Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre policies

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre has been awarded Archive Service Accreditation. Archive Service Accreditation is the UK standard for archive services. It defines good practice and agreed standards for archive services across the UK.

Archive Appraisal Policy

Introduction

Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre collects preserves and makes accessible historic archive collections relating to the London Borough of Bexley - and local and family history resources relating to London Borough of Bexley.

Background

It is necessary for Bexley Local Studies & Archives to carry out appraisal in order to maintain control of the archive material held and to ensure that only the items most useful and relevant to research are retained.

This policy operates in conjunction with the Bexley Local Studies & Archives Collections Management and Access policy.

Scope

This policy applies to all archive collections stored, managed and maintained by Bexley Local Studies & Archives. It applies to collections owned by the London Borough of Bexley as well as those deposited under long term loan/deposit agreements.

This policy does not apply to material that falls within the Local Studies or Museum collections.

This policy covers the appraisal of recently deposited material and the re-appraisal of existing collections.

Definition of archival appraisal

Appraisal is the process of selecting records of continuing archival value for permanent preservation and identifying those of no or little value as archival records so that the latter may be disposed of.

Appraisal is an essential collections management activity.

Purpose of archival appraisal

It is not practicable, in terms of storage space and intellectual control, to retain all records as archive. As a result a strict approach to collection management is required.

Carrying out appraisal on records when appropriate is a key part of collection management as it ensures that records which have long-term or high archival value are identified and preserved while records that are not of archival value can be disposed of in a controlled and consistent manner.

Aims of archival appraisal

The aims of this archival appraisal policy are:

  • to determine and select those records which have the highest archival value in terms of their evidential, informational or historical importance
  • to avoid duplication in the selection of archival material
  • to develop consistent archival appraisal decisions within the service
  • to support the objectives and collection themes of the Collection Development Policy.

Principles

Appraisal will be carried out within the following legal framework:

  • Freedom of Information Act
  • Public Records legislation
  • Adoption legislation (as relating to local government and public records holding concerning care of children)
  • Contract law
  • Financial regulations
  • Data Protection

Procedures

Appraisal will be carried out by qualified archival professionals, or by para- professionals under the supervision of a qualified archivist.

For new deposits and where practicable initial basic appraisal will be performed as part of the accession process to identify material known not to have a high archival value before it enters the collections.

For existing uncatalogued collections and new deposits full appraisal will be performed as part of our cataloguing process. Depending on the size and complexity of the material appraisal may be performed on either a high (series level) or low (file level) basis.

For existing catalogued collections and where there is no evidence of appraisal having occurred when originally catalogued retrospective appraisal will be performed.

The appraisal process will use relevant guidelines to assess the overall evidential, informational and historical value of the records including;

  • Bexley Council Corporate Retention Schedule
  • guidelines published by The National Archives and other relevant government departments to appraise public records
  • guidelines published by lead professionals (the Information and Records Management Society and the Archives and Records Association) to appraise records created by local government, schools and businesses
  • other nationally recognised best practice guidelines, such as the Church of England’s records management guides for parish records
  • guidelines developed in-house for appraising records created by private individuals, families, societies and businesses

Recording appraisal decisions

Appraisal decisions made after a collection has been accessioned or catalogued will be recorded in the archive catalogue at the appropriate level.

All paperwork recording the decision making surrounding appraisal will be permanently retained.

Disposal of material

All disposal decisions will be carried out according to the deposit status of the record.

Records for which ownership was not granted to Bexley Local Studies & Archives will be offered back to the depositor unless they cannot be traced.

If appropriate, records may be offered and transferred to a relevant repository. All unwanted material will be destroyed confidentially.

Policy information

This policy was published in January 2017 and will be formally reviewed after a period of five years. Please contact us with any feedback relating to this policy.

Document Title Archive Appraisal Policy
Version Number Version 1.0
Dated 27th January 2017
Approved and Authorised by Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure
Author(s) Local Studies and Archives Manager
Date of Last Review N/A
Date of Next Formal Review Jan 2022
Contact Simon McKeon, Local Studies and Archives Manager

Archive Collections Development Policy

Introduction

This document explains the background to the archive collections at Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre, our position on the acquisition and disposal of archive material, and outlines the key areas in which we seek to build our archive collections.

Our collections

Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre collects preserves and makes accessible historic archive collections relating to the London Borough of Bexley - and local and family history resources relating to London Borough of Bexley.

Our collections are used by residents, academics, genealogists, the formal education sector, businesses and private researchers.

We are aware that there are gaps in our collections and that some sectors and communities are not currently well represented. In addition we are addressing the challenge of effectively and efficiently capturing born-digital records and ensuring their ongoing preservation.

How we collect

We currently acquire collections through:

  • passive collecting (where material is offered to us)
  • routine collecting (transfers from our parent body, British Records Association and existing depositors)
  • groups taking part in Heritage Lottery Fund projects and
  • reactive collecting (in response to local change) Our collections are deposited as either a;
  • gift (where ownership and where applicable intellectual property rights are transferred to us)
  • permanent deposit (where records are in our physical custody but ownership is retained by the depositor)
  • transfer from our parent body, or from Church of England parishes
  • purchase
  • through long term loans with a minimum loan period of 10 years,

We do not accept material for deposit without clear and valid title of ownership.

