Media access to prosecution materials

Further CPS guidance

On 4 November the CPS issued guidance on the types of prosecution materials that can be released to the media and on what conditions.

Further clarification became necessary after concern was expressed over an earlier statement by the CPS that it would no longer provide photographs and CCTV footage of criminals or transcripts and tapes of police interviews with suspects and witnesses for use in news broadcasts.

The CPS press release contains the following guidance:

“Prosecution material which is considered to be non-contentious and can usually be released to the media once it has been shown to a jury, or after a trial includes:

• Maps/photographs (including custody photos of defendants)/diagrams

• Videos showing scene of crime as recorded by police after the event

• Videos of property seized (e.g. weapons, clothing as shown to jury in court, drugs haul or stolen goods)

• Sections of transcripts of interviews/statements as read out (and therefore reportable, subject to any orders) in court

• Videos or photographs showing reconstructions of the crime

Prosecution material which may be released after consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service includes:

• CCTV footage of defendant (especially where it shows defendant and/or victim shortly before or during the crime) which has been viewed by jury and public in court

• Video and audio tapes of police interviews with defendants, victims and witnesses

• Victims’ statements

• Psychiatric or medical statements

The CPS is committed to the protection of witnesses, victims and the families of deceased victims, and will take into account any objection they may have to the release of material to the media. Equally the CPS remains committed to the principle of open justice and safeguarding the right of a defendant to a fair trial.”