Blockbuster movies could share cinema with criminal trials

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Blockbuster movies and criminal trials could share the same cinema when it is allowed to reopen later this year.

The Vue cinema on Shiprow in Aberdeen is currently being used as a remote jury centre, with members socially distancing in the spacious rooms following proceedings at the nearby courtrooms on the big screen.

© Kenny Elrick / DCT Media
A remote jury centre inside the Vue cinema.

But with the Scottish Government announcing plans to allow cinemas to reopen on May 17, it had been unclear how this could affect movie fans and the courts.

However, while the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has confirmed the development will not affect its use of the venue, the Vue cinema has now also confirmed the jury centres will not impact its plans to reopen.

While the cinema has yet to confirm details of its plans for reopening, it’s possible the venue could be used simultaneously both to screen movies and beam live trials.

‘This will not impact on our plans to reopen to the public’

A Vue spokesman said: “We are working alongside the SCTS, in line with Scottish Government guidelines, to support jury services as they resume over the coming months.

“This will not impact on our plans to reopen to the public, and we look forward to sharing these plans in more detail soon.”

Meanwhile, a SCTS spokesman said: “Jury trials will not be impacted once cinemas are able to trade again.

‘No cinema-goers will be able to enter the secure area’

“The SCTS has full control of the screens used for the remote jury centre in Aberdeen from Mondays to Fridays.

“No cinema-goers will be able to enter the secure area where jury trials are being run.”

It is understood the SCTS has control over the screens being used for trials during the week between 8am and 6pm.

However, outside of those hours and at weekends the use of the screens is a matter for Vue.

Courts across the country all but ground to a halt at the outset of the pandemic, with Covid restrictions and social distancing proving difficult obstacles to overcome in courtrooms and buidlings.

Jury trials, with 15 members of the public sitting through proceedings before deciding if the accused is guilty or not, were one of the harder things to adapt to comply with social distancing.

As a result no jury trials were held in Aberdeen for almost a year, but in January the Evening Express revealed they would be restarting in the city after a deal was struck with the Vue to set up remote jury centres.

And in February the first such trial began in the Granite City, with the new technology running smoothly and solicitors and court officials adapting well to the set-up.

© Kenny Elrick / DCT Media
Inside the Vue’s remote jury centre.

The set-up seems jurors spaced out around the cinema seats, with new cameras in the courtroom beaming images of the trial live onto the big screen.

Additional microphones in the courtroom also link up with the cinema’s high-tech sound system to ensure jurors don’t miss a word of what’s being said.

A bank of high-quality cameras sits underneath the big screen, with one trained on each of the jurors, beaming their live picture back to the courtroom so officials there can see them.

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