Material will only be accepted provided it will be open for public access either after processing or after a fixed period of time in consultation with the depositor.

We maintain contact with our depositors through the name, address and contact details given at the time of deposit.

We are in regular contact with our regular deposits including Church of England parishes to ensure that records are transferred to us according to legislative deadlines.

What we collect

We will consider the collection of archival material which provides evidence and/or information on every aspect of life in the borough of Bexley including records of local government and other statutory bodies in Bexley, all religious denominations, businesses, clubs and societies, individuals, families and estates, businesses, political parties, trade unions and schools.

We aim to collect records representing all interests and opinions and seek to represent and include records from all sections of our community.

We will collect a comprehensive archive documenting the decision-making process and most significant activities of our parent authority, the London Borough of Bexley and its predecessors.

We will only collect and preserve material that is unique and of long term historical value.

There are no date limits on material eligible for collection and we accept records in any physical form or media provided we feel that we have the capabilities to preserve and make them available to the public.

Collecting priorities

The following areas have been identified as weaknesses in our holdings, and we are therefore keen to receive materials in the following categories:

  • Records in digital format created by the London Borough of Bexley
  • Records of non-Anglican religious denominations
  • Records Sports and Cultural Groups
  • Records of recently created school academies
  • Records of recent immigrant communities to Bexley

Limitations

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre actively encourages the deposit of film archives but aims to transfer them to the London Screen Archive/London Metropolitan Archives for specialist preservation.

What we do not collect

  • Material with no link to the London Borough of Bexley or its predecessor bodies.
  • Material which duplicates existing holdings
  • Material which duplicates holdings of other repositories
  • Readily available published material (unless relating to the Borough), including books and articles available online
  • Material relating to routine activities, e.g. Finance, IT, maintenance, catering
  • Photocopies or facsimiles of archival material

Such items may, however, be retained if they form an integral part of an archival collection.

We take into account the collecting policies of other archive services collecting in the same or related areas and will consult with such services where conflicts of interest may arise.

Appraisal

In order to ensure that we collect and preserve archival material of the highest value, we will routinely perform an archival appraisal on all new deposits according to our appraisal policy and procedures.

In some instances, the suitability of materials previously acquired by the service may come into question. Should this occur they will be subject to our appraisal procedure and where necessary, removed from our collections.

Material which has been identified for disposal will be transferred to a more appropriate repository, returned to the depositor if possible, or confidentially destroyed.

Policy information

This policy was published in January 2017 and will be formally reviewed after a period of one year. Please contact us with any feedback relating to this policy.

Document Title Archive Collections Development Policy
Version Number Version 1.0
Dated 27th January 2017
Approved and Authorised by Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure
Author(s) Local Studies and Archives Manager
Date of Last Review N/A
Date of Next Formal Review Jan 2018
Contact Simon McKeon, Local Studies and Archives Manager

Archives Loan Procedure

Original documents may be loaned to external organisations for exhibition, conservation or reprographic purposes. They may also be temporarily transferred back to the original depositor for administrative use.

Loan of original documents must be approved by the Local Studies and Archive Manager.

Loan of original documents will only be approved if:

  • the item is in good enough condition to withstand the intended use
  • the item is not needed by Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre for its own display or other use and has not already been approved for loan elsewhere
  • the borrower can show that standards of care at the temporary location are similarly compliant with BS 4971:2017 as those of Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre
  • except in cases where the borrower is the original depositor, the borrower has insurance to cover the cost of restoration or replacement if possible in the event of damage to the item while it is in their care. Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre will specify an insurance value and can ask for proof of insurance cover.
  • the borrower displays the document in a secure archive standard display case
  • documents shall be secured from theft or damage by appropriate barriers, and 24-hour physical and/or electronic security.
  • the building in which the document is to be housed shall have in place systems to protect from fire, smoke and flood damage.

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre encourage the use of facsimiles for displays.

Borrowers will be asked to complete a Loan Form, detailing the date on which they will return the item. Transport to collect and return the item will be at the borrower’s expense. Items should be packed securely to prevent damage e.g. from movement within the box during transit.

The loan will be recorded on the archive catalogue system.

Archive Collections Management and Access Policy

1. Introduction

Mission statement

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre collects preserves and makes accessible historic archive collections relating to the London Borough of Bexley - and local and family history resources relating to London Borough of Bexley

About the service

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre is funded and managed as part of the London Borough of Bexley’s Library Service.

Legal and Statutory Status

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre seeks to abide by all current archival legislation, international and national standards and best practice.

The London Borough of Bexley is obliged to make proper arrangements for the care of administrative records created by the authority under section 224 of the Local Government Act, 1972. Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre holds and makes accessible historic records created by the Council.

The London Borough of Bexley is obliged under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons in the area that want to make use of it.

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre has been appointed by the Bishops of Rochester and Southwark as the Diocesan Record Office to hold non-current parochial records created within the London Borough of Bexley under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure, 1978 (amended 1992). All Church of England records are deposited as a long term loan. Under the measure, Bexley Local Studies and Archives is responsible for regularly surveying records in parochial custody within the London Borough of Bexley.

Plans and Procedures

This policy is supported by internal strategies, plans and procedures.

