Smile, You're on Camera

Reports in the media today have confirmed that TV cameras are going to be allowed to film in Crown Courts in England and Wales for the first time later this year.

New legislation will allow Judges' sentencing remarks in serious high profile criminal cases to be seen and heard by TV and online audiences.

Under the proposals the Judge alone will be seen on camera as he or she delivers their sentencing remarks ‘live’ with a slight delay built in.  

Whilst the proposals are a step forward in promoting more openness as to how the criminal justice system operates, my concern is that the end result may be taken out of context if the public are not shown how the Judge reached his or her sentencing conclusion. 

As a solicitor advocate regularly appearing before the Crown Court, my job, and that of the prosecutor, is to assist the Judge with reaching a sentence by referring to official sentencing guidelines and sometimes case law. 

I also advance personal mitigation on behalf of the defendant which can often be persuasive in how the Judge then determines the overall sentence as part of his or her sentencing remarks.

Without full access to the sentence hearing, which can be quite lengthy, the public may be left scratching their heads as to how and why certain sentences are reached by the Judge.

It will be interesting to see what happens...