Media and Criminal Justice Studies Network
Project period: July 2016 – March 2017
This community previously received Initiator Funding for the project: Centre for media and criminal justice studies
GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Sarah Moore (PI)
University of Bristol: Alex Clayton, Eleanor Rycroft
Cardiff University: Inaki Garcia-Blanco
University of Exeter: Sarah Cooper
Our research community brings together academics from the social sciences, arts, and humanities to understand the production, distribution, and reception of as-live courtroom footage. From this we aim to identify how courtroom broadcasting might influence public confidence, trust, and knowledge about criminal justice.
Cameras are being re-introduced to courtrooms in England and Wales, first, in 2007, in the Supreme Court, and, from late 2013, in the Court of Appeal. These represent small, but significant steps towards achieving what the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) refer to as ‘transparent justice’. The MoJ plans to extend the use of cameras to criminal trials, and has recently announced plans to pilot filming in Crown Courts. Their hope is that this will improve the public’s knowledge about and trust in the criminal justice system (MoJ 2014). These are, though, untested ambitions. The relationship between courtroom broadcasting and public attitudes is under-theorised and lacking an empirical basis. More generally-speaking, research concerning as-live broadcasting of official proceedings is very sparse, both in the UK and other common law jurisdictions undergoing similar shifts towards ‘transparent justice’. Our research community will be the first to address this important and fast-changing area of criminal justice policy.
The community used Accelerator funding to hold research meetings, carry out a proof of concept study, engage with stakeholders and run public engagement events. The initial research meetings consolidated the research community and their research plans. The proof of concept study was used to ascertain whether different production and distribution choices elicit different audience responses. Audience response was also assessed via activities at the public engagement events. A stakeholder consultation ensured that the community was addressing the needs and interest of journalists and editors directly involved in crime reporting. The community published several papers and wrote several grant applications. They expect this work to prompt a significant ‘step-change’ in thinking about audience response, transparency, and virtual justice.