Television cameras are to be allowed into crown courts for the first time, the justice minister has announced.
Shailesh Vara said that judges’ sentencing remarks in eight courts in England and Wales will be filmed in a three-month pilot scheme.
The courts taking part are the Old Bailey and courts at Southwark in south London, Manchester (Crown Square), Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds and Cardiff.
Filming and recording in courts is banned under s 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and the Contempt of Court Act 1981. But it has been permitted in the Supreme Court since 2009 and in the Court of Appeal since 2013.
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.’
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said he was ‘interested’ to see how this pilot progresses and that he will work with the Ministry of Justice to assess the impact of cameras in court.
The cameras will film only the judges passing sentence. There will be no footage of other parts of a case or any other court users, including staff, victims, witnesses, defendants, barristers and solicitors.