TV cameras could be let in to UK courts

Trained professionals in broadcast jobs could be allowed in to UK courts in future to televise the sentencing process.

According to BBC News, the government is “seriously considering” the option, which may see judges’ closing comments transmitted in a bid to make the legal system more transparent.

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said: “There’s a lot of misunderstanding on how the criminal justice system works. What we don’t want is theatre and we don’t want to alter the behaviour or the conduct of the trial. We want people to have confidence in it.”

In his view, transparency, open information and public confidence are key factors for the future of the legal system – although he noted that any decision to televise sentencing would have to be approached cautiously.

Clarke’s sentiments were echoed by shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan MP, who was reported by the Independent as saying that public understanding of the legal process could improve as a result.

The newspaper revealed that, as well as the judge’s comments, the barristers’ opening and closing statements may be broadcast. The identities of jurors and witnesses would be protected by not filming the moment a verdict is returned.

For the approach to be introduced, new legislation would need to be agreed upon.

by Paul Smithson on September 6, 2011

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