In Battle Against Knife Violence, British PM Takes a Stab at Video Games

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is concerned about the level of knife violence in some of England’s most crime-ridden cities.

And he’s assigning some of the blame to video games.

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, the PM related a wave of knife assaults with violent video games. A screenshot from Manhunt is prominently featured in the report.

In announcing a zero tolerance policy, Brown said that police would no longer issue warnings to those found carrying knives in a dozen crime “hot spots.” He also said he is considering a ban on some types of edged weapons. Brown told The Sun:

Society cannot cope with people carrying guns and knives and threatening to use them. There are boundaries you cannot cross — and one is this country’s zero tolerance on knives.

It is neither cool, nor does it make you safer, to carry a knife. We must ease people’s fears. They deserve freedom from fear about their safety on the streets.

Regarding games, the PM said:

I am very worried about video and computer games. No one wants censorship or an interfering State. But the industry has some responsibility to society and needs to exercise that.

One of the knife hot spots cited by Brown is the city of Manchester. GamePolitics readers will no doubt recall the furor raised in 2007 by the inclusion of Manchester Cathedral as a level in PS3 shooter Resistance: Fall of Man.

There’s more about the knife issue on 10 Downing Street, the PM’s official website.

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  1. 0
    Anonymous says:

    Here in the states we have movie stars and politicians that oppose gun ownership while standing among their armed bodyguards. Can you say lying hypocrites?
    If you can vote such people out, now is the time. It is easy enough to say other people should trust in the government, police, etc. They may even do a good job, maybe, of punishing the crook after the fact. Will that make you rest easier in your grave?

  2. 0
    Erik ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “The main problem in the UK is that if, for example, some kids are vandalising your property, such as your garden fence, and you go out and smack them upside the head, it’s actually you that could get into trouble for it.”

    See, I think that a person should get a reward for smacking thugs like that.

  3. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Well, there is the famous story of the Farmer who shot a burglar and got jailed for it, but that one, in particular, has a LOT more content than most people realise, the Shooter was an extremely long way from an angel himself.

    The main problem in the UK is that if, for example, some kids are vandalising your property, such as your garden fence, and you go out and smack them upside the head, it’s actually you that could get into trouble for it.

    The real irony is that if, instead, you phone the Police and tell them that your house is being vandalised, the chances are the Police will tell you that there is ‘nothing they can do’, unless, of course, you are a politician or footballer.

  4. 0
    Dragon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If you do ban Kivies and guns then people will started carrying rocks and throw at eachother and use rocks for protective, Whata ya gotta do then? Ban rocks too,

  5. 0
    Erik ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Defending yourself with lethal force can get you in trouble. “

    ….Holy shit thats fucked up. So Britain both dissuades its citizens from having the means to defend themselves and just flat outright dissuades them from defending themselves. Hell you might as well just fedex your wallet to the nearest criminal.

  6. 0
    odc04r ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Prosecuting people found with kinves ont he street = a good thing, scapegoating games = dumb.

    More kids have knives because UK society is becoming more violent, games are not the cause. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

  7. 0
    Paul Kerton ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is the Email I have sent to the Prime Minister’s Office

    Prime Minister,
    I was very concerned when reading the comments made by yourself regarding violence in video games.

    Whilst I understand that your concerns about violence and knife crime as a whole, but I believe it was irresponsible of you, as leader of this country, to single out an the industry, in particular one that contributed over £1billion to the UK economy alone. These comments seem very rash in the light of the Byron Review that you have set up, which has yet to report back to you.

    Unlike in the United States of America, where First Amendment rights allow children of any age to purchase video games content, the UK has a strong and robust classification system, ran by the BBFC and PEGI that all games themed for adult use are classed by.

    Whilst I agree games, in particular, the Manhunt series, do occasionally take the violence too far, many of these games are classified for adult sale and use only. I believe that the responsibility ultimately relies on the parent. Parents , and from your statement, you yourself, are obviously ill educated on the classification system and understanding that video games are now a main stream entertainment, that are not just meant for children. A recent study showed that the average age of a video games player in the United Kingdom is now 28.
    I work in the primary schools system and hear children as young as 11 talking about playing Grand Theft Auto. This however, is not the fault of the manufacturers, who put their games through PEGI and BBFC ratings checks. This particular game coming out as an 18, which is quite clearly marked on both the front and the back of the box.

    Whilst I applaud your statement on the industry having a “responsibility to society”, I also believe that first and foremost, parents have a responsibilty to their children, and the Government has a responsibility to help educate those parents also on the classification system and the reasons they are there.

