Gordon Brown last night moved to tackle growing public fears over knife crime by ordering police to
prosecute, rather than caution, anyone caught carrying knives. Backing zero-tolerance policing in a dozen knife-crime "hot spots" across the country, the prime minister said more knife carriers should be prosecuted in an effort to
rebuild public confidence and reclaim the streets from violent gangs.
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, will unveil the government's Violent Crime Action Plan next month, a major policy initiative to curb violent crime, which is expected to include recommendations to increase the number of searches conducted by
police and an increased reliance on evidence from CCTV cameras.
Extending the scope of his attack on knife culture, Brown said that the makers and sellers of violent video and computer games must shoulder some responsibility: No one wants censorship or an interfering state... BUT ... the industry has
a responsibility to society and needs to exercise that.
Following yesterday's press reports, in which Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted talking about
knife crime and associating it with videogames, the government has moved to dispel concerns that any new crackdown is imminent.
A Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) spokesperson has told GamesIndustry.biz that the report didn't highlight any change in policy, nor did it add anything to the debate.
The Prime Minister has previously expressed concern about the content of computer games, and their effect on young people, which is why he commissioned the Byron Report. We're aware that the games industry is working with the Byron Report to
address those concerns."
Paul Jackson, director general of publisher association ELSPA, added: We have been further reassured that there will be no changes to government policy in this area until Dr Byron publishes her findings at the end of March."
A clear link exists between bloodthirsty films and video games and teenage knife crime, claimed
Plymouth MP Gary Streeter.
He argued for an urgent review examining how to censor what youngsters watched at the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. He highlighted fears of a knife arms race amid concerns that carrying the deadly weapons was becoming normal.
The committee says evidence to its inquiry also supported its view that violent DVDs and video games have a negative influence on those who watch and play them, contributing around 10% of any person's predisposition to be violent.
Streeter said: That's something we have to have a long look at. Are we allowing our young people to be brutalised by some of this dreadful violence we are allowing them to watch?
As part of the select committee inquiry, he was shown a number of video games, but he said he had to stop watching them as they were so sickening.
On the connection with knife crime, he said: There's a clear link for some young people. There's no doubt that for certain young people violent video games and films is a very serious negative influence.