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

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam