Censor criticises plan to ban violent videos: Study shows young criminals would rather watch soap operas than 'nasties'. Jason Bennetto reports
Monday 11 April 1994
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
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...