Sentencing remarks for high-profile Northamptonshire criminal cases will soon be filmed for first time

Judges' sentencing remarks for some of the biggest criminal cases in Northamptonshire will soon be able to be filmed and distributed for the first time under a new law change.

By Jack Duggan
Friday, 17th January 2020, 5:45 am

Television cameras will be allowed to broadcast from crown courts in England and Wales following draft legislation laid by the Government yesterday (Thursday, January 16).

A spokesman for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) said Northampton Crown Court would have to submit how filming would work once the change is passed by Parliament.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: “This government, alongside the judiciary, is committed to improving public understanding of our justice system and allowing cameras into the crown court will do just that.

Northampton Crown Court

“It will ensure our courts remain open and transparent and allow people to see justice being delivered to the most serious of offenders.”

The Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 will allow the media to broadcast the sentencing remarks of judges in some of the most high-profile courts across the country.

Proceedings are currently broadcast from certain Court of Appeal cases but extending this to crown courts will improve the public's understanding of sentencing, according to HMCTS.

Trials will not filmed and individual judges will decide if their sentencing remarks can be recorded with the burden placed on media outlets to apply, an HMCTS spokesman said.

HMCTS will own the copyright so media outlets will have to film the judge with their own equipment before sending the footage to the court for it to be uploaded to a public website.

No other court user – including victims, defendants, witnesses, jurors and court staff – will be filmed while live footage will have a 10-second delay to account for outbursts and reporting restrictions.

The legislation follows a successful three-month pilot that allowed not-for-broadcast sentencing remarks to be filmed in eight crown courts and has been welcomed by broadcasters.

Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs at the BBC, described yesterday's announcement as a 'momentous day for transparency in our justice system'.

“By opening up the courts, our audiences will be able to further their understanding of the criminal justice system and witness the judicial process for themselves," she added.

Recently several families of victims involved in Northampton Crown Court cases have complained about the sentence imposed for the defendant being too lenient.

The loved ones of Bradley Matcham, Stephen Swann and Louis-Ryan Menezes all felt the respective killers' jail terms were not long enough.

The judge's sentencing remarks for all three potentially could have been filmed, had this legislation been enacted sooner.

Not everyone has welcomed the move though as Bar Council chairman Amanda Pinto said judges' may be more likely to be attacked if they become more recognisable to the public.