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Court of Appeal judgments to be televised

6 September 2011

Ken Clarke, justice secretary, has told the Commons that the government will legislate to remove the ban on cameras in courts.

Clarke said that, as a starting point, Court of Appeal judgments would be televised for the first time.

In a written ministerial statement released this afternoon, the justice secretary said: “I want to see this expanded to the Crown Court, but I will work closely with the Lord Chief Justice and judiciary on how this could be achieved.

“I will consult further on the detailed approach, but I am clear that this must not give offenders opportunities for theatrical public display.

“We will work to ensure this does not hinder the administration of justice and that it protects victims, witnesses, offenders and jurors.”

Peter Lodder QC, chairman of the Bar Council, gave a “qualified welcome” to the proposals.

“Public trust in the criminal justice system may be enhanced by the broadcasting of sentencing remarks,” he said.

“All sentencing decisions are explained fully, but the full extent of the judge’s remarks is often unreported.”

Max Hill QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, added: “Criminal barristers have nothing to fear from increased public scrutiny, which can only demonstrate the quality and integrity of our profession.

“We do, however, have reservations about the potential broadcast of the trial process itself. Extracts shown in isolation may give a biased impression of a long criminal trial in which the jury have patiently listened to weeks or months of evidence from both the prosecution and defence.

“We must be cautious about placing any extra pressure on victims and witnesses, or exposing jury members to undue external influence.”

Broadcasting in court is currently prohibited by section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

In a further development, the justice secretary announced a plan to publish “far more and better data on justice”.

These will include court-by-court statistics for the time taken for cases to be processed from offence to conviction, allowing people to compare the performance of their local courts.

Details will also be given on how many trials were ineffective and why, along with figures for those convicted or released from prisons in each area and how often they reoffended.

From May 2012 the outcomes of court cases will be placed alongside crime data on so people can see what happens after crimes are committed in their areas.

There will also be more information on the civil and family justice systems, including how long it takes each court to process small claims hearings, larger cases and care proceedings.

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Funding Courts & Judiciary