Britain to allow cameras in Crown Courts for first time

Jan. 16 (UPI) — The British government said Thursday it’s planning to allow cameras, for the first time in history, to film parts of high-profile cases inside Crown Courts of England and Wales.

The historic move was announced by the Ministry of Justice, which said legislation allowing the cameras will soon be introduced in Parliament.

Under the change, cameras will be permitted to broadcast sentencing remarks by High Court and Senior Circuit judges in high-profile criminal cases — but not the actual trials. The only thing the cameras will be able to capture are the judges and their comments at sentencing.

“Proceedings are currently broadcast from certain Court of Appeal cases,” the justice ministry said. “Extending this to the Crown Court means the public will be able to hear judges explain the reasons behind their sentences for the most serious offenses.

“Filming will be restricted to sentencing remarks only and no other court user — including victims, witnesses, jurors and court staff — will be filmed.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said officials decided on the change after a long period of “examination and consultation,” and stressed the move is aimed at providing information — not entertainment — to the public. He also noted Britain’s government, judiciary and broadcasters all support the change.

Scottish Courts began allowing television cameras under certain conditions in 1992, but did not allow a televised sentencing until 2012.

“It is important that the justice system and what happens in our courts are as transparent as possible,” said Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Ian Duncan Burnett. “My hope is that there will be regular broadcasting of the remarks in high profile cases, and that will improve public understanding.”

Thursday’s approval follows a three-month trial during which cameras were allowed in eight Crown Courts. None of the footage was broadcast, but the test run allowed officials to see how such a change would work logistically and strategically.