by Ben MacDonald
As Vue Cinemas confirm that they will not show UK gang flick Blue Story in any of their branches, levels of knife crime continue to rise south of the border.
The company’s statement came after an incident in their Birmingham outlet, with police officers harmed helping 100 people clear the city’s Star City complex following a brawl. Photos of a group of youths have also spread on social media, with one member holding onto a machete.
A tale of two best friends who become gang rivals, Blue Story’s writer and director, Andrew Onwubolu, has previously stated that his movie should not hold any violent connotations. Onwubolu, whose stage name is Rapman, told reporters:
“Blue Story is a film about love not violence.
“I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself.
“I pray that we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect.”
News of the incident in England’s Second City comes as the Office for National Statistics reported
a rise in offences involving a knife or sharp instrument over the last 12 months of 2,918 (a 7% rise) to 44,076. This was the highest number of offences recorded since the year ending March 2011.
Professor Ross Deuchar, a criminologist who has worked on gang and street culture, has highlighted the need for tackling knife crime. He says:
“The recent gang-related violence in a cinema complex in Birmingham during the screening of ‘Blue Story’ has illustrated once again the severity of the current knife crime epidemic in some parts of England.
“With the levels of gang violence and knife crime having significantly reduced in Scotland over the last 10 years, the incidents in Birmingham reinforce for us again the importance of police agencies south of the Border adopting a public health approach to violence which has led to such strong levels of success in curbing gang related issues in Glasgow and its surrounding areas.
“Only through adopting a focus on prevention by addressing the root causes of violence through multi-agency partnership working can we reduce the menace of gang violence that unfortunately still plagues cities like London and Birmingham.”
Despite Vue stopping all performances, Blue Story became the third biggest film in the UK box office over the last seven days, making £1.3 million in its opening weekend.