MPs call for new curbs on 'nasty videos'

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The Independent Online
VIOLENT VIDEOS already on release should be re-examined and in some cases banned if they cause great public concern, an all-party Commons select committee recommended yesterday.

The video, Child's Play 3, which was wrongly linked to the murder of two-year-old Jamie Bulger, is one of the 25,000 titles that could be reassessed, the Home Affairs Committee said.

The MPs, in a report entitled Video Violence and Young Offenders, called for further measures to curb the availability of 'video nasties' after concluding that horror and brutality on the screen could corrupt some youngsters and lead to crime.

They urged the Government to give the public a say in the reclassification of existing videos that cause offence. But they concluded that there was no justification for banning the sale of any video because a child might accidentally watch it.

The report follows the Government's proposals to introduce laws to tighten up the classification of videos and impose stronger penalties against retailers who supply outlawed films to youngsters. The new legislation will be debated in the Commons next week.

The report was ordered, amid clamour from backbench MPs, after it was alleged that videos caused young people to commit crime and violence.

Yesterday's study recommended a six-month 'transitional period' in which censors could collect complaints from the public about videos already on release. 'Those which attracted a significant number of complaints could then be re-assessed by the British Board of Film Classification and, if necessary, reclassified,' the report said. Only a 'limited number' are expected to be re-examined if the proposal becomes law.

Sir Ivan Lawrence, chairman of the committee, said: 'We thought the Government was being too timid in doing anything about the video nasties already on the market. We said there was no reason why the relatively small number of nasty videos could not be reassessed.'

The MPs emphasised that none of the witnesses in their inquiry were able to provide an example of a person who had committed a crime as a direct result of watching a video and that academic research on the subject was inconclusive.

But they said: 'We do not believe that, because video violence is one among many causes of violent crime, it should be ignored. We believe that there is some evidence to support the common-sense view that videos do have some corrupting influence upon the young, which may lead some vulnerable children into crime, and we support steps taken to deal with this issue.'

The lack of information about the subject was criticised and the committee called on the Home Office to commission further research into the links between videos and crime.

They also asked the Government to consider giving all adults who buy or rent a video a warning notice about the dangers of allowing youngsters to watch films containing violence and horror.

A proposal to introduce identity cards for young people wanting to buy or hire videos was described as having a 'positive effect', but no recommendation was made.

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