Courts of Law

Date: 06.12.2016     Last updated: 28.03.2017 at 10.08
A guide to working in, outside or, around courts following a news story. If it’s a high profile court case where there is an increased risk of violence, then a risk assessment must be undertaken and additional security considered.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Possibility of a hostile reaction to your presence, verbal confrontation or violence.
  • Pushing, shoving, being struck by supporters of accused; objections to photographs or filming may be real, violent possibility. 
  • Be aware of sensitivities and plan for providing security as appropriate.
  • Being jostled for position by fellow reporters or crews.
  • Risk of attack from more than one source (i.e. rivals of those accused).
  • Being struck by objects or vehicles rapidly leaving or arriving at court.
  • Working from height.
  • Possible exposure to trauma, long days, weather exposure and lack of welfare facilities.

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • Editorial Guidelines apply when reporting on crime.

Control Measures

General Controls

  • Research the cases in court that day to help anticipate possible risk factors. Is the accused from a big family or tight community or part of a high profile case?
  • Where violence is likely, shots of people entering or leaving building should be made from a safe position.
  • Undertake a recce if you have not been to the court before. Plan the filming /recording location on recce or on arrival. Plan for an easy departure.
  • Withdraw to a safe location if threatened with violence.
  • Presenters and broadcast equipment operators must make themselves aware of slip, trip and fall hazards around them before getting involved in action.
  • Consider the use of a second person when working in scrums. Assist each other by back-watching other team members.
  • Don't present any risk to the general public, children, elderly, or disabled people by your presence. Ensure cables and equipment do not increase any risks to slipping, tripping or falls.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing if you might be there a long time in hot/cold weather. 
  • Familiarise yourself with the building, routes in out, toilets, snack bars, vending machines, stairways, bottlenecks and key courtroom staff offices.
  • Check the building rules about smoking, use of mobile telephones, emergency arrangements if appropriate.
  • Plan your travel route to and from court location and have parking or pick up arrangements that include an alternative.
  • Be aware of exits that could be used by vehicles leaving quickly. Choose positions carefully to avoid being struck.
  • Stay on pavements if possible and use high visibility jackets (available from Safety Equipment Stores - see Recommended Links) if operating in road or off pavements, particularly in low light conditions.

Division Specific Issues

Journalism (maybe useful to others)

  • There maybe occasions where a pool arrangement for sharing material with other broadcasters. Consideration should be made to their requirements and working together with third parties including swapping risk assessments if required.
  • Use Journalism Portal for recording use of JSG on deployment sheet.

FAQs/Did You Know?

No FAQs/Did you know items.

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About this site

This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.


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