Government to lift ban on TV cameras in court

The ban on television cameras in court is being overturned in a bid to improve ‘public understanding of the justice system”, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has announced.

The Ministry of Justice said the decision to allow broadcasters to screen footage from court was part of an ‘unprecedented plans to improve transparency”.

‘The Government and judiciary are determined to improve transparency and public understanding of court through allowing court broadcasting,’said Clarke.

‘We believe television has a role in increasing public confidence in the justice system.”

Footage will first be broadcast from the Court of Appeal, after which the Government will look to expand the scheme to the Crown Court.

Broadcasters will only be allowed to film judges’ summary remarks, meaning victims, witnesses, offenders and jurors will not be filmed.

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, but the Government plans to introduce new legislation to amend the acts.

Clarke also announced the following measures to improve transparency within the justice system:

• “Court-by-court statistics for the time taken for cases to be processed, from offence to conviction, allowing people to compare the performance of their local courts

• “Details on how many trials were ineffective and why they were ineffective

• “Anonymised data on each case heard at local courts and the sentences given

• “Details of how many people have been convicted or released from prisons in each area and how often they re-offended afterwards

• “From next May justice outcomes will be placed alongside crime data on so people can see what happens next after crimes are committed in their areas

• “More information on the civil and family justice systems, including how long it takes each court to process small claims hearings, larger cases and care proceedings.”

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office said: “The LCJ is aware of the Government’s intentions and will work with them to ensure that any changes to the current position safeguard all parties in a case and will not affect the administration of justice.”

On Monday John Ryley, head of Sky News, wrote an open letter to Clarke urging the ban on cameras to be overturned.

In January 2010 he spearheaded a campaign to get television into the courts.

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