Release of Prosecution Material to the Media

The protocol for the media to have prosecution material

This protocol is another topic that boils down to the public interest in court cases. As a result of the publics right to reports in the press that fully explain such cases, both the prosecuting agency and the investigating police force often provide assistance to journalists. This might be for reports covering cases which are in progress or for background material. In order for the case to be fully aired, journalists may need access to the prosecution material and this includes evidence such as film footage or photographs.

A national protocol on this subject was issued in 2005 by the Crown Prosecution Service, after talks in which representatives from both the media and the police could both state their case in the matter.

The result was the drawing up of the following list of prosecution materials (including trials at magistrates courts) that should usually be released for media use:

  • Photographs (including custody photos of defendants)

  • Maps and other diagrams produced in court

  • Video footage of the scene of the crime as recorded by police after the event

  • Video footage of any seized property such as weapons, drugs hauls, stolen goods or clothing as shown to the jury in court

  • Any interview transcripts or statements that were read aloud to the court

  • Photographs or video footage of reconstructions of the crime

  • CCTV footage of the defendant (but this is subject to other copyright laws).

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