Feedback

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre welcomes feedback on the service, will respond to all feedback received and where appropriate will act upon it.

The service participates in the annual Archives and Records Association survey of archive users as well as the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) archives and library surveys.

2. Collections Development

Scope of our collections

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre seeks to collect records and published works which reflect all aspects of life for individuals and is representative of the wide range of institutions and organisations found within the Borough. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Records of the London Borough of Bexley and those of its predecessor authorities.
  • Records of Church of England parishes in the Dioceses of Rochester and Southwark that fall within the boundaries of the London Borough of Bexley.
  • Records of other religious denominations and places of worship in the Borough.
  • Records of organisations, businesses, individuals, societies, public and private institutions and other activities which record the history and life of the London Borough of Bexley.

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre does not seek to represent any particular historical, sectarian or other viewpoint, but to reflect as objectively as possible all aspects of Bexley’s past and present.

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre will not collect records which fall outside the stated geographical area of the London Borough of Bexley and its predecessor authorities, unless forming an integral part of a collection which cannot be divided without loss of archival value, or relating primarily to a Bexley community.

What we collect

The following criteria apply to both newly deposited and existing material.

  • We seek to collect material from within or relating to the geographical area of the London Borough of Bexley as at 1 April 1965.
  • Records and published works will be considered for selection regardless of their age.
  • Records will be selected for permanent preservation by qualified archivists in line with our appraisal policy. Archival appraisal concentrates on the historical value of a record, any value for business purposes having been superseded when the collection was deposited in the archive. Historical value can be broken down into two areas: evidential value – the way the record documents the history, structure and functions of an organisation; and informational value or value in providing research material on persons, places and subjects. Records selected for permanent preservation in the archive will be those which show the significance of the functions and activities of organisations.

Records will be selected using the guidelines set out in appropriate retention schedules including:

  • Bexley Council Corporate Retention Schedule
  • Records Management guides created by the Church of England Record Centre.
  • Part 2 of the Department of Health Records Management Code of Practice
  • The National Archives appraisal guidelines and advice

Published works will be selected by the Local Studies and Archives Manager and Local Studies Librarian.

Records will be considered for selection irrespective of media, with the exception of the material listed under what we don’t collect. Where appropriate, we will work in partnership with other organisations for certain formats (i.e. Film - London Screen Archive)

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre prefers to collect material that is as comprehensive and complete as possible. Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre does not split up archival collections, but will accept material that has previously been separated from its original grouping where it is not possible to restore the original grouping.

On rare occasions it may be appropriate only to acquire a sample of records from a collection. Sampling will be performed in line Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre’s appraisal policy.

What we don’t collect

We do not select material which falls under the following criteria;

  • Artefacts, specimens and other three dimensional objects within the collecting policies of local museums. Only where there is a special relationship between an artefact and the associated archive material will Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre seek the material together.
  • Frames, tin trunks, deed chests and other containers. These will be disposed of by Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre (with permission) or returned to the owner.
  • Works of art, which fall in the collecting policies of local museums and art galleries. Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre will maintain close links with such institutions to avoid conflict of interest over topographical views by notable artists or which are of particular artistic merit which may fall within the collecting policies of both Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre and the museums and galleries.
  • Records which are duplicates of material already held by us.
  • Records recording information which is adequately recorded or summarised in another form (such as day-to-day accounting records where audited annual accounts have been prepared).
  • Records still in use by the creating body.
  • Records that belong more appropriately in another repository.
  • Records in poor condition.

How we collect material

We acquire material generally through four means;

  1. Assessing and accepting material offered to us
  2. Through accruals from our parent organisation and existing depositors
  3. By responding to local needs (i.e. business closures)
  4. Through suggestions from users and non-users.

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre prefers to acquire material as donations, gifts, or bequests.

However material can also be acquired through long term loans with a minimum loan period of 10 years, or in exceptional circumstances where the records contain outstanding importance to the Borough, by purchase.

In cases where material is loaned, donations towards the cost of preservation materials and towards cataloguing may be sought.

Material will not be acquired if there are doubts as to its legal ownership.

Material will only be accepted by Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre provided it will be open for public access either after processing by staff or after a fixed period of time in consultation with the depositor.

Material offered with access restrictions or in poor condition will be assessed on an individual basis to ensure that its research potential justifies its acquisition.

All depositors of material must sign our formal terms of deposit agreement. All depositors will receive a receipt describing their material.

Information about recently deposited material

We annually report new accessions to the National Archives as part of their Accessions to Repositories Survey http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/accessions/ Information will also published on our pages at Archives and local history.

3. Collections Information

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre gathers and maintains information about collections including;

Accessions

We maintain an accession register on our archive management system. The maintenance of accessions information allows us to ensure the archival integrity of our collections.

For each accession we will record the following;

  • the depositor,
  • the terms of deposit,
  • the content and context of a deposit
  • authorities regarding weeding the material.

Each accession is given a unique reference number, comprising of the year of deposit and a sequential number eg. 2017/01, 2017/02 etc. which links to its catalogue entries once the accession has been catalogued.

Personal data regarding accessions will not be published on our online catalogue or by other means.

Where material has been deposited on loan we will maintain contact with the depositor, including re-establishing the terms of deposit.

