Judge’s Sentencing Remarks To Be Televised From Crown Courts

Judge’s Sentencing Remarks To Be Televised From Crown Courts

Following draft legislation laid down by the government on 16 January, television cameras will be given the authority to broadcast the sentencing remarks of judges in some high-profile courts throughout England and Wales.

Applying to the sentencing from High Court and Senior Circuit judges, including the Old Bailey, the Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020, allows cameras into the court rooms, but will restrict the filming to sentencing remarks only and show no other court users.

The draft legislation comes following a three-month consultation that saw sentencing remarks filmed in eight Crown Courts.

The aim of the legislation is to allow the public to hear judges ‘explain the reasons behind their sentences for the most serious offences’.

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.”

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.”

Broadcasters will however, not be allowed free reign when it comes to what is broadcasts. The filming will be subject to the usual reporting restrictions, as well as edited. The broadcasters will also need to obtain permission from the judiciary in advance.

The Law Society has stated:

“We believe that transparency is an indispensable principle of justice. It is important to improve public confidence in, and access to, our courts. Done sensitively, and with appropriate reporting restrictions, broadcasting from the courts during some proceedings – such as sentencing – could add significant value to public life.

“What proceedings are broadcast must be considered carefully. It is important to avoid putting the fairness of trials at risk or creating undue stress for defendants, witnesses and victims alike.”

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