Byron Report confirms the problem of video nasties but fails to call for tough new action – by Julian Brazier MP

brazier_julian_canterbury1.jpgThe long awaited report by Tanya Byron into the effect of video games and the internet on children has been published today – but does it match expectations?

There are some good ideas in the review (which you can find here, not least plans to help parents become more aware of the controls available to them both on the internet and with video games.

What is sad, however, is the report’s comfortable relationship with the BBFC. She says,

A vocal minority feel the classifications should be stricter and usefully seek to keep the discussion open about content in some games. However, there is a general consensus that the age ratings broadly reflect UK consumers’ expectations, with few complaints made about ratings under either system.

A poll conducted by ComRes last month revealed the exact opposite of this statement – and can be found here (

The headline figure is that 76% of people agreed that the amount of violence permitted in films, games and on television should be more tightly regulated. Rather than tighten up the rules, at their last guideline change the BBFC allowed knife-fights to be shown to teenagers and imitable suicide techniques to children as young as twelve.

The other thing she misses is that the real problem with the BBFC is the appeals process. When the BBFC banned the game Manhunt 2 last year, their Chief Executive said, “There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game.” (

Trouble started with the appeals board: they released the game. The BBFC appealed to the High Court, which backed the ban, ordering the appeals board to look at the matter again. They did so, twisting every rule to allow the game to be released.

Until we deal with these two problems – the BBFC ignoring public feeling and the appeals board undermining what few stands the BBFC take – we will never be able to control the violence which is being aimed at our children.

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