We will retain deposit and related supporting documents.

Catalogue information

All archive material will be catalogued in accordance with international and national archive standards.

The intellectual arrangement of material will be performed by a qualified archivist.

Some elements of the cataloguing process may be undertaken by local studies and archives volunteers under the instruction and direct supervision of a qualified archivist.

All published material will be catalogued in accordance with international and national library standards.

Where legacy catalogues may not meet these standards, work will be undertaken to improve these catalogues so that they adhere to the mandatory minimum standard recommendations.

Where catalogues exist only on paper, work will be undertaken to convert them to the electronic archive or library catalogue.

Where appropriate, we will incorporate user-generated content in our catalogues.

Prioritisation

In order to address our cataloguing backlog, all archival material will be measured against in-house priority criteria. The outcome of this prioritisation will inform our current and future cataloguing priorities.

We will identify cataloguing projects and explore external funding opportunities to assist with cataloguing.

4. Collection Care

Archive Preservation Principles

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre will endeavour to adhere to the following archive preservation principles:

  • Archives will be preserved in perpetuity.
  • All aspects an archive’s original format, their historical, textual, pictorial, physical and digital nature will be preserved wherever possible.
  • Preventative conservation measures will be employed to protect and preserve collection and individual items.
  • When it is not possible to preserve an aspect of an archive’s original format, details of about the original format and action taken will be thoroughly documented.
  • Original material will be made accessible or a surrogate copy of the item provided (in the case of high demand/ badly degraded/ extremely fragile items). Surrogates images may be available online. The original item will be protected from further deterioration in the best possible conditions.

Preventative Conservation

Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre will endeavour to implement preventative conservation measures as listed below.

Provision of Suitable Building Conditions

Archives and local studies material are stored at BLSAC strong room, located at the Central Library building and offsite in Sidcup. These facilities offer security from theft, fire and flood to standards that aspire to meet PD5454:2012.

The temperature and humidity of the archive store will be continuously monitored, regulated and kept in accordance with the standards set out in PD5454:2012.

Fluctuations in the temperature and humidity in the archive store will be kept to a minimum.

The archive store will be kept clean and necessary steps will be taken to keep the store free of insects and pests.

New acquisition and incoming material are inspected before being allowed into the main storage areas to ensure that the accidental introduction of pests is prevented. If pests are discovered in the collection these items are quarantined until they are treated and all risk of contagion has passed. If this is not possible they are removed from the collection and under the terms of the Collection Agreement may be disposed of.

Members of staff are trained to clean storage and display areas in a way that is not detrimental to the collections.

Storage of traditional media (paper, parchment, photographs)

All newly deposited archives will be wrapped with Archival quality paper or card as appropriate and stored in archival quality boxes with well-fitting lids and non-rusting staples.

The ongoing packaging programme will work towards having all archives stored in appropriate archive quality storage.

Photographs will be stored in clear inert polyester. When necessary archives are tied loosely in bundles with unbleached cotton tape. Volumes with damaged spines and/or loose pages are tied with unbleached cotton tape until conservation work can be performed.

Where appropriate archive material on display will be in secure cases which are been positioned to avoid vibration, strong light sources and near sources of hot or cold.

Storage of digital records

During the accessioning of digital records, all necessary representation information (e.g. format) will be captured in the accession record to ensure the data can be interpreted by future users.

Only electronic data in archival accepted formats will be accessioned. If records are deposited that are not in archival

Electronic data will be stored in at least duplicate, normally triplicate.

At least one version of the electronic data will be stored on a server which backed up at least once a week.

Bexley Local Studies and Archives will work towards developing a digital preservation strategy following The National Archives recommended model.

Storage of film based material

Moving image material requires cold storage facilities at the London Metropolitan Archives.

Digital versions will be made of moving image archives ensuring that the originals are retained

Handling and use

Everyone engaged in handling archive material will be fully trained in the appropriate technique and procedures. Standards in handling materials and in preservation techniques will be maintained and regularly reviewed in the light of best practice in the profession.

New researchers are given induction before being asked to sign to confirm their understanding of rules and being able to use the public search room.

Trolleys are provided for the transportation of item from the storage to access areas. Book supports and appropriate light weights are supplied for use by searchers.

Security

Public access to original documents is limited to designated areas, which is closely supervised by staff.

Access to storage area is restricted, by the use of door codes, to LSAC staff.

Documents are only produced in the search room or for exhibition in accordance with the standard document request procedure.

The location of any item removed from storage is recorded at all times. Any suspected loss or theft will be reported and investigated immediately.

Preparation for emergencies

We have a full comprehensive Emergency Plan, which outlines the measures adopted to reduce the risks of an emergency situation and, should one occur, those for immediate reaction and recovery. The Emergency Plan is regularly reviewed an updated, at least annually.

We carry out Business Continuity planning as part of the wider Bexley Continuity Strategy.

Bexley Local Studies and Archives is committed to reducing the risks of an emergency situation occurring.

5. Access and Engagement

We seek to abide by both the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998 when granting access to records under its care.

Whilst providing access, we will balance the provision of access with the need to preserve archives for future generations.

Access to view materials in person at Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre is free of charge.

In order to provide reliable retrieval of archive and local studies material, it is recommended that all users contact us in advance of their visit.

