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Tuesday 2 September 2014
 
 
 

Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 - Model Plan Guidance to Element 6

Destruction arrangements

It is not always cost-effective or practical for an authority to securely destroy records in-house. Many authorities engage a contractor to destroy records and ensure the process is supervised and documented.
This is a compulsory element under the terms of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 Section 1 2(b)(iii)


In line with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland's (The Keeper) obligations under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (the Act) the following guidance is issued regarding an authority's destruction arrangements:

It is vital that an authority's records management plan (RMP) submitted for agreement with the Keeper confirms that the authority has developed or is in the process of developing proper destruction arrangements.

Using a commercial disposal firm for the disposal of records other than electronic records is recommended because their practices will be controlled, audited, and fully compliant with current environmental regulations (their business can only exist if they are). They may be able to issue a certificate of destruction that should be maintained with the disposal schedule as proof that the record has been destroyed. In the context of both Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation these sorts of procedures are the clear proof of controlled destruction of information that the Information Commissioner would be looking for in any disputed request which the institution was unable to answer.

Please note that the Keeper does not require authorities to provide a list of the records destroyed. However, the RMP should explain the destruction process in place (all formats) and evidence that this process is properly carried out.

The United Nations Archives and Records Management Section advises:

Destruction of records should be irreversible. This means that there is no reasonable risk of the information being recovered again. Failure to ensure the total destruction of records may lead to the unauthorised release of sensitive information. [footnote 1 ]

Evidence

Potential evidence of compliance would include a copy of the contract with a record destruction contractor (redacted for commercial-in-confidence purposes if necessary) or the authority's formal destruction policy, approved by the senior accountable officer. A retention schedule would not be considered evidence that record destruction is actually taking place in an authority.

Destruction arrangements are specifically mentioned in the Act (1(2)(b)(iii)). Therefore, the inclusion of evidence that appropriate processes are in place must be submitted to the Keeper.

Sample Documents Showing Destruction Arrangements

The following sample destruction schedules might give you an idea what information such a document might include and how it might be styled.

[East Ayrshire disposal statement - Acrobat 225KB, new window]

[Highlands and Islands disposal statement - Acrobat 222KB, new window]

[Dumfries and Galloway Council Destruction of Social Work, 'Social Care' Records - Acrobat 274KB, new window]

Scottish Borders Council Statement on the Disposal of Records (http://www.scotborders.gov.uk/info/709/records_management/456/statement_on_the_disposal_of_records)

Guidance Specific to destruction

The Section 61 Code (Freedom of Information) has a part relating to disposal you may wish to peruse:
[Section 61 2011 Part 7 2011 - Acrobat 229KB, new window]

[MAP statement about disposal destruction arrangements - Acrobat 222KB, new window]

[IRMS statement about disposal destruction arrangements - Acrobat 221KB, new window]

[Edinburgh University guidance about Best Practice in Disposing of Records - Acrobat 247KB, new window]

United Nations Principles of records destruction are mentioned as part of their overall disposal policy: (http://archives.un.org/ARMS/content/records-transfer-disposal)

NHS National Services Scotland 'Data Cleansing'
[NSS Data Cleansing Guidelines V1 0 (Final) - Acrobat 413KB, new window]


Complete Guidance Documents

Scottish Ministers' Code of Practice on records management by Scottish public authorities under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 -16 December 2011(Section 61) (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/FOI/18022/13383)

The Model Action Plan (http://www.nas.gov.uk/foi/modelActionPlan.asp)

Edinburgh University Records Management Advice (http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/records-management-section/records-management/staff-guidance)

The National Archives records management guidance (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/projects-and-work/records-management-guidance.htm)

Although the Keeper does not require authorities to list what records they choose to destroy, Glasgow Life have supplied the following which offers some suggestions that may be useful when making these decisions:
[Glasgow Life Appraisal and Disposal policy - Acrobat PDF 290KB, new window]

United Nations records management guidance (http://archives.un.org/ARMS/node/18)

If you encounter difficulties opening linked websites, PDF documents and RTF documents listed on this page, please contact us at publicrecords@nas.gov.uk.

Return to Model Plan

Return to Model Plan or read the complete guidance to Model Plan.


Footnotes:


1 . https://archives.un.org/

   
 
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