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Television cameras to be allowed in English and Welsh crown courts

27th Apr 2016

Television cameras will be allowed into crown courts in England and Wales for the first time under Ministry of Justice (MoJ) regulations that will be debated by parliament.

The limited pilot test will last for three months, and will be trialed in eight courts in which only sentencing remarks by judges will be recorded. However, none of the material will be broadcast. Cameras will record only the crown court judge, whilst filming of all other court users, including staff, victims, witnesses, defendants and advocates will remain prohibited.

Broadcasters that already operate in the court of appeal – the BBC, Sky, ITN and the Press Association – have agreed to pay the cost of the crown court experiment.

The MoJ, which says it is committed to more openness and transparency in the courts, will assess the results of the trial before deciding whether or not to introduce the scheme into all crown courts. Proceedings of the Supreme Court and the appeal court are already broadcast, and some trials in Scottish crown courts have also been filmed, setting a precedent for the trial-run.

The test cameras will operate in the central criminal court (better known as the Old Bailey) in London as well as crown courts in Southwark, Manchester (Crown Square), Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds and Cardiff.

There has been much support for the expansion of televising trials; The justice minister, Shailesh Vara, said that she hopes “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 lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, has also supported the proposal. “I am interested to see how this pilot progresses and will work with the Ministry of Justice to assess the impact of cameras in court,” he said.