Local Studies and archive staff will be available to facilitate access and provide access to our finding aids.

All users requiring on-site access to archive materials must be a member of Bexley Library Service. Membership is free and available to users resident outside the London Borough Bexley.

All users requiring on-site access to archive materials must agree to the users agreement

We will, where circumstances allow, provide advance notice of closures.

Local studies and archive material is available during the central library’s opening hours which currently is one late night a week and Saturdays.

Remote enquiries

A catalogue of archive material is available online via the Bexley Local Studies and Archive website (www.bexley.gov.uk archives)

Local Studies material is catalogued on the Bexley Library Service website.

Bexley Local Studies and Archives is committed to providing user guides online via the website as staff resources permit.

Email, letter, telephone and social media enquiries will be responded to with within 5 working days.

Specific enquiries regarding the nature and scope of records held and how to gain access to our material will be answered free of charge.

15 minutes research will be provided free of charge after which charges will be made for enquiries requiring research in line with our fees and charges.

Promotion

We aim to publish information about our collections in a variety of different ways including through a variety of platforms including;

We aim to provide access to material through informal and formal learning opportunities.

Reprographics

Reprographics are permitted at our discretion. Reasons will always be given when copying is not possible.

All reprographics must be carried out within copyright law and the terms of our commercial reproductions.

The appropriate reprographic form will need to be completed.

Reprographics will always take the physical condition of the material into account.

Restrictions to access

Access to some archives may be restricted for one or more of the reasons below. An explanation will always be given to the user as to why access to an archive is restricted.

Access to non-catalogued records which have been accessioned may be provided at the discretion of the archivist.

Access to archives may be partially or complete restricted if the content is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998.

In exceptional circumstances a closure period may be agreed with depositors of a collection. In these cases access is restricted until the end of the closure period.

Access to archives that are in an unstable physical condition will be restricted.

Where surrogate copies exist, these will be produced in place of original archives in order to preserve the original.

Where a surrogate exists, access to the original is given at the discretion of the Archivist.

Access to archives may be restricted in exceptional circumstances if it is not possible to provide adequate supervision or security of the archives.

Policy information

This policy was published in January 2017 and will be formally reviewed after a period of three years. Please contact us with any feedback relating to this policy.

Document Title Archive Collections Management and Access Policy
Version Number Version 1.0
Dated 27th January 2017
Approved and Authorised by Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure
Author(s) Local Studies and Archives Manager
Date of Last Review N/A
Date of Next Formal Review Jan 2020
Contact Simon McKeon, Local Studies and Archives Manager

Public Task Statement

Public Task statement: Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre

This statement sets out the functions carried out by Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre and what information is available for re-use under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005.

The Public Task

Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre collects preserves and makes accessible historic archive collections relating to the London Borough of Bexley - and local and family history resources relating to London Borough of Bexley. A brief overview of our collections is provided at Archives and local history.

Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre is operated by the London Borough of Bexley and provides an archives service for the Borough. The core functions are carried out within a legal framework including the Local Government (Records) Act 1962, the Local Government Act 1972, the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967, the Parochial Registers and Records Measure, 1978 (amended 1992), the Manorial Documents Rules 1959 (amended 1963 and 1967) and the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.

Information available for re-use

You can see, copy and re-use information that is produced by the service (e.g. catalogues, indexes, policies, procedures) free of charge provided it is not subject to Data Protection.

You can also see archives and publications held at Bexley Local Studies & Archives Centre free of charge during our opening hours. You can make a copy of most of these items for personal use but the law for re-use is more restrictive. Constraints include copyright and Data Protection and are outlined in our copying policy. The copying policy, arrangements and charges are on our website.

Review and complaints

This statement will be reviewed every four years and is due to be considered again in 2021. If you have any queries or complaints about the re-use of information, please submit them to archives@bexley.gov.uk

Document Title Public Task Statement
Version Number Version 1.0
Dated 27 Jan 2017
Approved and Authorised by Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure
Author(s) Local Studies and Archives Manager
Date of Last Review N/A
Date of Next Formal Review Jan 2021
Contact Simon McKeon, Local Studies and Archives Manager

Records Management Policy

1. Introduction

The London Borough of Bexley recognises that its records are a vital asset. Records are the Council’s “corporate memory” and provide evidence of the Council’s actions and decisions. It is important they are managed actively and systematically to ensure transparency, accountability and legal compliance. Adopting this policy will mean the Council benefits from better use of physical and server space and compliance with legislation and national requirements.

Records Management is the process by which an organisation manages all its records whether internally or externally generated and in any format or media type, from their creation, all the way through to their lifecycle to their eventual disposal. This policy document sets out the principles and approaches to support records management at the London Borough of Bexley.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the Information Protection Policy and the Guidance on Information Security and Ways of Working.

