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100s outraged by 'scroungers' doc

'Stereotyped' Channel 4 show provokes Ofcom complaints

Channel 4 faced accusations yesterday that its Benefits Street documentary incited death threats and fuelled negative stereotypes.

It was inundated with complaints after dozens of posts threatening violence appeared on social media after the show was aired on Monday.

West Midlands Police said it was investigating the threats and TV watchdog Ofcom said it has received over 100 complaints.

Film makers portrayed unemployed residents of Birmingham's poverty-stricken James Turner Street as scroungers and addicts.

They provoked a hateful response from some social media users, which included calls for the street's residents to be burned, gassed and castrated.

One user wrote: "I want to walk down #benefitsstreet with a baseball bat and brain a few of these scumbags."

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class author Owen Jones hit back at myths peddled by the show's producers, pointing out most benefits go to people in low-paid jobs.

He wrote: "Make everyone think unemployed people are scroungers, and let the bankers and tax-dodgers get away with it. Clever, really.

"As for well-off TV producers trying to further their career by turning the poor against the poor: You. Are. The. Pits."

His response was shared thousands of times by others angry over the smearing of working-class people.

Campaigning blogger Tom Pride labelled the programme "irresponsible" in a complaint letter to Channel 4 detailing online attacks.

A spokesman for the company insisted there was "absolutely no incitement to violence against anyone featured."

He said: "It is a sympathetic, humane and objective portrayal of how people are coping with continuing austerity and cuts in benefits."

But resident Dee Roberts had alleged Love Productions tricked her and others into participating.

"They said they wanted to film for a TV show about how great community spirit is in the street and how we all help each other out on a daily basis," she told the Birmingham Mail.

The local paper conducted its own door-to-door survey of James Turner Street which rubbished reports that nine out of 10 residents were unemployed.


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