Press release

Crown Courts to pilot filming for the first time

Justice Minister announces not-for-broadcast trial that will film judges’ sentencing remarks in 8 courts in England and Wales.

Proposals to launch a pilot that would see television cameras allowed into the Crown Court for the first time have been announced by the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chief Justice.

The cameras would be able to film the sentencing remarks of nominated senior judges in 8 courts across England and Wales as part of a not-for-broadcast pilot.

Justice Minister Shailesh 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.

Lord Chief Justice the Right Honourable the Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said:

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.

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.

Safeguards will be put in place to make sure victims 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.

The government will work with broadcasters to support the pilot at no cost to the public.

Notes

  • An affirmative SI will be laid in the House of Commons on Monday 21 March. 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.
  • There is already footage broadcast from the Court of Appeal. The existing broadcasters operating in the Court of Appeal (BBC, SKY, ITN and Press Association) have agreed to support the 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.
  • The pilot will run for 3 months so that the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary can consider the pilot and ensure that justice is not affected by the presence of cameras in courtrooms.
  • Crown Courts are already open to the press and public but under section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and the Contempt of Court Act 1981 filming and recording is prohibited.