Noted film director and commentator, Lord Sir Richard Attenborough has opined that the depiction of violence in films is primarily responsible for the increase in knife crimes in Britain.
At 84, Lord Attenborough, an Oscar-winning director, claims viewers have become desensitised to real-life crime, and adds that cinema audiences used to be shocked at one time when they saw weapons on screen.
Expressing his abhorrence for the pornography of violence in modern films, The Telegraph quoted Lord Attenborough, as saying: "Thirty years ago if (actor) Gary Cooper pulled out a gun, the audience would give a sharp intake of breath."
"Now, the act of violence with a gun or a knife is the norm and we in the entertainment industry are partly responsible in making the presence of weapons such as knives almost an acceptable commonplace," he added.
His comments come as England is gripped by a wave of knife crime. In London alone, 17 teenagers have been stabbed to death since the New Year, while official figures disclosed earlier this month that a knife crime took place every four minutes in 2007.
Lord Attenborough began his career as an actor and came to prominence after starring as the vicious gang leader Pinkie in the 1947 film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock. He also played the serial killer John Christie in the 1971 film 10 Rillington Place.
Lord Attenborough, who won an Academy Award for his direction of Gandhi, is still president of BAFTA, Britain's film industry awards body, and chairman of the production company Goldcrest.
In new releases, more and more scenes which once would have been censored for their violent content have found their way onto cinema screens.
Instead of cutting scenes, censors now just provide detailed information about what is depicted in the film.
However, many commentators now believe the violence contained in computer games is more damaging to youths, as they spend more time playing them than watching films and because they are becoming increasingly realistic and detailed.
Earlier this year a report commissioned by Gordon Brown recommended that video games be issued with cinema-style ratings to stop young children buying them.