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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 15:36 GMT
Midlands: Copycat killers
Jonathan Ray
East Midlands Political Correspondent

Stefan Pakeerah
Stefan was repeatedly battered and stabbed by his older friend

Does the violence people see really lead to violent behaviour? Giselle Pakeerah, from Leicester, is certain that grisly images can provoke a brutal copycat response.

Her teenage son, Stefan, was murdered, and his 17-year-old killer, she believes, mimicked behaviour he had seen in a video game.

Desperate to tighten the regulations and protect children, she approached her local MP for help.

The MP, Keith Vaz, (Lab, Leicester East) will raise the issue in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons.

Blame game?

Industry bodies say it would be wrong to blame the game, which had an 18 certificate, or to seek any kind of ban.

The Director-General of the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association, Roger Bennett, rejects "any suggestion of an association between violent events and video games. Research supports this view."

He recently gave commitments to the Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt (Lab, Leicester West) that existing laws would be "rigorously enforced".

The industry is formulating "specific proposals to promote greater understanding, recognition and awareness of the games rating system, ensuring that young people are not exposed to inappropriate content."

Screenshot of Manhunt for PS2
The government is worried children are playing 18-rated games

Shadow Children's Minister Tim Loughton MP (Conservative, Worthing East & Shoreham) is concerned that enforcement is currently inadequate.

Mr Loughton said: "The number of prosecutions for violation of the existing rules is woefully low."

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell says: "Adults can make informed choices about the games to play.

"Children cannot and they deserve to be protected.

"Industry will consider how to make sure parents know what games their children should and should not play."

Games industry culpable?

Giselle Pakeerah is not convinced that the games industry will do enough.

Mrs Pakeerah said: "I cannot understand why even adults want to take part in interactive games where victims are stalked, murders are committed and extra points are awarded for sadistic killing.

"People argue about freedom of expression and censorship, but some of this material - sold perfectly legally - is just sick.

"What sort of society do we want?"

The computer games industry insists that its output is classified by the British Board of Film Classification.

It says video games should: "not be singled out, but judged equally with cinema and video".

Politics Show

Keith Vaz MP will discuss Monday's Commons business, and his debate on video games and violence, in the forthcoming edition of Politics Show.

That is the Politics Show Sunday, 16 January, at 12.30pm.

Join presenter Adrian Goldberg for The Politics Show on BBC One on Sundays at 12.30pm.

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