The human imagination can play cruel tricks, often summoning fear and suspicion out of thin air.
Creaking floorboards, an inexplicable shudder down the spine when alone in an empty room or the whisper of wind through an old house can frighten even the most hardened sceptics.
Most of us, when frightened by things going bump in the night, might joke about calling '80s spectre-bashing team the Ghostbusters.
But who do you call if there’s something strange in your neighbourhood? If something’s weird and it don’t look good? Strathclyde Police, apparently.
According to police records, 144 people in Glasgow have reported spooky goings on to Strathclyde Police over the past five years - between April 2007 and March 2012. It’s not just those pesky ghosts that have been frightening locals either, but rogue zombies and plenty of Glaswegian-stealing aliens.
Many of the frightened callers reported ghosts in their house, sometimes accusing these spirits of robbing them or telling them what to do.
One caller – apparently under the influence of alcohol – informed the police he was going to ‘do in’ the ghosts haunting him when he phoned to report their otherworldly presence. Another claimed that white witches were invading his house.
In one of the spookier reports, an individual called in to say that ghosts were wandering around the walls of a funeral parlour.
Many callers reported seeing UFOs in the sky above the city, including sequences of lights and burning bright colours. Some also believed they had been abducted by critters from outer space and needed assistance from the police.
This should come as no surprise to us really. In 2009 Glasgow was the only city in Scotland to make it into the Virgin Media Files UK top 10 for UFO-spotting. In the same year, STV was flooded with citizen reports of UFO sightings from across Scotland.
James Hume, a paranormal investigator for GPI (Glasgow Paranormal Investigators) believes that these sort of reports – however foolish they may seem to sceptics, ought to be taken seriously for the sake of the callers. James volunteers to enter people’s homes and other locations to work out the mysterious occurences keeping the residents awake at night.
“I think it’s something that needs to be taken seriously,” said James.
“If one person living in a house hears noises, there’s lights flickering on and off or there’s some other physical anomaly they should call a professional – such as a plumber, surveyor etc to rule out any natural causes.”
James and his team use thermal imaging cameras and other scientific equipment during their investigations in order to rule out any of these natural disturbances.
“I would bet that only a small amount of calls that are taken are paranormal activity – at the end of the day we go to locations and seven times out of ten it’s generally natural occurences causing the effects.
“After that, if the disturbance is still going on, it’s important the person has someone else to speak to. I know it’s a cliché – but who are you going to get in touch with if this stuff is going on?”
Despite spending much of his time investigating the city’s paranormal activity, James reckons that Glasgow is no more supernaturally active than any other city in the UK, and that older cities such as York and Derby are more likely to be haunted.
While many of the reports to Strathclyde Police are likely to be prank calls, emergency phone-ins from drunk people or signs of an individual experiencing mental health problems, there are still many people who are adamant that they witnessed paranormal activity.
- Ghost hunting in Glasgow - could you be a paranormal private eye?
- Ghost hunters run historic first event in Govanhill pool