A grandmother has spoken of her horror at seeing images of children brandishing knives dripping with blood being used to sell Halloween costumes in Bluewater.

Linda Taylor, 63, took her ten-year-old granddaughter to the shopping centre's pop-up store, Halloween HQ, in the hope of finding an appropriate outfit for the trick-or-treating season.

Instead, she found a collection of costumes sold with images of children holding weapons in their hands.

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An evil clown costume

Ms Taylor, from Welling, said: "In today's world of knife crime, displaying photos of kids holding knives is completely inappropriate.

"If the costumes are for adults, obviously that's fine, but these are clearly aimed at children.

"They're not your usual goblins, pumpkins and witches - it's horrendous."

The costumes, on sale for three year olds and upwards, include a 'psycho clown', 'zombie clown' and 'possessed doll'.

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A possessed doll costume

Ms Taylor, who works in child protection, fears the influence the images could have on impressionable youngsters.

"I work with children with mental health problems, and can easily see how they might be influenced," she said.

"You can imagine a child picking up a knife at home to imitate the photo.

"It really unnerved my granddaughter. Even she asked why a shop would sell costumes like that to children her age."

Halloween HQ, based in Ireland, occupies a retail space in Bluewater for the month of October each year, selling "costumes, make-up and accessories, home decorations, party and trick or treat related items".

A spokesperson for Bluewater said: "We cannot speak on behalf of an individual retailer, give information about their specific stock, or prohibit items being sold in-store that adhere to trading laws."

Halloween HQ has been contacted for comment.