Cameras to be allowed into Crown courts

Topics: Criminal justice,Media, entertainment and sport

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Judges’ sentencing remarks will be broadcast from eight courts in England and Wales as part of a new pilot scheme.

Justice minister Shailesh Vara and the lord chief justice today announced the proposals, which will allow filming of Crown court proceedings for the first time in this country.

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The pilot will take place in the Central Criminal Court and in the Crown court at Southwark, Manchester (Crown Square), Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds and Cardiff.

The Ministry of Justice said safeguards will be put in place to make sure victims of crime continue to be supported and the administration of justice is not affected.

The cameras will film only the judge. The filming of all other court users, including staff, victims, witnesses, defendants and advocates will remain prohibited.

Vara said: ‘My hope is that this will lead to more openness and transparency as to what happens in our courts. Broadcasting sentencing remarks would allow the public to see and hear the judge’s decision in their own words.’

The scheme will be confirmed in an affirmative statutory instrument to be laid in the House of Commons tomorrow. Timescales for when the test can proceed will depend on the passage of the legislation through parliament. The tests will begin as soon as possible once the legislation is passed.

Footage is already broadcast from the Court of Appeal. The existing broadcasters operating in the appeal court (BBC, SKY, ITN and Press Association) have agreed to support the three-month pilot period at no cost to the public purse.

This arrangement will be managed under the existing commercial arrangements in place for the Court of Appeal.

Crown courts are already open to the press and public, but section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and the Contempt of Court Act 1981 prohibit filming and recording.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Must dust off my clown's uniform.

    Particularly when appearing at Court Number 4 in the RCJ .....

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  • This will be so beneficial , especially for a deeper understanding of the processes involved for any keen law students and could even encourage more people to work in the legal sector

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  • The whole point is that the viewing rights can be sold to generate more income to fund the courts system.

    Next we'll have commercial sponsorship and maybe a panel of experts in the studio commenting on how the prosecution and defence have done with their interactive white board and of course Geoff Shreeves doorstepping lead Counsel as he comes down the tunnel.....

    I've definitely had some strong coffee this morning !! But a good bit of foresight I thought !!

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  • Maybe a phone in section. And a judging panel. And the weakest judge each week gets voted off. In a board-room environment and everything.

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  • You're....guilty!

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  • Charlie Dimock
    If idiots watching daytime TV are going to become the next generation of solicitors/barristers because they see a bit of the action through a camera in court , then we can abandon all hope in the future.
    This is a gimmick. If Joe Public is interested he can go to any court and see the cases for himself. The 'can't be ****d' couch potato is not who we want for the legal profession.

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  • Maybe we could have a phone vote on a premium rate number to decide the sentence. The courts would pay for themselves in no time.

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  • G-d forbid they should televise any submission or mitigation, lest the public form an opinion as to whether the judge's sentencing remarks are balanced or unfair.

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  • The smug, pompous comments posted by many on here perfectly illustrates why lawyers have a poor public profile. Anon at 03.33 have you forgotten Crown Court, the staple of daytime TV in the 70s. This sporned a number of, who are now, prominent lawyers. I think you guys need to relax.

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