The former Director of Public Prosecutions has suggested that cameras could be allowed to broadcast live from criminal courts within five years.
Keir Starmer (pictured: Reuters) said in an interview that the case for cameras in courts is “getting stronger and stronger”, highlighting the fact that other countries, including South Africa, Italy and the United States, already allow live broadcasting from their courts.
“I think that there’s only one direction of travel. I would be very surprised if in the next five years we haven’t moved on again,” he told the Daily Mail.
“The principle is open justice and there’s a disconnect between the fact we’ve got a right to walk into any court but it can’t be screened. Most people don’t have the time to go to court and therefore they don’t know what’s going on in courts.”
According to the paper, he said criminal courts could start by allowing sentencing to be broadcast before broadening out to witness testimonies.
Cameras have been allowed in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court since last autumn and Starmer told the Mail it is a “moving issue”.
Critics have suggested that the presence of cameras could encourage witnesses to play to the cameras or discourage them from appearing in court at all.
But Starmer has predicted that it will become the “norm”, like cameras’ presence in Parliament.
“I think opposition to the idea is lessening. By seeing trials, the public will better understand what's going in. But I also think the scrutiny would improve criminal justice," he said.
“If a torch is shone, that tends to improve things. Speed and efficiency of cases would be improved. Our legal system sometimes moves slowly and constant scrutiny helps with issues of efficiency.”
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