Records Management Policy

1.0       Introduction

Good records management is at the heart of the Modernising Government agenda. Section 224 of the Local Government Act 1972 requests the Council to make proper arrangements with respect to any documents that belong to or are in the custody of the Council or any of its officers.

In deciding its priorities and objectives as set out in its Business Plan 2004-2010, Breckland Council sought the views and expectations of the private, public and voluntary sectors within the district.  One of the key issues identified was the need for the Council to provide better access to information. 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) creates a new legislative framework for access to all public sector information and places a duty on public authorities to publish information in accordance with 'publication schemes'.  The FOIA also amends the Public Records Act 1958 and places obligations on public authorities to maintain their records in accordance with the provisions of a Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under Section 46 of the Act.  In order for Breckland Council to respond to a request for information in compliance with the Code, it will be necessary to have effective records management procedures in place. 

In developing this policy, reference has been made to the Public Record Office's Model Action Plan for developing records management compliant with the Code of Practice on Records Management

This policy should be read in conjunction with the Council's ICT Strategy and ICT Security Policy, Data Protection Policy and Freedom of Information Policy.

2.0       Aim

The aim of this policy is to support the objectives of the Freedom of Information legislation by setting out the practices Breckland Council will follow in relation to recorded information which is created, stored, managed, retained and/or disposed of. 

This policy will be available to all internal and external stakeholders and will be on the Council's website www.breckland.gov.uk.

3.0       Scope

Records can be defined as "information that is written on paper or stored on computer so that it can be used in the future".  Records covered by this policy include all records (irrespective of the medium on or in which the information is carried) which belong to or are in the custody of the Council or any of its officers and members. This policy will apply to all Breckland Council officers, members, contractors, partners, consultants and service providers who have access to the Council's records.

Breckland Council's archives include:

  • records created by the authority and its predecessors in the course of its business;
  • 'public records' held on behalf of central government (eg register of electors); and
  • records given to or purchased by the authority, or deposited with the authority on indefinite loan.

Failure of a contractor/partner/consultant/service provider to comply could lead to legal action and the cancellation of a contract. 

4.0       Objectives

Breckland Council will: 

  • ensure that information is created, stored, managed, retained and/or disposed of in conformity with the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on Records Management, as follows:
  • secure a coordinated approach to the management of information
  • ensure relevant staff understand their responsibilities and acquire the necessary skills
  • ensure business information is managed effectively throughout the organisation by providing an authoritative statement on the management of records
  • ensure records staff are appropriately qualified, trained or experienced and that all staff understand the needs for record management
  • ensure information can be identified and retrieved when required by providing a well-structured record keeping system
  • ensure authentic records are maintained over time by providing appropriate protection of records throughout their life cycle
  • ensure selection and disposal decisions can be explained by careful documentation of the appraisal and disposal of records
  • ensure access decisions are documented so that they are consistent, and can be explained and referred to
  • identify whether information is being managed effectively through monitoring of compliance with record management policies and procedures

5.0       Policy Statement

Breckland Council will increase the access given to individuals to recorded information to promote openness and transparency of decision making by the Council, by ensuring that information is easily retrievable and properly documented.  In accordance with all statutory requirements, the appropriate technical, organisational and human resource elements will be made available so the right information is:

  • captured, stored, retrieved, and destroyed or preserved according to need;
  • fully exploited to meet current and future needs, and to support change; and
  • accessible to those who need to make use of it.

6.0       Records Management

Records created or received by Breckland Council in the transaction of business are the property of the Council, regardless of the physical location of the record.  Such records shall be used solely for the conduct of the Council's business and not for any other purpose, unless otherwise agreed by the Monitoring Officer.  The provision of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) will be adhered to in relation to personal data.

Breckland Council will develop a corporate records management system based on the Model Action Plan for Developing Records Management Compliant with the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice Under Section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which focuses on how information is acquired and how it should be organised and retrieved so that responses to FOI requests can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

The corporate records management system will provide a framework for supporting standards, procedures and guidelines for the keeping, management and destruction of the Council's records (both electronic and paper-based) which document its principal activities.

Breckland Council will hold information as long as necessary to enable it to perform its functions.  Every effort will be made to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date and that inaccuracies are corrected quickly. 

7.0       Responsibilities

Overall responsibility for the records management lies with the Council's Corporate Management Team who, in conjunction with the Monitoring Officer will:

  • be aware of the authority's current compliance status with the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on Records Management;
  • identify and monitor problem areas and risk, and recommend solutions;
  • promote clear and effective procedures and offer guidance to staff on record management issues;
  • be responsible for the provision of cascade record management training for staff and members;
  • develop best practice guidelines;
  • carry out compliance checks to ensure adherence with this policy.

Day to day responsibility for administration and compliance with this policy is delegated to Service Managers, who will:

  • monitor compliance with this policy and associated procedures;
  • implement security requirements and access rights to documents and records;
  • coordinate the proactive development of the Publication Scheme, in liaison with the FOI Officer, the Communications Officer and the web authors.

The Data Protection Officer will provide advice and guidance in respect of compliance with the DPA.

The Freedom of Information Officer will provide advice and guidance in respect of compliance with FOIA requests. 

Access to Information Representatives will be identified in all Service Areas and will, together with the Monitoring Officer, be responsible for ensuring that this policy is implemented.

All staff and members must comply with this policy and are responsible for ensuring that:

  • all information they hold, regardless of the medium, is kept secure, and
  • personal information is not disclosed deliberately or accidentally either orally or in writing to any unauthorised third party.

8.0       Publication Scheme

As required by the FOIA, Breckland Council has adopted and maintains a Publication Scheme as a guide to the information that it holds which is publicly available.  Any individual or organisation who requests it will be informed whether the Council holds the information and, subject to exceptions, be supplied with it.  The Publication Scheme is available on the Council's website at www.breckland.gov.uk

9.0       Complaints

Breckland Council's 'Compliments and Complaints Procedure' (available on the Council's website) will be applied in the event of any complaint received about requests for access to information under the FOIA.  If the complainant is still unhappy, they will be informed of their right to complain to the Information Commissioner, who will decide whether the request has been handled properly.

10.0     Policy Review

This policy will be managed and reviewed annually.  Reviews will be subject to scrutiny and, from time to time, updates and re-issues will be circulated.  However, the policy will be reviewed sooner if a weakness in the policy is highlighted, in the case of new risks, and/or changes in legislation. 

 

Last updated - January 2012

Last updated: 16/11/2017 09:26:10