MPs to consider law to allow filming in Crown Courts

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Proposals to allow television cameras to broadcast sentencing from Crown Courts have moved one step closer, as draft legislation is laid down in Parliament.

The Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 would allow High Court and Senior Circuit judges to be filmed as they hand out penalties in criminal cases.

The move will now be considered in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and if passed would be the first time that sentencing remarks in criminal cases are broadcast.

Filming has only been permitted in certain Court of Appeal cases since 2013 and the UK’s highest court – the Supreme Court – also videos proceedings for visitors to views from its exhibition area.

Only the judges would be filmed as they hand out sentences and give the reasoning behind their decision - victims, witnesses, jurors or court staff would not be caught on camera.

Barristers have warned that the move could turn court proceedings into a “spectator sport” and that judges could face a backlash from viewers who have not seen the context of the whole criminal trial.

But Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said the move was “very much about information rather than entertainment.”

He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “Very often we hear a story about a case and we think ‘why did the judge pass that sort of sentence?’ and frankly we don’t have all the details.

“Now in a direct way, in a modern way, we’ll be able to see in those high profile cases exactly why a judge made the decision – we’ll hear the factual basis for the sentence.”

The former barrister added: “With that information I think that actually improves the system and actually makes justice much more of a real thing and a better understood thing.”

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