All organisations generate records which must be collected, maintained and revised over time, but public authorities have an additional responsibility to be accountable for their actions to the public. Therefore, their records must be accurate, reliable and capture authentic details of transactions and the policy for management of those records must protect the rights of privacy, confidentiality and security. This applies to the management of records in all formats or media, whether created or received.
Effective records management is essential to support compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Section 46 Records Management Code issued under the Act, and the Data Protection Act.
A public authority which does not know what information it holds, or which knows that it has it, but cannot find it, will not be able to respond properly to the requirements of the Act. Publication Schemes set out what information each public authority will make available to the public on a routine basis without waiting for a request to be received. If a class of information is in a Publication Scheme the public authority will be under a statutory duty to make it available according to the terms set out in the Scheme. Without good records management systems, public authorities will have difficulty meeting their commitment in their schemes.
A public authority that continues to hold personal information beyond its rightful use, because it does not have a robust mechanism for disposing of it at the correct time, or for "retiring" it for preservation at the Public Records Office, will fall foul of the Data Protection Act.
An integrated approach to records must aim to manage them through their whole life, from creation through to final disposal. The proper management of records will be the responsibility of everyone in the organisation, to the extent that they create them or use them in their daily work.
The Records Management Policy Statement and Retention and Disposal Schedule sets out how we intend to fulfil our statutory obligations under the Act and Section 46 Code.