Mercury Opinion: Trick or treat – a night of fun or fear?
The issue of Hallowe'en and trick or treat is one that divides people. For many, it is simply children visiting family, friends or neighbours and indulging in a bit of harmless fun that results in them coming home with a handful of sweets.
Unfortunately, for many others, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable, it is a night filled with fear.
Hallowe'en trick or treat is one of those customs that has grown rapidly during the past few decades.
Twenty years ago, very few people were involved in the custom. It was simply an American tradition that we saw on our televisions.
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Now, more and more shops are filled with costumes and supermarkets pile up the pumpkins.
In the best examples, the night has become a family event.
Young children supervised by a parent visit neighbours and friends and it is pleasant night for all those involved.
In the worst examples, the event is hijacked by youths expecting treats who are quite prepared to throw eggs, flour or abuse on a refusal.
It is not surprising, therefore, that it is a night filled with uncertainty for many elderly or vulnerable people.
They, quite rightly, don't like answering their doors to strangers after dark.
In past years, Leicestershire police have reported a whole series of problems associated with trick or treat night.
They have done a lot of work to try to minimise the problems and the situation has improved.
We hope that these improvements will continue.
That is why we are more than happy to carry a full-page poster that the police have put together for tonight.
The poster simply states: "No thanks trick or treaters. Please don't knock on this door as we do not wish to take part."
It is a simple, but effective measure if those involved heed people's wishes.
We have no wish to be killjoys and hope that those taking part have an enjoyable night.
Let's also hope that those taking part also honour the wishes of those not wanting to be part of the tradition and it is a peaceful night for all.
Posters can be downloaded here: