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Line of Duty and Good Cop breach Ofcom child protection rules

Line of Duty

Story by Jack Foley

TWO critically-acclaimed BBC police dramas have been found to be in breach of rules regarding the protection of children, according to Ofcom.

Line Of Duty (pictured) and Good Cop both fell foul of guidelines, albeit for different reasons.

In Line Of Duty‘s case, Ofcom felt that more steps should have been taken to protect a 13-year-old child actor from sexually explicit language and violence.

Young Gregory Piper, who was fresh out of drama school, appeared in scenes in which his character was head-butted and attempted to sever a policeman’s finger with pair of bolt-cutters.

He was also in a scene where sexually-explicit language was directed at him.

Following complaints, Ofcom investigated to see whether the programme had complied with rules of care regarding the physical and emotional welfare of the child and whether unnecessary distress was caused by his involvement in the programme.

The BBC responded to the invesigation by insisting that several steps had been taken before, during and after production to protect the child from distress, including being in constant dialogue with the child’s parents.

Furthermore, a children’s entertainment licence had been obtained, his mother acted as a chaperone and was on set throughout and several months after it finished she wrote an account highlighting her son’s very positive experience.

But Ofcom found the child had been present during the shooting of a scene in which his character was exposed to sexually explicit language, broadcast on July 24, involving an exchange with a police character played by This Is England star Vicky McClure.

The BBC did issue a statement saying: “It would have been preferable for the contributions from (the child actor) and the character DC Fleming to have been filmed separately to avoid his exposure to the language that was used.”

Ofcom went further, concluding that the broadcaster should have sought an expert opinion from a child counsellor or psychologist on whether it was appropriate for the child actor to participate in scenes in which he tried to use bolt-cutters on one of DS Steve Arnott’s fingers.

And it firmly believed the executive producer should have removed the child actor from the set whenever potentially distressing language was being used.

As for Good Cop, Ofcom determined that the BBC was in breach of excessive violence shown in a trailer that was aired on BBC 1 HD ahead of the 9pm watershed.

The trailer, which aired during the Olympic Games at about 6.40pm, showed a police officer being violently assaulted by a group of men and having a television dropped on him.

An estimated 29,000 people saw the eight-minute promotion, prompting Ofcom to conclude that it was in breach of Rule 1.3, which requires that children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

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