Inmates to give their views on TV shows

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The Independent Online
PRISONERS ARE to be asked for their views on television programmes by the Broadcasting Standards Council, in a private session which could provide the first clear evidence of whether screen violence leads to violence on the streets, writes David Lister. In the first visit of its kind, Lady Howe, chairman of the council, will talk to inmates at Perth Prison in Scotland. She will be accompanied by Jocelyn Barrow, the deputy chairman and former BBC governor, and other council members.

They will ask inmates if they are offended by excessive sex and violence, and lapses in good taste on television. But while the council said yesterday that this would largely be an exercise to find out the views of prisoners as just one group in society, it became clear that the session would also be used to try to determine whether viewing habits did have any causal effect on crime.

When Colin Shaw, the council's chief executive, was asked whether this would be explored at the meeting, he said: 'One can infer things from their answers . . .'

In its annual report yesterday the Broadcasting Standards Council said that, in the year to last April, it had received 1,192 complaints, compared to 898 the previous year. Some 587 were about taste and decency lapses, 273 about sex and 230 about violence. The biggest increase was in complaints about violence, a jump to 230 from just 68 the year before.