23 March 2006

A writes:

When you ran the story about the reclassification of previously released documents I took the liberty of raising a foia enquiry with our National Record Office. As you can see from the reply the approach in the UK is very different to that of the US.

-----Original Message-----

From: A
Sent: 08 March 2006 08:50
To: Contact Centre
Subject: New web enquiry

Enquiry : How many documents released either under the usual release rules or as a result of a foia request have subsequently been reclassified. Figures by year would be appreciated. (1979 - 2006 if avaliable) Also how many documents released in total each year in the same period.

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: FW: New web enquiry
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 14:03:44 -0000
From: Abraham, Stuart <Stuart.Abraham[at]nationalarchives.gov.uk
To: A

Dear Mr A

Thank you for your e-mail enquiry of 8th March which has been passed to myself as the Access Manager to reply to.  Unfortunately The National Archives (prior to April 2003 the Public Record Office) has not historically collated figures for the release of records however with the introduction of the online catalogue (see http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/default.asp) we have been able to identify the following figures for records with an opening date from that year

Year		Number of records opened

1999		32514	
2000		45300	
2001		50866	
2002		48275
2003		47238
2004		31681

Between January 2005 and February 2006 146,000 records have been opened to the public including 50,000 on January 4th 2005 to mark the full introduction of the FOI Act.

The Public Records Act prior to 2005 and the Freedom of Information Act thereafter govern access to closed records at The National Archives.  There is no provision in either act for the reclassification of records.  Applications to close historical records on transfer under FOIA or retain them under the Public Records Act are seen by the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council on National Records and Archives.  For information about the work of the council and its membership please see the web links below:



Records selected for permanent preservation are not required to be transferred to The National Archives until their 30th year.  For example, cabinet papers and Foreign Office files from 1975 were transferred and released to the public a few months ago.  The sensitivity review of these files by government departments prior to transfer to archives takes into account their sensitivity at time of transfer.   

Rather than seek to close records previously open to the public, UK government departments and The National Archives have been reviewing the closed records held at Kew to see which can be opened, starting with the 50,000 files released in January 2005, and continue to handle large volumes of FOI requests to closed archival records with the statutory right of appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office if necessary.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Abraham
Access Manager
Records Management Department


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