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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 13:37 GMT
Violent images inquiry to launch
Still from the film Halloween: Resurrection
Inquiry reflects recurrent concerns over on-screen violence
The link between street crime and violent films, TV shows, video games and song lyrics is to be examined by a government advisor in the wake of heightened fears that violent imagery has contributed to rising gun crime.

Censorship of the UK entertainment industry will be reviewed by the Youth Justice Board, who will make recommendations for changes to rules, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

A spokeswoman for the Youth Justice Board told BBC News Online their research had shown that cultural factors did influence crime, and that they were planning to look more closely at the subject.

So Solid Crew
Garage bands like So Solid Crew have attracted criticism
The board's chairman, Lord Warner, criticised some computer games, soap operas and rap artists for coming close to "inciting violence or dangerous sexual behaviour" in an interview with the newspaper.

"There's a case for reviewing whether we should regulate more rigorously," he said.

But the entertainment industry has insisted current rules are adequate, and said Lord Warner or the government are not in a position to change them.

The issue has been hotly-debated since ministers condemned "idiot" rappers who sing about gun culture after two teenagers were shot dead at a New Year party in Birmingham.

"It's very hard to escape the concern that violent videos, violent films, violent music, violent games do influence some of the more impressionable minds," Lord Warner told the Telegraph.

"There's certainly a coarsening of attitudes. We are at risk of a gradual acceptance of a more violent culture in which we take it as given that a proportion of people will behave like that."

The government does not tell us what our guidelines should be, our guidelines are publicly-researched guidelines

British Board of Film Classification
The Youth Justice Board's members are appointed by the home secretary and advise ministers on youth offending.

According to the Telegraph, the board plans to set up a working group involving representatives of the film, music and television industries to consider changes.

Entertainment industry groups have said they would take part in the consultation, but that they are opposed to change.

A spokeswoman for the British Board of Film Classification, which classifies films and some video games, said: "The government does not tell us what our guidelines should be, our guidelines are publicly-researched guidelines.

"At no time since 1912 [when the BBFC was formed] has any suggestion be made that there should be statutory guidelines for film."

We are very much against censorship

British Phonographic Industry
The Independent Television Commission, the TV watchdog, also said its guidelines were drawn up in line with what the public found acceptable, not dictated by the government.

"There are very strict rules regarding violence on television, and we do a lot of research into the subject to make sure our rules are in line with viewers' expectations and changing trends," a spokeswoman said.

Peter Jamieson, the chairman of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which represents record labels in the UK, has already written to home secretary David Blunkett requesting a meeting to discuss the furore over artists like So Solid Crew.

Mr Jamieson told Mr Blunkett that violent lyrics were a symptom not a cause of a violent atmosphere, pointing out that the BPI's voluntary stickering scheme warns CD purchasers of extreme content.

"We are very much against censorship," a BPI spokeswoman said. "Arguably, visual images are a stronger influence than lyrics."

The Youth Justice Board's recent report on street crime said a "fashion" for carrying knives and other weapons was partly down to figures in youth culture who glamorised violence.


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13 Jan 03 | Politics
09 May 02 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Entertainment
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