Cameras in courts bill set to make the Queen's Speech

Plans to allow television cameras into criminal courts for the first time will be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech in May, according to reports.

The Government first announced its intention to allow cameras into courts last September in a bid to improve public understanding of the justice system and spearhead ‘unprecedented plans to improve transparency”.

At the time it said footage will first be broadcast from the Court of Appeal, after which the Government will look to expand the scheme to the Crown Court.

Today The Independent reports that the move is designed to reduce the ”mystique’ of courtrooms and their sometimes arcane jargon, and to help the public re-engage with the criminal justice system.

Under the plans cameras will only be allowed in court to record judges’ summing-up at the end of trials, as well as the sentencing.

They will not be allowed to film any other parts of a trial such as barristers’ opening and closing statements in order to prevent ‘showboating by lawyers, defendants and witnesses”, according to The Independent.

The news comes after years of lobbying by UK broadcasters BBC, ITN and Sky. Last month they wrote to the Government to ensure that legislation to partially lift the ban on television cameras in court was included in the next Queen’s Speech.

John Battle, head of compliance at ITN, told The Independent: “The public in this country see justice being done all over the world but they don’t see it in their own. It will bring greater engagement between the public and the judicial system.”

A spokesman for Victim Support said: “The justice system does need to be more transparent and accessible. But this does not mean that court cases should become a new form of reality TV. Any move towards an increased role for the media needs safeguards to protect victims and witnesses.”

Filming and broadcasting in court is currently banned under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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