Crisis in our Courts

Since January 2018, the Society has been working with HM Courts and Tribunals Service to promote court reporting in England and Wales. This followed the launch of the Society’s ‘Crisis in our Courts’ campaign intended to explore ways in which coverage of courts in the UK could be dramatically improved.

Since then we have held a seminar with speakers including John Whittingdale MP and former Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge which was attended by journalists, academics, industry leaders, politicians and members of the judiciary and Ministry of Justice.

The campaign has seen meetings held with the-then Justice Minister the Rt Hon Lucy Frazer, MP, and senior ministry figures at HM Courts and Tribunals service.


Society of Editors and HMCTS court reporting roadshows

Since the launch of the campaign, the Society has embarked on an ambitious partnership with the Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to stage regional roadshows to promote court reporting and improve media access to courts. 

In April 2019, we held an inaugural court reporting roundtable, with over 30 attendees from the South West region coming to Bristol to meet the CEO of HMCTS, Susan Acland-Hood and regional heads of court operations.

In July 2019, the Society travelled to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to discuss court reporting in the North East of England. 

In the autumn of 2019, two further court reporting roundtables took place in Birmingham and Cardiff gathering regional media representatives from the Midlands and Wales respectively. The Society is planning further events in Manchester and London, in conjunction with the Royal Courts of Justice, later in the year.

These events have been successful in providing an opportunity for regional court reporters to meet local court staff and executives to talk through any barriers faced by journalists in accessing magistrate and crown courts.


Media guidance on court reporting 

The Society has been actively involved in efforts to streamline the HMCTS media guidelines issued to court staff. While distributed to HMCTS staff, this document is a useful aid to journalists seeking clarification on what they are entitled to access and do in a courtroom. The guidance was initially published in October 2018 with an updated version published in March 2020 and officially launched at an event hosted by HMCTS, the Society of Editors and the News Media Association at the Old Bailey in London. Photos from the event, which also saw a roundtable discussion of court reporting with legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg, can be found below. (Credit: HM Courts and Tribunal Service). 

Following the launch, we spoke to attendees about why access to the courts is essential to open justice. (Videos: HM Courts and Tribunals Service

John Battle, Head of Compliance, ITN

Kate McCure, President, Foreign Press Association in London

Toby Granville, Editorial Director, Newsquest

Tristan Kirk, Courts Reporter, Evening Standard

Dr Sally Reardon, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, UWE Bristol

Ian Murray, Executive Director, Society of Editors

  • Download the new media guidance on the HMCTS website. 

Read more about these events so far:

  • Cardiff(Welsh court reporters), November 5, 2019. 
  • Birmingham(Midlands court reporters), September 12, 2019.
  • Sunderland(North East court reporters), July 4 2019.
  • Bristol(South West court reporters), April 25 2019.

Pictured: Susan Acland-Hood (CEO of HMCTS) and Ian Murray (Executive director, Society of Editors).