It’s the night when the ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties take to our streets – and it’s going to be either a Trick or Treat for most of us.
Halloween Night is upon us, that annual phenomenon from the USA where being a little Devil is now part of our culture.
Firstly, you need to get into the spirit of things to a certain extent because Trick or Treating is not illegal in the UK.
But here are some tips on how to enjoy – or put up – with the witching hour no matter what side of the door you may be on!
- There’s no minimum age for children to be out demanding sweeties from strangers but to ensure everyone stays safe it’s always advisable to have at least one reasonably responsible adult in charge.
- If you don’t want to annoy your Trick or Treat victims, make sure you get the whole event over and done with by early evening. A knock on the door at 11pm could make more vulnerable householders feel very frightened. In that instance, they have every right to contact the police.
- Trick or Treating is usually fairly benign, but if a householder feels intimidated by the behaviour of older Halloween pranksters, or if that spooky party next door is going on into the small hours, then the police do have the authority to deal with it as they would with any other kind of anti-social behaviour. If a householder refuses to open the door or asks Trick or Treaters to leave their property, they have that right.
- If your property is damaged as a result of a ‘trick’ then you may be able to make a claim for damages against the individual or, if they’re a minor, their parents. If the damage is considerable, or you fear that things are getting out of hand then the advice is always to call the Police and let them handle it. Criminal damage is a criminal matter, so it should be left to the authorities to handle. If you have security cameras, then any footage you capture may be used as evidence.
- If you’re holding a Halloween party, then it’s a great idea to show a few scary films to really get everyone in the right mood. However, if you’re hosting a party for young Halloweeners, then you may need to dial the frights back a touch, unless you want to deal with traumatised kids and their (understandably) irate parents. It isn’t illegal for under-18s to watch 18 category films in the privacy of your own home, however inadvisable it may be, and you need to bear in mind that these days, if a child is traumatised by something they’ve seen or witnessed, then the parents potentially have the right to bring a compensation claim for mental trauma against you. It’s worth keeping things like film showings and spooky party games light-hearted to avoid any potential legal fallout.
- Finally, to faulty fangs or poor-quality pumpkins. If you buy any Halloween merchandise from any shop or online, you are still covered by the Consumers Rights Act. Whatever you buy must be as described and fit for purpose. If it isn’t then you’re fully entitled to a refund, so keep the receipt just in case. If someone is injured as a direct result of, for example, a flammable costume or has a reaction to some face paints, then you’ll need the evidence to prove where you bought the goods in the first place if you want to pursue a compensation claim. A word of warning – much of the cheap Halloween products come from overseas where restrictions and safety controls may not be as rigorous. So, if you’re planning a spot of face painting treat the paints as you would a hair dye and do a skin patch test first (48 hours before you want to use them) to check there’s no adverse reactions.
Just in case you’re not quite here are some other tips from Devon and Cornwall police and our Fire and Rescue Services on how to ‘Have fun and stay safe this Halloween’.
- Not everyone wants you to call at their home. They may have a sleeping child, nervous pet or feel vulnerable. Pumpkins and decorations are a good sign they want to join in, but if the house is in darkness or has a poster politely declining trick or treaters, you should move on.
- Adults: always accompany your children when they are trick-or-treating.
- Go to the houses of people you know or who you are sure are happy for you to call.
- Keep to places that you know and are well lit. Do not take short cuts through gardens, alleyways or parks.
- Watch out for traffic – drivers might not see you.
- If you are wearing a mask make sure that you can see where you are going and are aware of your surroundings.
- Carry a torch and a fully charged mobile phone (if you have one)
- Be careful of lantern flames igniting costumes. Ideally, use battery powered LED candles
Above all, have a happy and spooky Halloween!