A large-scale enquiry has revealed that years after promises were made to tackle widespread discrimination against clowns in the Metropolitan police, the old clownist attitudes remain ingrained among the force.
Figures recently revealed show that members of London's clown population are twice as likely as non-clowns to be stopped and searched, arrested, or have a custard pie flung into their faces.
One clown spoke today of his his experiences facing daily coulrophobia from London's police. "They pick on you just because you don't look like them, just because we're different. Yes, I have huge clown feet and a pair of enormous trousers threaded round a hoop on braces, ready to be filled with water, but underneath I'm just the same as you."
Another spoke of the persistent low-level prejudice he continually faces. "When I said my name was 'Coco', he asked if I was trying to be funny," he complained. "It's such a stereotype, assuming that we're all trying to be funny, just because we might have big red noses and enormous false smiles made of make-up. Though to be fair, squirting him with my plastic flower buttonhole can't have helped."
One victimised clown spoke of being unfairly targeted while driving his car through Islington in North London. "So I stop at the Essex Road traffic lights, and quite innocently my car collapses in a spectacular heap, with the wheels falling outwards, the chassis slumping to the tarmac, leaving me standing there holding the steering wheel. Nothing out of the ordinary, you'd think, but suddenly there's coppers everywhere, as if I'm some kind of menace."
"They were very insulting, too, calling me 'Bozo'", he claimed, before admitting that this is in fact his name. "But they weren't to know that," he insisted.
Metropolitan Police chief Sir Paul Stephenson refused to accept that his force was still suffering from endemic clownism. "My men have no interest whatsoever in harassing the innocent clown in the street," he insisted this morning. "We're far more more committed to tracking down the ringleaders. In fact, some of my best friends are clowns, as indeed are many of my officers."