Censor criticises plan to ban violent videos: Study shows young criminals would rather watch soap operas than 'nasties'. Jason Bennetto reports

THE DIRECTOR of Britain's film censorship board yesterday attacked proposals to introduce a ban on 'disturbing' and 'ultra-violent' videos. His comments are likely to help defeat a parliamentary amendment, to be debated in the Commons tomorrow, calling for legislation to make it an offence to show certain videos to children.

A report to be published today will provide further ammunition to opponents of censorship when it is expected to reveal that young criminals do not watch more violent television or films than non-offenders, and are not obsessed with programmes that depict violence and horror.

The debate over the influence of screen images on criminal activity and violent behaviour has been heightened by an amendment by David Alton, a Liberal Democrat MP, to the Criminal Justice Bill, which proposes a new video classification, 'Unsuitable for Children'. It has the support of 220 MPs, including 80 Tories.

James Ferman, director of the British Board of Film Classification, said: 'I firmly believe Mr Alton's amendment is misconceived. It is unworkable and over-restrictive. By going too far, it risks discrediting the system and alienating the public.'

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Ferman, known for his conservative attitude towards screen sex and violence, added: 'We all agree that no video is worth the death of a child, but cause and effect have to be demonstrated. We must keep things in proportion.' He said under the Alton amendment, 'half the films made in the past quarter of a century' would be banned, including the Oscar winners Schindler's List and Dances With Wolves.

While conceding that the growing availability of violence on videos and television was a cause for concern where children were involved, he argued it was still primarily the role of parents to police viewing habits.

Using the example of the James Bulger murder, he said it showed that 'children are not born good; they have to be schooled in goodness' and that violent videos were merely being used as a 'scapegoat' for their actions.

He concluded: 'Seventy per cent of households in Britain have no dependent children. Are all those to be denied the right to enjoy legitimate adult entertainment in the privacy of their homes, merely because some parents shirk their parental duties?'

Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, has announced that he is to press the film censors to tighten curbs on children's access to violent video, but will oppose the Alton amendment. The BBFC and other broadcasting organisations sponsored today's report on the viewing habits of young offenders.

The Policy Studies Institute examined a group of 78 young offenders aged 12 to 18 and compared them to a sample of more than 500 schoolchildren of a similar age. The results are expected to show that, contrary to popular belief, the groups had similar viewing tastes, preferring soap operas, such as EastEnders, Home and Away, Brookside, and The Bill - which was the offenders' favourite - to video nasties. The most popular film for both sets was Terminator 2.

A standard for videos suitable for under fives -is to be launched today. The guide for parents has been devised by the Pre-School Playgroups Association, which has set up a special panel of experts to award certificates. The successful tapes will carry a sticker.

Leading article, page 15

Exorcist anniversary, page 21

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own