    Video game console manufacturers include parental controls in all of the major hardware available today. Playstation 3, XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii and Windows Vista all have controls which allow parents to limit the content that their children can view. The manufacturers of this hardware have taken this message of responsibility on, and anything that is published for these platforms has to have parental control as standard now.

    Unfortunately, your statement seems to come across rather rash, and without an understanding of the current situation within video gaming and does not reflect the efforts that have already been made in the industry to allow parents ultimate control over what their children consume. If the parents are not willing or do not understand how to use this, then that is an issue that has to be solved, not necessarily the content of mature, adult themed video games.


  8. 0
    mogbert ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    OK, I knew they had a ban on guns, but knifes as well.
    Let’s look at it this way, stabbing someone is against the law. Carrying a knife is against the law. If you were going to break the law by stabbing someone, you probably don’t care that it is against the law to carry the knife as well.

    See, I’m contrasting this with Texas. In Britain, they figure that it is safer if no one has any weapons, that way no one can do any violence. But if someone has a knife, they can be pretty confident that the other person is unarmed. In Texas, EVERYONE has a weapon. You don’t pull a knife on someone, because they will likely pull a gun on you. You don’t pull a gun on someone, because they could also pull a gun on you. Someone who has a 50/50 chance of getting shot doesn’t last long.

    I hear that in England in general, steel toe boots are very popular in gangs and a popular form on homicide is curbstomping (long before such was ever possible in video games).

    Another thing to keep in mind, think back to the time of Jack the Ripper. I heard one person (not an expert) ask “Why didn’t any of his victems shoot him?” If a man pulls a knife on a woman, considering that [i]on average[/i] women aren’t as muscular as men, the man has an advantage. Similarly, unarmed, the man has an advantage. However, a man with a gun vs a woman with a gun is a lot more equal.

    In short, limiting weapons won’t stop violence. And the idea that knives in video games are even contributing to this problem is flawed on a basic level. Mostly because knives are considered the weakest weapon in a game. Usually even a pipe or crowbar is a step up (and I’d take a crowbar over a knife just about any day). When a weapon can be easily constructed, and easily hidden, it will be hard to limit.

    This is just another example of refusing to see the real problem and looking for an easy target so that they can claim to be doing something. Why do you have gangs? Why are people attacking other people?

    Here is a clue, being in a gang usually takes time. People have to gather together physically. If they are raiding Molten Core, they probably don’t have time to be in a gang. You want the crime rate to go down, how about more video games? Then maybe arguments could be settled like real men, in UT3 deathmatch.

  9. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Father Time:

    Replace “knife” with “gun” or “taser” and you have an argument that already stands. Why should one weapon be illegal but another, more easily concealed weapon be perfectly OK in areas that have a very high rate of crime related to that weapon?

  10. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    First no-gun/knife zones are a stupid insane idea and I’ll explain why.

    First of all there is the sense of presumption of guilt. If you are caught with a knife in a no-knife zone than it is presumed that you will use said knife for an illegal activity and are thus arrested, even though there are hundreds of legal uses for a knife.

    Second if murderers don’t care that they’re breaking the law when they murder people they certainly aren’t going to care that they are breaking a much more minor law than murder. Meanwhile their law-abiding citizens won’t be carrying knives or guns and are thus easy prey. If you are commiting crimes in a no-knife zone than you can be almost certain that your victims won’t have knives to protect themselves.

  11. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Replace the word knife with the word gun and you have the arguments and proposed laws from the anti-gun crowd. Not noly that but they also argue that you can’t kill as much people with a knife etc. and look what we have here. A large spike in knife related crimes, a complete abscence of what was promised by gun control advocates and a cry to ban knifes (featuring the same stupid ‘zero tolerance’ crap we’ve had before). The irony ALONE is beyond priceless even if you don’t add in video games.

  12. 0
    Po-something says:

    wow, this is sad, I mean I am british, I have a pushblade on my person in case of emergency, I don’t have it because videogames told me to carry one, I have it because last time I went out without it I had my face and hands cut open, I prefer to fight fist style, but having something to protect yourself with in england is the most important thing on our chav filled streets, what does that scottish jackhole think he is gonna do about it?

  13. 0
    JustChris says:

    All these fear tactics against video games suggest that criminals need some kind of an inspiration to commit their crimes. But it isn’t so. Criminals already have their own sinister minds that let them know that knives are good close-range weapons and foresee the crime in their mind.

    Also, if everyone carried a form of lethal defense, I think we will have a “mutually assured destruction” feeling in our hands, which would make people think twice about attacking someone.

  14. 0
    Archgabe ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Remember kids: If you stop law abiding citizens from carrying weapons, then the only people left to carry weapons are the criminals and the police. Who will protect you from both?

  15. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    What? Banning people from carrying knives in public is bad because people are allowed to drink alcohol? Oh, also, he’s not trying to ban games.

  16. 0
    NovaBlack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    yeah just forget the fact there are more alcohol/and or smoking related deaths than knife deaths each year..

    i mean its ok for them to be legal.. because…i mean… they taste… nice?

    instead focus on knife deaths, and ban videogames. yeah then all the knife deaths will stop , and about 50 ppl a year wont die.

    pff what do you mean videogames dont cause violence…. what.?… you think smoking and alcohol kill way more people each year s are a way better priority? pff dont be crazy man!

  17. 0
    Loki says:

    Wow that’s actually a rather restrained comment. Yes he is kind of having a go at games a little bit but at the same time he’s saying that he doesn’t want to interfere or advocate censorship. Shame I still distrust labour and I’m voiting the conservatives in next general election.

  18. 0
    shady8x says:

    BY the way carrying a weapon with you does make you safer period.

    Case and point:
    My friends and I are going home from a party, a couple of masked men come up to us and threaten us with knives(they wanted our money)…

    My friend takes out a gun(has legal permit for one) and tells them to drop their weapons. One runs for us anyway and gets shot in the leg and the other complies…

    I call the cops and the robbers get arrested… We find out later that the robbers are a crackheads which where wanted for robbing AND STABBING people they robbed before leaving… Blood from other victims (two of which died) where found on their knives…

    >>>Banning weapons only makes sure that when criminals come after you, you die since you can’t defend yourselves… its creating a generation of sheep led to the slaughter…

  19. 0
    chadachada(123) ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @People suggesting just to give up your wallet

    Suggesting that is just a matter of opinion. Years ago, the police told women to just let men rape them if they were sexually assualted, better to lose your viginity than your life, that kind of thing. Now they say it’s better to try your hardest to fight or get away. Likewise, should you fight back/ try to run away, or simply give up your wallet and STILL possibly be attacked? I’ll take door number one, personally, but I can see how people would want to take option two. It’s personal preference really.

    I’m still going to carry a knife (and when old enough, a handgun) around, because I don’t trust humans, plain and simple. If a criminal doesn’t know if I’m armed or not, they are going to be less likely to attack me. But if they do attack me because they themselves ARE armed, I’ll have some way to protect myself.

    As far as this story goes concerning video games, I don’t think overseas game developers really have any responsibility to adhere to British customs and such.

  20. 0
    shady8x says:

    So noone wants an interfering State so the state will ban all sharp objects?????

    Hmm wouldn’t want to run a restaurant in Britain… or a store with kitchen supplies…

    Oh and bullshit on “No one wants censorship or an interfering State” you already banned manhunt not because it didn’t pass your censorship boards but because you wanted to take a stand at a random place…

    So go enjoy a good family movie like Jack Ketchum’s Girl Next Door 2007 (I almost threw up when I saw it…) but shut up about not wanting to censor games because you do want to…

    Oh and why is manhunt to responsible for knife violence in Briton WHEN IT IS BANNED IN BRITAIN?????????? Perhaps the knife crime wave would stop if you actually released it????

  21. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Not that I disagree with reducing knife crime but I wish he’d let us vote him in before leaping into all his schemes, it’s almost as though he’s trying to get as much of his foot in the door as possible before bothering with getting elected.

  22. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    In followup because I just realised I missed something:

    My fighting back is supposed to scare the attacker and dissuade him from continuing. The problem is that in order for this to work, he has to expect me to be unarmed. If people carry weapons for self defence as a matter of routine, he’ll expect me to be carrying a weapon of my own. I lose my element of surprise, he keeps his, and the encounter remains entirely on his own terms. Thus I lose.

  23. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    If someone threatens me with a knife then I’m probably going to assume he’s not afraid to use it. If I fight back with a weapon of my own then, I’m pretty damn certain he’s going to use it.

    So I give him my wallet and possibly get attacked, or go on the offensive and definitely get attacked.

  24. 0
    jerros says:

    @Matthiew & Godmil.