2. Key Messages from Policy

2.1 The aim of this policy is to ensure that all Council service areas, Members and service partners are aware of their personal obligations regarding the efficient, cost effective and legally compliant creation and management of information and records. In doing so this will ensure:

  • Records are available when needed - from which the Council is able to form a reconstruction of activities or events that have taken place
  • Records can be accessed - records and the information within them can be located and displayed in a way consistent with its initial use, and that the current version is identified where multiple versions exist
  • Records can be interpreted - the context of the record can be interpreted i.e. who created or added to the record and when, during which business process, and how the record is related to other records.
  • Records can be trusted – the record reliably represents the information that was actually used in, or created by, the business process, and its integrity and authenticity can be demonstrated.
  • Records can be maintained through time – the qualities of availability, accessibility, interpretation and trustworthiness can be maintained for as long as the record is needed, perhaps permanently, despite changes of format.
  • Records are secure - from unauthorised or inadvertent alteration or erasure, that access and disclosure are properly controlled and audit trails will track all use and changes. To ensure that records are held in a robust format which remains readable for as long as records are required.
  • Records are retained and disposed of appropriately - using consistent and documented retention and disposal procedures, which include provision for appraisal and the permanent preservation of records with archival value.
  • Staff are trained - so that all staff are made aware of their responsibilities for record keeping and record management.

3. Scope

This policy applies to the management of records, in all digital or physical formats or media, created or received by the London Borough of Bexley in the conduct of its business activities.

This policy applies to all personnel carrying out work on behalf of the London Borough of Bexley – anyone who is given access to Bexley’s records.

4. Decentralised Approach

The London Borough of Bexley’s approach to records management will combine centralised polices and guidance sufficient to protect the interests of the Council, with decentralised implementation to enable flexible and practical responses to business needs. We want teams to be able to develop procedures that suit their ways of working best and also fit in with the requirements of this policy – for advice or support on records management, please contact ICT Services.

5. Roles and Responsibilities

All staff that create, receive and use records have records management responsibilities at some level depending on the nature of the role they fulfil. There are specific responsibilities for various groups within the Council and these are set out below.

  • 5.1 Senior Management
    Senior managers are responsible for approving and promoting compliance with records management policies and procedures, and supporting the implementation of specific service-based records management programmes. In particular, the Senior Information Risk Owner, will perform the leadership role in connection with this responsibility and ensure Management Board are fully engaged and support records management at Bexley.
  • 5.2 The Information Security Group
    The corporate Information Security Group is responsible for formulating and reviewing records management policy and also monitoring the delivery of the operational activities of the Records Management programme (including awareness and spot-checks).
  • 5.3 Information Asset Owners
    An information asset is any record/piece of information which holds value to the organisation. They are captured in the Information Asset Register, as are the owners. If you are an IAO you are responsible for the upkeep and security of that asset. For more information on your role as an IAO please complete ‘Protecting Information level 2’ on ilearn.
  • 5.4 Managers and Individual members of staff
    Service managers and staff are responsible for creating and maintaining records in accordance with best practice, legal requirements and local service-based records management programmes, policies and procedures.

6. Records Management systems

  • 6.1 Each service area and service partner must have in place adequate systems for documenting its principal activities and ensuring that it creates and maintains records that endeavour to possess authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability.
    6.1.1 It should be documented when paper records are taken out of and subsequently returned to their storage. For an example of a table to facilitate this please see Appendix 3 below.
  • 6.2 There must be a clear allocation of responsibility within each department for all aspects of record-keeping, including classifying documents and secure disposal. Ownership of information will be assumed to be the relevant Information Asset Owner, as identified and recorded on the Council’s Information Asset Register.
  • 6.3 Line managers should ensure that when a member of staff leaves, responsibility for records held on personal drives or other areas not accessible to colleagues is transferred to another member of staff; and out of date information deleted. Please refer to appropriate forms on ‘My View’ for further information.
  • 6.4 Teams should develop systems to keep on top of records management. It is important that procedures are documented so they are not reliant on the memory individual members of staff.

7. Creating Records

  • 7.1 Records must be accurate and complete, so that it is possible to establish what decisions and actions have been taken, and why. The quality of the records must allow staff to carry out their work efficiently, demonstrate compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, and ensure accountability and transparency expectations are met.
  • 7.2 Information should be compiled at the time of the event or transaction to which it relates, or as soon as possible afterwards, and protected from unauthorised alteration or deletion. Where relevant, templates should be used, so that documents are produced consistently and quickly.
  • 7.3 Standardised referencing and titling are essential, so that information can be promptly identified and retrieved. Naming conventions and glossaries should be used to ensure the consistent use of terms. Version control is also required for the drafting and revision of documents, so that different versions can be distinguished and the latest version readily identified. The Council’s Naming Conventions can be found here.

8. Classification of Records

  • 8.1 All records, paper or electronic, must be organised logically, so that they can be easily and speedily retrieved. A classification scheme or filing structure should be devised, based on an analysis of a department’s functions and activities, to ensure that documents are organised appropriately and consistently. Similar records should be grouped together: if the contents of folders are too diverse, it will be difficult to locate material and assign appropriate retention periods.
  • 8. 2 Record classification must reflect the agreed Information Asset protective marking level as recorded in the Council’s Information Asset Register. Further information on classifications and protective marking can be found in Appendix 1 below.

