A strange craze that involves people dressing up as gruesome creepy clowns and terrifying passers-by has spread to the UK from America.

Police arrested a teenager in Newcastle after a student was chased by someone dressed as a clown, and it could be just a matter of time before the sinister craze spreads to the streets of south-east London and north Kent. 

Megan Bell has told how she feared for her life when a prankster dressed as a clown chased her down the road in Newcastle.

The 17-year-old, who has a "life-long fear of clowns", said she was walking home at around 8pm on Tuesday when she was confronted by a male in a costume and mask.

"I panicked... and just started to run in the opposite direction screaming and shouting. The 'clown' chased after me for about 20 seconds."

Schoolchildren across the city have been targeted by people dressed in the costumes, apparently inspired by a similar craze in the US.

None were attacked or physically harmed, but police investigating the incidents said one teenager had been arrested in possession of a "bladed article".

Megan said she was close to home during the incident but felt "very scared, and vulnerable, as I was a girl on my own".

"When (he) started chasing after me I felt scared for my life. He wasn't armed that I know of," she added.

In a Facebook post shortly after the scare, she warned others: "Please be careful; if you see it or it happens to you ring 101, they WILL do something about it."

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said Tuesday's arrest should "act as a clear warning to others who are actively seeking to cause distress and potentially harm others".

The incidents follow a number of reports of men in the US dressed as clowns trying to lure young children into woods, as well as brandishing knives and guns.

Scary clown hysteria has spread across the United States and hundreds of people have posted their sightings online.

The @SpookyClowns Twitter account, which has 162,000 followers, has been sharing some of the creepiest videos and pictures.

This 'sighting' was shared from Kennebunk in Maine: 

A 'security camera' recorded this creepy clip shared on October 3: 

And this dramatic clip was shot in St Louis, Missouri: