Many would watch criminal trials on TV

March 03, 2014, 1:57 PM GMT+0

A significant minority (39%) would watch television coverage of UK criminal trials if they could

South African legal history is made today, as parts of the trial of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp are broadcast live on television.

South Africa joins America, where trials are regularly televised, and may too be joined by the UK, whose biggest news providers – BBC, ITN and Sky – have written to the Prime Minister urging him to introduce legislation to allow TV cameras in court.

So far the plea has been unmet, but new YouGov research finds significant demand for televised criminal trials.

Although most people (51%) would not watch television coverage of criminal trials, a significant group (39%) say they would. 10% don’t know.

Proponents of televised trials say the increased transparency builds trust in and understanding of the judicial system, helping the public to feel that justice has been done. Some, however, argue that the presence of cameras can make witnesses wary of testifying, and the intervention of the media can make the trials unfair.

See the full poll results

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