Like most criminal trials in the UK, trials in the Old Bailey are open to the public. Court No. 2 has the peculiarity that the witness box is placed underneath the public gallery, thus ensuring the anonymity of witnesses in trials where it is needed. It is forbidden to take any form of note in writing, and no form of electronic equipment, including mobile phones, can be brought in. Walkmans, mobile phones, bags and radios are strictly banned from the public gallery for security reasons, and anyone unlucky enough to have their phone ring in Court is likely to find themselves sent down to the cells for contempt of court.
- Entrance to the public galleries for Courts 1 - 4 is in Newgate Street.
- Entrance to the public gallery for courts 5 - 20 (excluding 17) is in Warwick Passage, just to the right of the main entrance on Old Bailey itself.
- For access to Court 17 you will need to go through the main entrance. Sightlines in Court 17 are poor as the Public Gallery is next to the dock and not above proceedings as is every other court.
- The one benefit of viewing Court 17 is that you get to appreciate the beautiful architecture of the old part of the Old Bailey.
You can gain information about the trials in progress from:
There are toilets in the public gallery areas in both the old and new parts of the building.
There are occasionally long queues outside the entrance to the public galleries, and the security staff will give priority to the friends and family of those Defendants on trial, so do not be surprised if people are walking past you.
Viewing trials is popular with school trips from the UK & abroad as well as Law students, so if you anticipate that the trial you wish to view will be busy I would recommend arriving half an hour before either 10am or 2pm.