THERE has been a call for journalists to be able to take photographs and record audio inside  court rooms.

All photography and recording is currently strictly prohibited inside court rooms, with photographers often waiting outside court buildings to capture photographs of defendants either entering or leaving.

The Independent press standards organisation (IPSO) have stated that journalists covering court cases can do the following:

  • Journalists are allowed to go to court and report anything which is said or given as evidence in court.
  • Journalists are generally allowed to print certain information about people who go to court or give evidence, including their address and a photo of them.
  • Journalists must follow the rules set by the Editors’ Code of Practice (the Code).
  • Journalists are allowed to choose what information they want to report, and do not have to report everything which has been said in court.

A National Union of Journalists (NUJ) spokesperson said: “Audio recordings are allowed in court for personal notes but not for broadcast; pictures and video are forbidden “within the precincts” of the court.

“That’s why Tommy Robinson was jailed, and several other people using camera phones in court have also been jailed for contempt.

“The NUJ does not currently have policy to campaign to allow pictures in court rooms. The main reason why people may object is that if identity is an issue (as it often is) then pictures could prejudice a witness.

“The union is currently developing a new campaign about the lack of court reporting and we will consider this issue in more detail as part of that work.”

On a recent course with Google in York our editor designed a model, which utilised technology for different purposes within court. When the idea was presented to a room full of journalists and Google staff it got a great welcome.

Some of the pitfalls with the archaic system in courts at present is that there are not even microphones to hear clearly what the accused, the judge, prosecution and defence are saying. In our editor’s view there is clearly room for error as it stands.

The model also utilised technology so that victims who chose not to attend court could also view or listen to the proceedings.

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