Failure in Line of Duty: BBC guilty of 'serious lapse' in care of 13-year-old actor

Actor Gregory Piper, who plays Ryan Pilkington in police drama Line of Duty, was not sufficiently protected from emotional distress during filming of a 'highly violent and adult nature'

Children taking part in television programmes must be protected from emotional distress and scenes of violence, Ofcom has warned broadcasters, following a “serious lapse” by the BBC in its duty of care to a 13 year-old actor.

The watchdog has summoned broadcasters to an industry-wide meeting where they will be reminded about their duties to protect the emotional welfare of children.

Ofcom will conduct “spot-checks” on programmes where children are involved, following a series of complaints that broadcasters have failed to follow strict guidelines designed to protect young people.

Ofcom criticised the BBC for failing to ensure the welfare of a 13 year-old boy, who appeared in the hard-hitting BBC2 police drama, Line Of Duty.

Gregory Piper, who played Ryan Pilkington, a child-runner for a violent criminal gang, appeared in scenes in which he was head-butted and tried to sever a policeman’s fingers with pair of bolt-cutters.

At one point, Pilkington, bleeding from his nose as a result of the head butt, holds the cutters and shouts: “Give it, give it, now hold his hand out and give me that fucking finger”.

The boy was also exposed to “sexually explicit language” during scenes.

Investigating a viewer complaint, Ofcom found that the BBC had breached the Broadcasting Code by failing to ensure that a child welfare counsellor or psychologist had considered the appropriateness or potential emotional risk to the boy of his involvement.

Ofcom said it was “particularly concerned that there did not appear to be anyone who was independent and had no direct interest in the child actor's participation in the series involved in the decision making regarding his participation.”

Given the “highly adult violent nature and sexually explicit language used in the episodes”, the BBC was guilty of a “serious lapse”.

Ofcom was “alarmed” that the BBC did not consider any risk assessment on the emotional impact of the child's involvement and compelled the broadcaster to attend a meeting with the regulator.

The watchdog has also launched an investigation into I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! after the ITV1 show involved the young daughter of EastEnders star Charlie Brooks in a stunt.

The actress was left heartbroken when she and her seven-year-old daughter missed out on seeing each other in a trial.

Brooks, 31, who plays Janine in the BBC1 soap had to choose from a selection of doors that had treats behind them.

The actress did not know that Kiki, who had not seen her mother for 18 days, was behind one of the doors in the challenge and missed out on the reunion after picking the wrong door.

Brooks later criticised the stunt and said it had been "heartbreaking". "I signed up for this show, but Kiki didn't,” Brooks said. “I didn't want her to be so upset. I had no idea this was happening.”

Ofcom rules state that children must “not be caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in programmes.”

Ofcom is also investigating an episode of the CBBC show Dick and Dom's Hoopla!, in which an eating competition resulted in a girl retching into a bucket after drinking a mix of ingredients including mayonnaise and apple sauce.

The regulator said: “We consider the protection of children to be among the most significant of all our statutory duties” and warned broadcasters of the “paramount importance” of following its rules.”

In the Line of Duty case, the boy’s mother had approved his participation but Ofcom said this was insufficient. Broadcasters must consider the “physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under eighteen who are involved in programmes. This is irrespective of any consent given by the participant or by a parent or guardian.”

Ofcom can issue fines and withdraw a broadcaster’s licence if its code is consistently breached. The watchdog can demand unedited footage from broadcasters as part of its investigations.

The Ofcom warning comes amid the BBC’s own attempts to discover the extent of sexual abuse at TV Centre and other locations by Jimmy Savile.

Dame Janet Smith’s independent inquiry will consider whether the culture and practices within the BBC enabled the sexual abuse of children to continue unchecked. Her report will ask whether the BBC’s current child protection and whistle blowing policies are fit for purpose.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine