Who we are | British Board of Film Classification
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Who we are

The trusted go-to guide

At the BBFC, our focus is on helping children and families choose well by providing them with the guidance they need to help them choose what’s right for them and avoid what’s not.

With the huge growth in film, video and online content, and in how and where we can watch and use it, this is becoming more important than ever.

Through our experience, regular consultations and research, we are careful to reflect the views of people right across the country. We understand what matters to families and apply this knowledge in setting our standards.

We take the integrity and impartiality of our work very seriously and over the more than 100 years of our history, we have increasingly come to be recognised as the go-to guide that people can trust.

The structure of the BBFC and its management is designed to both reflect and reinforce this.

Our Council of Management

Our Council of Management is drawn from the cinema, television, video on demand (VoD) and media industries, and from the banking, accountancy and charity sectors.

The Council administers our financial affairs and is responsible for senior appointments at the BBFC, but plays no part in age rating decisions and policy making.

Its members are: Mel Alcock (Chair), Patrick Swaffer, David Austin, Sonita Alleyne OBE, Lesley Mackenzie, and Jonathan Teckman.

Mel Alcock is an experienced Chairman & Executive Director drawing upon experience garnered at Fremantle, Disney, Sky, i-Crossing, and Curzon. Ex NED of Arts Alliance Media Ltd and Ex Chairman of the Rio Dalston. Management experience ranges from large multi-territory, matrix-based companies, as well as second-stage, high-growth companies. Managed P&Ls from £20m to £250m.

Completed the 4 year re-build of Curzon. Managed the sale of digital agency i-Crossing to Goldman Sachs and the sale of Arts Alliance Media, a global SaaS company, to the Chinese entity Luxin Rio in Nov 2017. Currently Vice Chairman of Cement Fields, Mentor at Ascension Ventures.


 

Sonita Alleyne OBE is a board member of the London Legacy Development Corporation and Chairs their Regeneration and Communities Committee. She is on the Board of the Cultural Capital Fund; a board member of the Museum of London; and most recently appointed to the Mayor’s Skill for Londoners Business Partnership Members Group.

Previous roles include the BBC Trust; Chair of the Radio Sector Skills Council; non-executive director of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; and  a Governor at the University of the Arts London. Sonita won the Carlton Multicultural Achievement Award for TV and Radio. She is a Fellow of The Royal Society of the Arts and the Radio Academy.

 

Lesley is an experienced CEO in traditional and digital media businesses including BSkyB, News Corp, Lovefilm and Amazon and ProSebienSat1. Experienced in start-up and turnarounds typically in ultra competitive markets with a focus on consumer facing services, content and technology.

She now runs her own advisory company and works with key industry brands and regulatory bodies. Clients have been based in the UK, MENA, India, Germany, Malaysia, USA and Asia and include Kangaroo, Vue, mbc, GCAM, Hearst, Maxis, Marco and Deezer. She is a former member of Ofcom’s Content Board and is Deputy Chair of a Local TV network of channels.

 

Jonathan Teckman is a former Chief Executive of the British Film Institute. Prior to joining the BFI, he was a policy advisor to both Conservative and Labour Government Ministers and was Secretary to the 1996 Advisory Committee on Film Finance and the 1998 Film Policy Review.

More recently, Jon has taught at Ashridge and Surrey Business Schools and at the University of the Arts London. His first novel, Ordinary Joe, was published by The Borough Press in 2015.

 

The Board of Classification

The Board of Classification consists of the BBFC’s Chief Executive, the President and two Vice Presidents, and has statutory responsibility for classifying video content under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA). Its members are appointed by the Council of Management and the full Board is consulted on difficult decisions.

The President

The President is Patrick Swaffer, a former Senior and Managing Partner of Goodman Derrick solicitors. He is a Consultant to that firm, sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court and is a partner in Media Compliance Services LLP.

Patrick had been the BBFC's legal adviser for many years, a role which he relinquished when he was appointed President.

The Vice Presidents

The Vice Presidents are Murphy Cobbing and Lord Patel.

Murphy is a former BBC news and documentary producer of 20 years standing. She has also worked for the independent TV production company, Liberty Bell, and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. She was born and raised in Gateshead and spent most of her career in journalism in the north east of England. Until recently, she was a trustee and Vice Chair of the Tyneside Cinema, the only purpose built newsreel theatre in the UK still operating, and also a trustee of the North East Circus Development Trust.

Lord Patel is a member of the House of Lords. He is a qualified social worker and in March 2018, was appointed Chair of Social Work England, the regulator for all child, family and adult social workers. He is a Senior Independent Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and was previously Chair of the Mental Health Act Commission, and a Commissioner of the Healthcare Commission and the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. He has also authored a number of national reports, including The Patel Report into Prison Drug Treatment.

The Chief Executive

Our Chief Executive is David Austin. He is responsible for making executive decisions on behalf of the Board of Classification, ensuring the execution of policy, management of the BBFC, and handling external relations with the industries and people we serve, as well as other relevant bodies.

David joined the BBFC in 2003 as an Examiner after a career in the Diplomatic Service, serving in South Asia, Central Africa and the former Yugoslavia. In 2011, he became Assistant Director, Policy and Public Affairs, before becoming Chief Executive in March 2016. He is a member of the Board of the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA).

The Executive Leadership

The Executive Leadership team is empowered to make executive decisions in the Chief Executive's absence.

Deputy CEO

Our Deputy CEO is Dave Barrett. As well as deputising for the CEO in his absence, Dave is responsible for the management of all parts of the classifying process, focusing on the speed and effectiveness of the service, the quality of classifying decisions for BBFC customers, and on the most efficient performance management of the whole BBFC operation. He is also the principle advisor on corporate services to the Chief Executive, co-ordinating IT, human resources and facilities work. Dave became Deputy CEO in July 2019 after holding a number of BBFC posts including Chief Operating Officer. 

 

Director of Policy

The Policy Director is responsible for coordinating the BBFC's policy work and managing and leading on its public affairs effort. The role is also responsible for managing the BBFC’s communications and marketing, education, business development and age-verification teams.

The Policy Director is Murray Perkins. Murray joined the BBFC as a Film and Video Examiner in May 2000. In 2005 he became a Compliance Manager (the role previously titled Senior Examiner). Until his appointment as Policy Director in November 2018 Murray had been leading the Age-Verification team as Head of the Digital Economy Act. Prior to coming to the UK, Murray worked for the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Finance Director

Our Finance Director is Siobhan Smedley-Wild, responsible for ensuring that appropriate and effective financial controls and reporting are in place. Siobhan joined the BBFC in April 2017, having had 14 years post qualification experience. She is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and before joining the BBFC, was Finance Director at Take 2 Films and a Senior Financial Accountant at British Land Company plc.

Other Principal Officers

Head of Age-Verification

Amelia Erratt is our Head of Age-Verification. She is the principal advisor to the Chief Executive and Policy Director on age-verification, and is responsible for managing the BBFC's ongoing responsibilities under the Digital Economy Act 2017.

Amelia joined the BBFC as Compliance Officer in 2014, and in 2017 became Digital Economy Act Officer. Before coming to the BBFC Amelia studied History of Art and completed a Graduate Diploma in Law.

Head of Compliance

Craig Lapper is our Head of Compliance, the principal adviser to the Chief Executive on compliance and classification policy, responsible for its day-to-day management and leading a team of Compliance Officers. Craig joined the BBFC in 1997, and held a number of posts before becoming Senior Examiner in 2006 and Head of Compliance in 2018.

Compliance Manager

Sarah Peacock is our Compliance Manager, with day-to-day responsibility for managing a team of Compliance Officers whose main role is the classifying content submitted to the BBFC. Sarah joined the BBFC in 2014, working as a Compliance Officer and an Education Officer, before becoming Compliance Manager in 2018.

Compliance Officers

Compliance Officers view content and recommend classifications, cuts and other actions, such as proof of age checks for performers. They carry out a range of tasks, including writing ratings info, data entry, and checking online platforms to ensure voluntary compliance with BBFC classifications. They tend to be graduates, but this is not always the case. No specific qualifications are required, however experience in relevant areas such as media regulation, law or child development is important.

Head of Education

Lucy Brett is our Head of Education, co-ordinating the BBFC’s education programme, including educational visits, creating online resources and running our series of in house seminars. Lucy joined the BBFC as an Examiner in 2004 and became Education Officer in 2010. Before joining us, she was a journalist for trade and consumer home entertainment magazines, and a media studies teacher.

Head of Business Services

Tom Cairns is our Head of Business Services. He is responsible for managing the BBFC’s continuing development of digital services for video on demand (VoD) platforms and other non-statutory uses of our ratings and compliance expertise. Tom joined the BBFC in 2010 and has more than a decade of experience of working with brands and content, including for the BBC, 3 Mobile, the FA Premier League, MTV, Universal Music and Sony Music.

Associated Bodies

The Advisory Panel on Children's Viewing (APCV)

The APCV was set up by the BBFC in 1999 to provide advice on issues relating to classifying content for children. The panel consists of members with a range of relevant professional expertise and responsibilities.

The Video Packaging Review Committee (VPRC)

Established in 1987, the VPRC is administered by the BBFC. It is a voluntary system, designed to prevent offence to members of the public caused by explicitly violent or sexual imagery being displayed in public places on the covers of videos and DVDs. It also checks that submitted video packaging complies with relevant legislation regarding the display of age ratings.

Cinema posters for films classified with an age rating of 18 are also reviewed by a joint BBFC-industry body.

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