Court! Camera! Action!
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that cameras will be allowed into the Crown Court for the first time in a pilot that will run for three months.
However, this does not mean that the public will get the chance to watch live coverage of Crown Court cases. The pilot will only film the judges’ sentencing remarks and will not film the victims, witnesses, defendants or advocates. This is in contrast to high profile cases in other countries, where the whole criminal trial has been televised, for example the Oscar Pistorius trial.
The pilot will run in eight Crown Courts across England and Wales, including the Old Bailey.
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that although the sentencing remarks will be filmed, they will not be broadcasted. It may however be a step toward broadcasting criminal trials.
Although members of the public and press can watch most Crown Court trials from the public gallery, filming and recording is strictly prohibited under section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and the Contempt of Court Act 1981.
Filming is currently allowed in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, but now we might be able to witness some of the criminal case itself, rather than the legal argument for appeal.
It is argued that allowing cameras into the Crown Court will lead to transparency and allow a wider selection of the public to see and hear the judge’s decision, which will lead to a greater understanding of what a judge must take into consideration when sentencing.
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that safeguards will be put in place to make sure victims are supported and the administration of justice is upheld.
It will be interesting to see the impact, if any, that the cameras will have in the courtroom.