Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Updates of Legal Affairs…

Television cameras to be allowed in the courts to let public see how sentences are carried out

March 29th, 2012

court room

The idea of ‘open justice’ system, where the public would be given the demonstration of how the offenders are being punished and allowing them to engage with the justice system, will open the court proceedings to the public through television by allowing cameras inside the courts to film the sentencing of serious criminals.

The plan is to be announced in the Queen’s Speech in May.

The move, first proposed in September last year and supported by David Cameron, has been given confirmation by the Ministry of Justice and is expected to become operational from May.

The access though will not be unlimited but it is believed that initially strict limited access would be granted allowing only filming of the sentencing and judge’s final summary at the end of the case.

The opening and closing statements of lawyers, the testimony of witnesses or verdicts will not yet be allowed to film.

It would be introduced in the Court of Appeal, before gradually letting to filter down to Crown Court proceedings.

Kenneth Clarke, justice secretary, has said the Government and judiciary were united in trying to improve transparency and public understanding of court by allowing court broadcasting.

He added that they believed television had a role in increasing public confidence in the justice system.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice last night told the Independent newspaper that ‘Open justice’ was a longstanding and fundamental principle of the British legal system. He added that justice must be done and be seen to be done if it was to command public confidence.

There was a campaign by broadcasting agencies including BBC, ITN and Sky News where they said it was a fundamental freedom to witness justice in action from the public gallery and television was the medium to open it to all.

It is also supported by Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions saying that it would result in greater transparency in the justice system.

He added that within the move there was a need of appropriate safeguards, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals, and any requests to televise any part of the court process should be subject to the judge’s individual discretion.