Over 30 cases broadcast in first year of TV cameras in Crown Court

One year anniversary of cameras starting to roll in the Crown Court

  • over 30 cases beamed into nation’s living rooms in last 12 months
  • filming could be extended to include sentencing remarks of Court of Appeal judges in Crown Court

Millions of viewers have seen justice served in over 30 serious criminal cases in the last year – shining a spotlight on the inner workings of the Crown Court and boosting public understanding on how trials operate.

Today (Friday 28 July) marks the one-year anniversary since the first TV broadcast of sentencing remarks from the Old Bailey, capturing the sentencing of Ben Oliver who was in the dock for the manslaughter of his grandfather.

Since that landmark moment – made possible thanks to a major change in the law permitting camera crews to film judges in the Crown Court as they sentence serious criminals – broadcasters have filmed the sentencing of 33 offenders, including Thomas Cashman and Wayne Couzens.

And in a bid to further boost public understanding of how justice is delivered in England and Wales, Parliament is now consulting on whether to expand filming to include Court of Appeal judges sitting in the Crown Court.

If the law is extended, it would mean sentencing remarks in even more serious cases could be captured and beamed to the nation, throwing the doors open on the workings of the country’s most senior judges.

Justice Minister, Mike Freer, said:

"Today marks one year since this landmark change opened up the Crown Court to television cameras, seeing them broadcast judges’ sentencing remarks for some of the most serious offenders for the first time.

"It has allowed the public to see justice being done in their courts and to understand the complex decisions judges make, building confidence in the justice system."

Measures only allow for the judge to be filmed during sentencing remarks to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses and jurors.

Chair of the broadcast group filming proceedings, John Battle, (ITN’s Head of Legal and Compliance) said:

"Filming of sentencing has been a great success and has swiftly become the norm. It has brought public engagement with the justice system to a whole new level.

"For many it will have been the first time they have seen inside the Crown Court and the sentencing process."

Authorised broadcasters - Sky, BBC, ITN and Press Association - must apply to film and broadcast the sentencing remarks and requests are decided by the judge in each case.

Filmed remarks are aired with a short delay when broadcasting live to avoid any breach of reporting restrictions or errors, with footage subject to the usual reporting restrictions. They are then hosted by Sky News on a dedicated YouTube channel where they have so far generated hundreds of thousands of views.

The change has been made possible thanks to HMCTS staff alongside media partners.

This provision comes alongside the government’s wider court reform and digitalisation programme to increase access to justice, including the roll out of video technology to facilitate thousands of remote hearings and the use of video-recorded evidence for victims of rape and sexual offences.

Ministry of Justice
HM Courts & Tribunals Service
Mike Freer MP