Suffolk residents are being reminded to display Halloween posters in their homes to let trick-or-treaters know if they are welcome or not.
Halloween should be a fun celebration, with children enjoying dressing up as ghosts, witches or other assorted monsters, and visiting neighbouring householders happy to hand over sweets to, as superstition suggests, ward off evil spirits.
However, seasonal high spirits can sometimes cross the line and be seen as antisocial or even intimidating. Occasionally groups of people knock at every door whether they know the residents or not, demanding some sort of gift or payment. For the vulnerable or older members of the community this can be both a distressing and intimidating experience.
Two Halloween posters are available to download from the Suffolk Constabulary website for members of the public to display, indicating whether they welcome trick or treaters. These can be downloaded from: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/news/latest-news/08-10-2018/treat-others-fun-not-frights-halloween
Community Engagement and Crime Reduction Sergeant Steve Wright said: "We hope that this year, as was the case 12 months ago, people will take a responsible attitude to Halloween. While we don’t want youngsters to think we are picking on them or trying to spoil their fun, it is important that everyone understands the consequences of irresponsible behaviour for themselves and others.
"If you are planning to go out trick or treating, please make sure you only visit those who are happy to take part and please respect residents who may not want to be disturbed. We are also appealing to the public in general to be a little more tolerant of the behaviour of those celebrating Halloween.
"Last year, officers conducting patrols encountered a number of people out enjoying Halloween, the vast majority of whom were found to be in good spirits and behaving considerately towards others and we hope that we find the same this time round.
"We would also like to remind people that anyone carrying out activities that may scare members of the public could be committing public order offences and may be subject to arrest.
"There will be extra patrols throughout the county and each area has a specific set of initiatives for tackling any disturbances caused by unruly celebrations. Officers on patrol will be looking out for unsafe or irresponsible behaviour, particularly offences such as egg throwing or people setting off fireworks in public places as Bonfire Night takes place a few days later."
The damage caused by egg throwing will be treated as criminal damage and those caught throwing eggs will be prosecuted - if found guilty they face a criminal record.
Retailers across the counties are being encouraged to restrict the sale of eggs and flour to young people in the run up to Halloween, and are being reminded of the legal requirements when it comes to selling fireworks. It is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under 18 and to sell fireworks that fly erratically including mini rockets and bangers.
During the Halloween and Bonfire Night period, safety messages will be posted from Suffolk Constabulary’s social media accounts.
Suffolk’s Community Engagement Officers and Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be in their respective areas handing out posters to local shops in their communities making them aware of the work they will be doing in the run up to Halloween – they will also be posting messages on their respective Facebook local accounts in the build up to Halloween.
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Trick-or-treating can be great fun, and I don’t want to spoil that fun, but I would ask that those taking part keep themselves safe and be respectful to others.
"For those on the receiving end of trick-or-treaters, particularly the old and vulnerable, it can be quite a upsetting experience. My message to anyone planning to go trick-or-treating is, by all means enjoy yourselves and have fun, but please give some thought to those who don’t want to join in. The safest option is to only visit people you know.”
If you do have any concerns, please call 999 in an emergency, or call 101 for non-emergency assistance. Help us keep our communities safe by reporting any suspicious activity. Alternatively, please pass useful information about any incident via https://www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/report-crime.
Tips for having a "spookerific” Halloween
• Never go trick or treating alone or split up from your friends.
• Always check with your parents or carer first.
• Only go to houses where you or your friends know who lives there.
• Don’t talk to strangers on the street or go off with them.
• Stay in well-lit areas.
• Ensure you can be seen by wearing reflective clothing and carry a torch.
• Take care when crossing roads - it may be hard to see so well in a costume.
• Although Halloween is about looking spooky, be careful not to frighten those who do not want to take part.
• Eggs and flour make a mess - most shops won’t sell them to under-16s over Halloween.