    If attacked by a person with a knife or gun and asked to turn over your wallet it’s always wiser to do as the person says. However criminals aren’t exactly known for being fine upstanding people who will leave you alone if you give them what they want. If a criminal simply doesn’t want your money but instead your body, or if they simply want to do harm to you then at some point you will most likely have to fight back. And the question is will you have an easier time fighting back unarmed, or will it be easier to fight back with a knife, gun or pepper spray/mace.

  25. 0
    jerros says:

    @Matthiew & Godmil.

    If attacked by a person with a knife or gun and asked to turn over your wallet it’s always wiser to do as the person says. However criminals aren’t exactly known for being fine upstanding people who will leave you alone if you give them what they want. If a criminal simply doesn’t want your money but instead your body, or if they simply want to do harm to you then at some point you will most likely have to fight back. And the

  26. 0
    Sam ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yet another reason not to vote sodding Labour. It’s honestly horrifying that Brown can even think of blaming video games when there are so many other problems with Britain right now far more relevant to youth and general violence concerns. My taxes right now are paying for extremist preachers who openly encourage violence against Britain and its residents and culture to live a life of benefits-paid luxury right here with us, and he’s worried about the effect of ~video games~?

    Get a clue, Brown.

  27. 0
    Elomin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To JMack

    I think the reason GP mentioned the cathedral is because ex-PM Tony Blair got involved with that ‘debarcle’ when it was nothing to do with him.

  28. 0
    Godmil says:

    I’m not convinced when people say they’re safer with a knife. If someone pulled a knife/gun on you I think the ‘safest’ option would be to slowly hand over your wallet, or maybe running away as quickly as you can. Pulling out your own knife and engaging in a fight doesn’t sound safe at all, unless you’re counting on the attacker getting scared – but I’m sure that only happens in Crocodile Dundee.

    And once again Video games are a target from politians. I heard someone say recently that the reason politicians (particularly ones going for elections) will pick on the video game industry and not the Film industry, is because having Film stars on your side is great for publicity, while there is nobody in the games industry with that kind of star appeal.

  29. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The message here is “kids, don’t carry knives.” That’s it. Nobody is banning the existence of them or saying you’ll have to use a file if you want to cut down a tree in future. The policy is that being caught carrying a knife in public in areas prone to knife violence is going to get you in trouble, so don’t do it.

    Think of it as the open beer argument. You can be done in numerous places for driving with an open container of alcohol, right? It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been drinking it or are planning to drink it or even if you emptied it out earlier and filled it up with Ribena. Carrying an open bottle of beer in your car is an offence, and so is carrying a bladed weapon on your person.

    It’s worth noting that the UK doesn’t have the same “self-defence” rules that the US does. Defending yourself with lethal force can get you in trouble. The thinking goes that carrying a weapon for self defence means you are specifically carrying it with the intention of using it in an emergency, thus have in part intent to use. Also if world+dog are armed then criminals need to be even better armed…

  30. 0
    jerros says:

    Yea lets totally ban a tool which we’ve used for the last 2 1/2 billion years because someone could use it to stab someone else. Lets ignore the fact that a knife is practically needed in survival situations, is useful to fend off attackers be they human or beast, and have a million & one uses which do not involve stabbing someone else. All because you want to feel safe.

    News flash, knives are a close range weapon. If you see someone with a knife run away and there won’t be any stabby stabby going on. Next up on the “dangerous tool” list Phillips Head Screwdrivers because they are sort of like ice picks.

  31. 0
    Skyler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I carry a knife as well. It’s an incredibly useful tool that I would be lost without. Do I do it to look cool? Well, I’d have to be flaunting it around first, so to answer the PM’s question, that a no.

  32. 0
    BlackIce, Dragunov Marksman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I always wonder if there is some deep underlying fear that Labour has of weapons.. It’s not nearly as bad as they say it is.

  33. 0
    Scolar Visari says:

    Now not that I would kill someone but even if you banned all weapons in a country any crafty individual could put together a makeshift weapon. Even if a person couldn’t find a brick or something they always have fists. Also carrying a knife can make you safer as proven by an uncle of mine. My uncle Val was attacked and he pulled a small knife out of his boot giving him the advantage and the win in that fight.

  34. 0
    JQuilty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Brokenscope: He’s blaming games for people carrying concealed weapons, which is illegal in the UK, knife, gun, or otherwise. And he says, and I quote “It is neither cool, nor does it make you safer, to carry a knife.”, which makes me think he believes people are doing it to be cool.

    In the US, you can get a concealed weapon permit in every state other than Illinois, Wisconsin, and DC. So if he leaves DC, those evil badasses carrying weapons might be around.

