THERE are a few things you should know before visiting the Old Bailey.
There are two parts to the building, old and new. Entrance to the public gallery for the old part is in Newgate Street. This building contains the two most important courts: Court One and Court Two. Court One has witnessed some of the most notorious defendants in British criminal history. The trial of Ian Huntley, who was jailed for the murder of two 10-year-old schoolgirls in Soham, Cambridgeshire, was held in this court. The Kray Twins and The Yorkshire Ripper also appeared in Court One. However because the court is old, has small seats and not much leg room (especially for the Jury) judges often move to the more modern courts in the new building, which are more comfortable.
Court Two is the high-security court, and terrorist trials and the like often take place here.
The other courts in the old building are Three, Four, 17 and 18. The courts, and therefore the public galleries, are on two floors. Courts One, Two, Three and Four are on the upper floor.
The new building can be accessed from the road called Old Bailey, from which the courthouse takes its name. The public galleries are accessed from Warwick Passage. The new building has three floors and houses 12 courts. On the ground floor are Courts 13, 14, 15 and 16; on the second floor are Courts Five, Six, Seven and Eight, and on the third floor, Courts Nine, 10, 11 and 12. Court 12 is often used for long fraud trials.
We have been asked to point out that strict security measures make it impossible for visitors to go into the main body of the building. You will only have access to the public galleries to view trials. (It is a bit sitting in the balcony seats of a small theatre.) Admittance to the galleries is free, as the Court is a public building. You may have to queue to gain admittance to a particular case if the public gallery is full. There is no wheelchair access to the Old Bailey public galleries. However wheelchairs are allowed into the main body of the building and this can be arranged if given prior notice.
No children under the age of 14 are allowed into the building. Under-16’s must be accompanied by an adult. We also suggest that you bring some sort of identification with you – passport or driving licence etc – as these may be required to enter high security-risk trials. You could be denied entry without them.
Cameras, large bags (rucksacks), recording equipment, mobile phones, sharp objects (pen knives and nail scissors), food and drink and writing materials are also banned from the Court. (The x-ray machines will pick up items and you will then be asked to leave the premises. Mobiles, cameras etc are regarded as a security risk.) The Court has no facilities where such items can be left. A nearby travel agents will look after property for a small fee. As a result, we do urge that luggage is kept to a bare minimum, and if you are coming by coach or minibus, we advise you leave as much there as possible. We do not accept responsibility for loss or theft of property.
Visitors to the public galleries are requested to dress appropriately (no vests or shorts for men; no low-cut tops or short skirts for women) or entry to the court building may be refused. Smart casual dress is advised.
Please note: We cannot be held responsible for last-minute changes to the court lists. On some occasions, barristers are not prepared on the day and cases are delayed or postponed. Therefore, cases are sometimes transferred from another courthouse to fill the empty court. Members of the public are not guaranteed entry to any court as a result of paying for our presentation or court information. This is left in the hands of the security staff on the doors, who are totally independent from us. If visitors are disruptive etc, they could be asked to leave the Courthouse; we urge that all parties respect the Court restrictions and guidelines.
The address for the court house is Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London EC4M 7EH. The sitting times for the court are 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm (approx). The court does not sit on bank holidays and during Easter and Christmas holiday periods. At Christmas the court can be shut for as long as two weeks, depending when Christmas Day falls. At Easter the holiday period is usually around four or five days.
The nearest Underground station is St Paul’s, on the Central Line. It is less than five minutes’ walk from the Court. Other nearby Tube stations are Blackfriars, on the District and Circle Lines, and Farringdon, on the Circle and Hammersmith lines. The nearest over-ground station is City Thameslink. There is also a river-bus service from Blackfriars Pier, opposite Blackfriars station.