Halloween: Concern for elderly as OAPs go into hiding to avoid trick or treaters
ELDERLY people are hiding to avoid being terrorised by teenage trick or treaters.
And as more than 60,000 leaflets have been printed to try and curb the menace this Halloween, it has emerged householders have had their properties daubed with paint while others have had fireworks pushed through letter boxes.
Posters have been sent out to a third of schools across Staffordshire, as well as community groups, ahead of October 31.
The campaign was launched by Saltbox Christian Centre in Hanley over a decade ago to protect the elderly and vulnerable from pranksters turning up at their doors.
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It is backed by Staffordshire Police and encourages residents to attach the signs to their doors and windows to prevent them being scared by trick or treaters.
Saltbox director Lloyd Cooke has been operating the leaflet scheme for more than 10 years.
He said: "The overall impression from people we spoke to was a feeling of annoyance towards trick-or-treaters.
"Some elderly people were afraid to open their doors because they didn't know what they might find.
"And they had actually resorted to hiding at this time of year."
Mr Cooke says campaigners behind the leaflets are concerned about protecting the elderly, the risks to unsupervised children or gangs of teenagers who use Halloween as an excuse to cause trouble.
He said: "People are opening their doors to find children as young as seven or eight doing trick or treating on their own.
"They have genuine concerns about what might happen if they knocked on the wrong house.
"Also, we have heard from people whose gardens have been trashed, who have had fireworks through the letterbox or paint thrown at their properties."
The campaign was initiated originally because of concerns from parents about some of the things their children were getting upto as part of Halloween.
Saltbox decided to speak to residents about the issue and soon realised that there were deeper concerns.
Mr Cooke said: "It has really taken off since the first year, where we printed around 10,000 leaflets.
"A lot of schools come on board because of their work tackling stranger danger. They feel trick-or-treating lulls children into a false sense of security and encourages them to approach strangers."
Robert Marshall, Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for public health and community safety said: "This time of year can be great fun for many people, particularly our younger residents.
"However, it can also be quite frightening for people who are older or more vulnerable. There are safety issues for people taking part in the festivities."
Councillor Marshall added: "We want people to enjoy themselves at the same time as respecting others in their community.
Police Superintendent Dave Holdway said: "The 'No Trick or Treat' cards are a great way for to residents to politely communicate that they don't want youngsters knocking on their door."
To obtain a copy of the leaflet contact Saltbox Leaflets, Gitana Street, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 1DY or email firstname.lastname@example.org