  35. 0
    Ghost Coins ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Yes, we have to ban boards with nails in them. Otherwise we will simply build bigger boards with bigger nails in them. Eventually we will create a board so big with a nail so large that it will destroy the world…so a ban is completely justified.


    I am with you on this. The brightest minds the post-industrial countries can bring to bear, and this is the rubbish we get from them? Manhunt is now responsible for hooligans knifing each other? I thought Manchester United held that title…they’re going to be pissed that they got knocked out of first place.

    next on the banning lists:

    Fists…because people hit other people with them, we must ban fists. Anyone caught walking around with a fist will be given a stern warning and the fist will be confiscated…

  36. 0
    Mike Skinner says:

    As a UK and London resident I don’t really find any cause for alarm in this article. Brown has made a point on knife crime which is on the rise over here. You’d be hard pressed to find a need to carry the sort of knives that are being banned on a daily basis anyway and the games issue seems to be an afterthought.

    We lost Manhunt 2, yes – which has made it all the more salacious (a shame as if the original is anything to go by it’s probably a bit pants), but we have Farenheit with the boning left in and not a lot of media coverage.

    You do find the occasional “copies of the popular game GTA were found in the suspect’s flat” in a news article but so far we’re Jack Thompson wannabe-free and people seem to understand it’s difficult to train yourself to murder a room full of people and any policemen who try to stop you by pressing ‘X’ over and over and occassionally manipulating an analogue stick; something we can no longer say for the US.

  37. 0
    koku ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    and why are video games even mentioned in this article, video games have NOTHING TO DO WITH VIOLENCE. over a million copies of gta were sold, and there wern’t over a million murders. the video game argument is about as revelant as the fact that the guy who built a nuclear reactor in his basement was a gamer. IT DOESN’T FREAKING MATTER THAT THERE ANE ANY CONNECTIONS TO GAMES IN THIS ARTICLE!!!

  38. 0
    koku ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    carrying a knife doesnt make you safer? come on. if somweone is threating to use a knife or gun on me, i would do everything in my power to stop them. if that means knifing them, id do that. carrying a weaponfor self defene makes you safer, wether iits a knife or a tazer.

  39. 0
    Alfie St Taurie says:

    (sigh) Beam me up Scottie…How many more ‘crackdowns’ on violent crime is this pansy government going to introduce before there is a downward trend of violence in the UK? Since the last ‘get tough’ with violent gang culture in London, street crime and violence has actually increased according to government statistics. I’m sure the gangs of tooled up hoodies, gangstas and jihadi wannabees are quaking in their boots at the prospect of Politically Correct Gordon Brown and his dimwit government getting tough AGAIN!!! AS for violent computer games I’m off to play DOOM3.

  40. 0
    WarOtter ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I do carry a knife around with me where ever I go, because it is an eminently useful tool. I use it all the time , especially at work, and the modicum of personal protection it does afford is an added benefit.


    I own a gun(Smith&Wesson M&P 40), but don’t carry it with me everywhere, just when I go to Detroit. If only that was a joke.

  41. 0
    JMack says:

    “One of the knife hot spots cited by Brown is the city of Manchester. GamePolitics readers will no doubt recall the furor raised in 2007 by the inclusion of Manchester Cathedral as a level in PS3 shooter Resistance: Fall of Man.”

    Sorry GP, I don’t really understand why you’ve mentioned this. It seems totally irrelevant to what is being discussed, aside from a loose link to video games in general. It was the church that started off the whole Manchester Cathedral thing, not the government, and though the government may have mentioned it later I just can’t understand why you’ve brought this up.

  42. 0
    JQuilty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I hope Clown never leaves DC when he goes to the US. You know, since people in 48 out of 50 states (Maryland and Virginia included) must think it makes you a badass if you carry a gun.

  43. 0
    Shoehorn O'Plenty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “I am very worried about video and computer games. No one wants censorship or an interfering State. But the [video game] industry has some responsibility to society and needs to exercise that.”

    Let’s say for fun that the industry panders to this idiocy and stops making violent games completely. No more games where you shoot, stab or otherwise kill people. Will violent crime disappear all of a sudden? Will the drug gangs (whose members perpetrate a majority of these violent attacks) disband and become upstanding members of society? Will those who steal and mug people at knifepoint due to poverty and desperation cease doing it (it doesn’t seem to matter that they wouldn’t be able to afford video games…)? Will the drunks who routinely beat the tar out of each other in pubs suddenly stop?

    Such naivety and scapegoating is genuinely scary to see in the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.

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