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.

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.

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