Cameras were allowed to film a criminal case in England and Wales for the first time on Thursday, when the conviction of a man convicted of manslaughter was broadcast live on television.
The government says the move, first promised a decade ago, will give the public a better understanding of the judicial process.
Filming will be limited to the judge’s sentencing comments, and only the judge will appear in front of the camera, with a 10-second delay for live broadcasts.
In the first televised case in London’s central criminal court at Old Bailey, Judge Sarah Munro saw Ben Oliver jailed for life with a minimum sentence of more than 10 years after he admitted to killing his grandfather in January.
Currently, hearings in the London Court of Appeals and the British Supreme Court can be televised, and some cases in Scotland, which has a separate court system, have been broadcast since 1992.
Until Thursday, cameras were strictly prohibited in criminal cases in England and Wales, with footage from hearings being limited to sketches made from memory by artists who are still banned from drawing in the courtroom itself.
Proponents of televised hearings say it will help show the public why decisions are made, but critics fear that expanding this process further so that trials can be broadcast could lead to things becoming sensational.
Some US courts allow broadcasters to film proceedings, allowing the public to watch high-profile criminal trials, and other countries, such as France, are considering allowing cases to be televised.
“Opening up the courtroom to cameras to film the sentencing of some of the country’s worst offenders will improve transparency and build confidence in the justice system,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.
“The public will now be able to see how justice is delivered, helping them better understand the complex decisions judges make,” he said.
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