In one incident in the city of Montpellier in southern France a 35-year-old man was hit 30 times with an iron bar as a man dressed as a clown tried to rob him.

He was jailed for four months.

Now the mayor of Vendargues, near Montpellier, Pierre Dudieuzere, has issued a complete ban on clown costumes.

The area, which has a population of around 6,000, is believed to be the first to clampdown on the outfits.