloween" message across.

Officers have visited schools to speak to students to say that what they perceive as harmless fun may be interpreted as intimidating or frightening by some people.

Shopkeepers are being asked to use common sense when selling eggs or flour to young people, and not to serve items to anyone they suspect will misuse them.

Letters have been sent to the homes of everyone who was spoken to about their behaviour last year - if any of these people are arrested this year, the warning letter will be brought to the attention of the courts.

Sgt Carr reminded homeowners that they were under no obligation to open the door or respond to anyone ringing their doorbell.

"If there are any problems or incidents outside their house and they are concerned they can ring police for advice or assistance," she said.

"There will be a high level of visible policing in all districts in Essex on Halloween offering public reassurance and deterring antisocial behaviour.

"We urge people to only knock on the homes of people they know, but better still why not stay at home and have a Halloween party instead?"

Parents who let their children go out trick or treating should ensure they do not go off with or talk to strangers, and that they should always be accompanied by an adult.

- AN EVENING of monster fun is open to primary-age children in Saffron Walden at the end of the month, at the Baptist Church's annual Halloween party.

Any children looking to have a wail of a time on the scariest night of the year should book tickets for the Monster Party now - parents are invited too, so you can even take your mummy.

Rev Simon Mattholie said: "We are a church that likes to have fun, and Halloween is no exception. Many people are concerned about trick-or-treating, so we have come up with an alternative: a monster-theme party."

It will include a monster meal, two hours of games, and prizes for the best fancy dress costumes. Tickets, are £2 per child or £5 per family. Call 01223 523031.

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