Crown Court Sentencings 'To Be Televised'

Crown Court Sentencings 'To Be Televised'

TV cameras could soon be allowed to film judges sentencing murderers, rapists and other criminals, under new government plans.

Downing Street has suggested the decision to allow cameras into the Court of Appeal later this year could pave the way for footage of the most serious Crown Court cases to also be broadcast.

Filming of the Supreme Court is already allowed and viewers will be able to see lawyers' arguments and the rulings of appeal court judges under the changes coming into force by October.

The decision to allow cameras in court followed a long campaign by broadcasters including Sky News.

A government source said the Ministry of Justice was working with the judiciary and broadcasters to then extend this to Crown courts, in an effort to "bring a new openness" to the system in England and Wales.

Broadcasters will determine which cases are covered, subject to necessary judicial checks and victims, witnesses and defendants will not be filmed - as they are in US-style televised trials,

"This is an important step in opening up the court process," the source said

"Allowing the public to watch justice in action will help build trust in our judicial system.

"Hearing why verdicts have been given and watching the sentencing process will add to public confidence in the courts."

The source added: "In some cases it will not be in the interests of justice to broadcast footage."

In January the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, raised concerns about sentencing being shown on television amid fears that members of the judiciary would be booed.

He told the Lords Constitution Committee that filming a sentencing could encourage hecklers to yell abuse or even cheer, adding: "I'm very troubled about having cameras just swanning around."