1. Records and records management
Like any organisation, Hampshire County Council is dependent on the availability of accurate and reliable records for the effective and efficient conduct of its business.
Records have been defined in the International Standard on Records Management (ISO 15489-1: 2001 Part 1) as 'information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business'.
Records are vital to:
Records can be in traditional formats such as files and papers, but can also include maps, plans and other non-standard paper documents, as well as electronic records in all formats, including computer files, email and databases, and video, audio and CCTV recordings.
Effective records management is crucial to ensure the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records.
2. Freedom of information and records management
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 recognises the importance of records management and that sound record-keeping practices are essential for compliance with it. Under Section 46 of the Act, the Lord Chancellor has issued a code of practice on the management of records, providing guidance to public authorities 'on the keeping, management and destruction of their records'.
Paragraph (iii) of that code states:
'Any freedom of information legislation is only as good as the quality of the records to which it provides access. Such rights are of little use if reliable records are not created in the first place, if they cannot be found when needed or if the arrangements for their eventual archiving or destruction are inadequate.'
In order for Hampshire County Council to meet legislative requirements relating to records and records management, particularly under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 but also under the Data Protection Act 1998, it is essential to ensure the proper handling of its information and records, including the implementation of best practice in records management.
Hampshire County Council to comply with the Code must:
Standards for Records Management in Hampshire County Council have been drawn based on the Lord Chancellor's Code.
3. Hampshire County Council Records Management Service
Within Hampshire County Council the records management function is led by the Records Management Service based in Hampshire Record Office, within the Department of Recreation and Heritage.
The Records Management Service:
The Service is unable to provide records management for external organisations or individuals.
The Service is managed and staffed as follows:
It is a corporate requirement for departments to use and refer to the Records Management Service. Records should be kept for the periods laid down in retention schedules drawn up by the Service and agreed with departments. They should be disposed of in accordance with the schedules.
4. Hampshire County Council staff roles and responsibilities
Departmental records management representatives
Each department within the County Council has a representative or representatives who act as a link between the Records Management Service and their department. These representatives should have an overview of record-keeping within their department, and assist the Records Management Service in promoting and achieving good records management practice there.
Heads of service and business units
Heads of service or business units throughout Hampshire County Council are responsible for ensuring that their staff create and maintain records as an integral part of their work and in accordance with established policies, standards and procedures. They should have mechanisms in place to monitor compliance with those policies, standards and procedures. In particular heads of service or business units are responsible for ensuring that retention policies and record-keeping procedures agreed with the Records Management Service are implemented.
All staff create, receive and keep records as part of their daily work, and should do so in accordance with established policies, standards and procedures. They are accountable to their supervisors for compliance with those policies, standards and procedures. In particular:
Note: this document forms part of the corporate Freedom of Information manual, 2005