9. Access and security

  • 9.1 It must be possible for staff to retrieve the information they need to carry out their work. Paper records that are consulted frequently should be kept close at hand within the immediate office space. Protective marking levels and associated information handling guidelines must be observed at all times.
  • 9.2 In line with the current Bexley First changes it is the hoped that all records will be scanned and stored electronically except records which are legally or otherwise required to have a paper copy. Paperless working makes it easier to work remotely and is a much more secure way of storing information.
  • 9.3 Records must be made available as widely as possible. Information that other staff use or may require must be stored on a shared drive or within team storage, so that departments can operate efficiently when individuals are absent. Where appropriate, data should also be shared across the Council in order to avoid wasting resources recreating information that already exists and storing duplicate data unnecessarily. Information that is only accessible to a single person should therefore be kept to a minimum. It is therefore important that appropriate permissions are set up for every member of staff at the beginning of their employment with London Borough of Bexley.
    9.3.1 - Please note that ‘Everyone Everyone’ is an area on the N: drive that all staff can access. This can be used to share files but no PROTECTED, RESTRICTED or personal information should be stored in this area. Files will be automatically deleted after 31 days therefore this area must not be used for permanent storage.
  • 9.4 Team storage cabinets are the best place to store paper records. They are lockable and all members of the team can have access to them. It is important that starters and leavers processes are adhered to as this will mean access to folders on the network is kept up to date. Access controls are the most secure way of ensuring electronic data is only accessible to those who have permission to see it.
  • 9.5 Information held in digital systems must be protected from accidental or unauthorised alteration, copying, movement or deletion: wherever possible, business systems should maintain audit trails allowing all actions to be to be traced to specific people, dates and times. It is essential that any data held on portable storage devices, such as laptops, USB flash drives, portable hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and any computer not owned by the Council, is kept secure and protected from theft. Encryption should be used when storing any personal or sensitive data.
  • 9.6 The integrity of electronic data is of paramount importance, if it is considered the primary, definitive record of a transaction. Departments that are responsible for storing documents required for evidential purposes should aim to comply with the British Standards Code of practice for legal admissibility and evidential weight of information stored electronically.

10. Retention schedule

  • 19.1 The London Borough of Bexley’ corporate retention schedule lists the main categories of records held by the Council, and how long they are to be retained in order to meet operational needs, to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, to support accountability, and to protect the interests of its personnel. It provides a uniform system for the disposal of information, preventing it from being either discarded prematurely or kept unnecessarily.

11. Disposal

  • 11.1 Disposal is both the destruction of records and the transfer of selected records to the archive. It can also include the movement of records from one system to another (e.g. paper to electronic) or the transfer of custody of the records.
  • 11,2 Records should be reviewed regularly and working copies, trivial emails, out-of-date reference material and unnecessary duplicates destroyed to prevent unnecessary material taking up space required by declared records.
  • 11.3 The selection of records for disposal, both paper and electronic, is controlled by compliance to retention policies and must only be carried out by authorised staff. When the retention period expires, all copies of records should be disposed of, wherever they are held. Disposal should also be documented, to provide evidence that retention schedules have been followed and to prevent searching for material that no longer exists. Please contact HR if you would like to have a copy of the retention schedule.
  • 11.4 Restricted or sensitive records must be destroyed confidentially and kept secure whilst awaiting destruction. Electronic data must be deleted so that it is completely erased and irrecoverable. This will be achieved by ensuring all hard drives are sent for destruction via Northgate.
  • 11.5 Records must not be destroyed if they are required in connection with an on-going or pending investigation, grievance, complaint or legal dispute.

12. Preserving records

  • 21.1 Departments should develop procedures to ensure that records of continuing value remain accessible, usually on a network drive or central server, so that they are backed up and safeguarded from hardware and software failure. Records must be stored in conditions appropriate to their medium and format, taking into account operational needs, retention periods and costs.
  • 12.2 They should be protected in storage from potential hazards, such as fire and flood, and environmental conditions within storage areas must be maintained clean and secure to minimise the risk of the records deteriorating.
  • 12.3 It is the responsibility of Information Asset owners to ensure that records are reviewed at regular intervals, usually annually. Where necessary, electronic records should be converted to newer formats and migrated to other systems, so that they are always accessible and usable. Processes should also be in place to protect documents from being inadvertently overwritten, for example, by using templates when creating new versions of documents.
  • 12.4 A small percentage of the Council’s records will be selected by Archive Staff for permanent preservation for their long-term reference or historical value, providing evidence of the Boroughs most significant functions and activities, documenting its policy formation, and tracing the development of its fabric and infrastructure. The retention schedule specifies records for permanent preservation that are to be transferred to the Local Studies and Archives Centre at Central Library, Bexleyheath.

13. Vital records

  • 13.1 Records that would be vital to the continued functioning of the London Borough of Bexley in the event of a disaster (e.g. fire, flood, virus attack) must be identified and protected. These include records that would recreate the London Borough of Bexley’s legal and financial status, preserve its rights, and ensure that it continues to fulfil its obligations to its stakeholders (e.g. current financial information, contracts, proof of title and ownership).
  • 13.2 Vital records must be stored on central servers, so that they are protected by appropriate back-up and disaster recovery procedures. Vital records that are only available in paper format should be duplicated, and the originals and copies stored in separate locations. If, however, duplication is impracticable or legally unacceptable, fire protection safes must be used to protect the documents.

14. Monitoring and review

  • 14.1 The Information Security Group shall on a regular scheduled basis review the Council’s compliance with this policy, make revisions to this policy when necessary and provide a guidance and advice where appropriate.

