Society welcomes camera broadcasts in Crown Courts

Posted on: January 16, 2020 by admin

The Society of Editors has welcomed news that cameras are to be allowed into certain Crown Courts across England and Wales under new legislation put before Parliament today (January 16).

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “The cause of open justice can only be served by this development which will open up the court proceedings to a public that is now used to receiving news and information in this video age.

“The proposals, while retaining the dignity of the courts, will be a huge step forward in ensuring transparency in the justice system, enabling the media to allow the public better access to judicial proceedings which in turn can only assure communities that justice is being seen to be carried out correctly.

“This move follows a determined campaign by broadcasters BBC, ITV and Sky and they are to be congratulated on their perseverance in this important matter.”

The full release by the Ministry of Justice can be read below: 

Cameras to broadcast from the Crown Court for the first time

  • Judges’ sentencing remarks to be broadcast
  • Public able to watch online
  • Move welcomed by national broadcasters

TELEVISION cameras will be allowed to broadcast from Crown Courts in England and Wales for the first time, following draft legislation due to be laid by the Government today (16 January).

The Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 will allow cameras to broadcast the sentencing remarks of High Court and Senior Circuit judges in some of the most high-profile courts across the country, including the Old Bailey.

Proceedings are currently broadcast from certain Court of Appeal cases. Extending this to the Crown Court means the public will be able to hear judges explain the reasons behind their sentences for the most serious offences.

Filming will be restricted to sentencing remarks only and no other court user – including victims, witnesses, jurors and court staff – will be filmed.

Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, said:

“This Government, alongside the judiciary, is committed to improving public understanding of our justice system and allowing cameras into the Crown Court will do just that.

“It will ensure our courts remain open and transparent and allow people to see justice being delivered to the most serious of offenders.”

Today’s legislation follows a successful three-month pilot that allowed not-for-broadcast sentencing remarks to be filmed in eight Crown Courts and has been welcomed by ITN, Sky and the BBC.

John Battle, Head of Compliance at ITN, said:

“This is a landmark moment and an important day for open justice and transparency of our legal system. For the first time the public will see images of proceedings in the Crown Court on television news.

“This change will help a wider audience to see and understand the criminal justice process for themselves.”

John Ryley, Head of Sky News, said:

“The filming of judges’ sentencing remarks in the Crown Court is a great day for transparency in our courts. This is a further step in helping the public to understand the constraints under which judges work and the complexities of many of the biggest criminal cases.

“This has been a long campaign by the three main broadcasters working together.”

Fran Unsworth, Director of News and Current Affairs at the BBC, said:

“Today’s announcement comes after a great campaign by the BBC, ITV and Sky to allow filming of judges’ sentencing remarks in the Crown Court and is a momentous day for transparency in our justice system.

“By opening up the courts, our audiences will be able to further their understanding of the criminal justice system and witness the judicial process for themselves.”

This provision is part of the Government’s wider court reform and digitalisation programme, using technology and modern ways of working to increase access to justice for people up and down the country.