Pumpkin carving and ghostly tales, sparklers and bonfire treats. It’s the season for spooky scares and fireworks fun. Unfortunately for some, Halloween surprises and trick or treat visits can be a time they come to dread. Elderly and vulnerable people, pet owners, even families with very young children often find Halloween and Bonfire Night bring upset and worry.

Every year Sussex Police receives calls from people scared or concerned by over enthusiastic trick-or-treat jokers. And as Bonfire Night approaches, random ‘bangs’ and loud firework noises can be frightening and disruptive.

Which is why Horsham District Council’s Community Safety Partnership is urging Halloween and Bonfire Night revellers to have respect and be aware of how their ‘fun’ night out can affect others.

To help deter unwanted Halloween callers, the Partnership has produced an easy to download poster for residents, traders and businesses to display near their front door, gently pointing out that they’d prefer not to be disturbed. The “Sorry, No Trick or Treat” poster wishes callers a Happy Halloween and politely asks callers to respect the wishes of those inside.

While it should help deter unwanted callers, there are other things which can help minimise any upset.

1. Use a spy hole or window to check who is at your door before answering.

2. Don’t open your door to anyone you don’t know.

3. Arrange for a friend or relative to visit on Halloween so you have company.

4. If you must open your door, put on a safety chain first.

5. And if things do get out of hand, call 101 to report crime and anti-social behaviour. For an emergency, ring 999.


According to Horsham District Council Community Safety Manager Greg Charman, Halloween and Bonfire Night really can be frightening for some people.

“We want people to have fun and enjoy what is a wonderful time of year for many, but not at the expense of other people." “What seems like harmless fun can be terrifying for elderly or vulnerable people.”

The same goes for Bonfire Night, when unexpected fireworks, bangs and flashes can be particularly upsetting for the elderly and vulnerable. And, of course, it’s worth bearing in mind how dangerous fireworks can be in the wrong hands or if used inappropriately.

Help and advice on crime and anti-social behaviour is only a click away all year round on the Community Safety Partnership website.

The Partnership is aimed at cutting crime and anti-social behaviour and is made up of representatives from a group of services including Sussex Police and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, councils, health and other groups.

For more detail and to download your Halloween poster, simply click here.

By Sandra Dick