British film censor to tighten policy on sexual and sadistic violence in response to recent report in which public expresses concern.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is to adjust its policy on sexual and sadistic violence in films and videos in response to a recent report.

Research carried out this year on behalf of the BBFC has shown that members of the film viewing public find “unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence”, in particular depictions of rape and sexual assault which, in their view, have the potential to cause harm.

The BBFC is most concerned about depictions which make sexual or sadistic violence look appealing, reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy rape and invite viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.

David Cooke, director of the BBFC said: “There is no ‘one size fits all’ rule for any theme under the BBFC classification guidelines, as long as what is depicted is within the law and does not pose a harm risk. Once again the public have told us that context, tone and impact, and a work’s over all message, can aggravate a theme, or make it acceptable, even in cases of sexual and sadistic violence. The decision as to whether and how to intervene in scenes of sexual and sadistic violence is complex, but drawing out and applying these aggravating and mitigating factors is helpful in arriving at a decision which balances freedom of expression against public protection”.

The research project, carried out by Ipsos MORI, included fieldwork undertaken in May 2012 in London, Bristol and Dundee, with  35 participants watching a range of films and taking part in interviews. 21 participants were invited back for a follow up workshop.