15. Procedures and Guidelines

  • 15.1 The adoption of Council wide standards and procedures is essential to ensure that effective records management is provided consistently across the authority in a systematic and sustainable manner.
  • 15.2 This policy shall be supported by such procedures and guidelines issued by the Information Security Group.

16. Legal and Professional Obligations

16.1 All Council records are Public Records under the Public Records Acts as defined and read in conjunction with:-

  • The Public Records Act 1958
  • The Data Protection Act 1998;
  • The Freedom of Information Act 2000; and
  • The Common Law Duty of Confidentiality

and any new legislation affecting records management as it arises.

17 Review and Revision

This policy will be reviewed as it is deemed appropriate, but no less frequently than every 12 months.

Appendix 1 - Protective Marking

A1.1 Protective Marking Methodology

A1.1.1 The aim of the methodology is to provide an objective means of allocating protective marking classification levels to information in a simple and accurate way so that it can be stored, handled and secured appropriately.

A1.1.2 It is not the intention of the methodology to replace professional judgments regarding the sensitivity of information but to provide guidance for situations where staff are unclear which would be the correct classification.

A1.1.3 This methodology is to be used as a framework to provide guidance and ease classification in many cases where it is not immediately clear.

A1.1.4 The guidance the methodology provides can be used as a benchmark against which exceptions by business case can be judged.

A1.1.5 The allocation of a protective marking should not, on its own, preclude information being provided in response to a FOI request; disclosure following an FOI request may trigger a reclassification.

A1.2 Applying the Methodology

A1.2.1 There are three markings applied to information assets with decreasing security levels: RESTRICTED, or

PROTECTED, or

UNCLASSIFIED OR NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED.

A1.2.2 The methodology is applied by allocating scores to elements of information that may be contained within the document. The value against each element will vary depending upon the impact of the loss of such data. For example, the name and address of an individual is scored more highly than their email address but less than details of racial abuse. The total awarded score determines the sensitivity level of the information.

A1.2.3 The elements are grouped into three classifications, Platinum, Gold and Silver. If any element is present from the Platinum group then the document is immediately classified as RESTRICTED. Otherwise, each Gold element is scored as 3 points and Silver elements are valued as 2 points. The total value of points is then calculated to determine the protective level marking.

  • A total score of 18 and above leads to a protective marking level of RESTRICTED.
  • If the score is 2 to 17 then the information is automatically allocated the classification of PROTECT with exception of material that is produced for publication or will be published in which case it is marked as UNCLASSIFIED or Not Protectively Marked.

A1.2.4 Once the correct marking has been decided and allocated you can add it as a ‘watermark’ (Page Layout – Page Background – Watermark – Custom Watermark) or a template is available if you are creating new documents.

A1.3 Elements

Platinum elements – any of the following automatically identifies the document as RESTRICTED.

P1 Details of spousal, sexual, racial or similar abuse, the investigation or prosecution of a crime, the apprehension of an offender, or any other threat to significant harm to an individual
P2 Borough or wider civil contingency plans or information obtained in relation to anti-terrorist activity and/or planning but excluding general emergency plans or strategies
P3 Commercially sensitive documents where the release of the information could significantly prejudice the Council or 3rd party commercial interests.
P4 Information about 1000 or more identifiable individuals, other than information sourced from the public domain.
P5 Configuration details relating to the controls of networks &/or network defences that may facilitate further attack

Gold - each Gold element = 3 points

G1 Name
G2 Address
G3 DOB
G4 National identifier e.g. NI number, NHS number, Passport number, Driving license
G5 Individual bank or financial details
G6 Police record or Community Safety client
G7 Record of benefits [DWP or LA]
G8 Case event e.g. referral, assessment, investigation, planning or review of services
G9 Corporate financial or commercially sensitive documents that will not form part of public documents or records and will remain commercially sensitive for the life of a contract or partnership etc.
G10 Lists of staff contact details compiled in relation to emergency planning, disaster recovery or incident management

Silver - each Silver element = 2 points

S1 Photograph of person
S2 Employment details
S3 In receipt of specific personal council services e.g. home care
S4 Legal documents including tenancy agreements, commercial contract or property details
S5 Trading standards investigations and reports
S6 Telephone number and/or email address
S7 Corporate financial details prior to them forming part of public documents or records
S8 Marital status or sexual orientation if not recorded in G8
S9 Noise Complaints regarding neighbours

For the purposes of this methodology other customer information that is regularly recorded for service delivery purposes does not contribute to the protective marking score. Examples would be:

  • Service requests e.g. missed bins
  • In receipt of general non personal council services e.g. recycling
  • Information will be made available after process
  • In receipt of general personal council services e.g. library, leisure membership
  • Complaints

A1.3 Example

One of the information assets within the Electoral Services are the Household Registration Forms. These are sent to every household in the borough and the returns are used to update the Electoral Register. The form contains the name, address, date-of-birth and nationality of everyone living within the household.

As there are 95,000 forms issued and returned and some of the information is personal and cannot be obtained elsewhere then it can be determined that their protective marking falls into the RESTRICTED category because element P4 is satisfied – Information about 1000 or more identifiable individuals, other than information sourced from the public domain.