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Disposing of records

Records Disposal Procedure

Disposition is the process of deciding whether to keep, move or destroy records. 

Within the Council, the following disposition actions may be considered:

  • Permanent physical disposal of hard copy records and deletion of electronic records;
  • Retention for a further period within the business unit;
  • Transfer to an appropriate storage area;
  • Transfer to the RMU (in the case of hard copy semi-current records);
  • Transfer to a storage area managed for the Council by an external provider where appropriate contractual arrangements have been entered into;
  • Transfer of records to the County Archive Service, if the records are selected for permanent preservation;
  • Transfer to another organisation that has assumed responsibility for the business activity through restructuring, transfer or privatisation;
  • Transfer of responsibility for management to an appropriate authority while physical storage of the record is kept by the creating organisation.

Retention Guidelines

As a requirement of the Records Management Policy, the Council has put in place Retention Guidelines which are available on the intranet and Council website and set out how long each record type should be kept. They include, where applicable, the justification for these periods. The Retention Guidelines are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in legislation, service delivery and so forth. Once records have met their required retention period and are identified for destruction, they must be permanently destroyed or deleted from storage media. The requirement to destroy or delete records does not apply where they are subject to an active ‘Embargo/Legal Hold’. An Embargo/Legal Hold is a written directive that requires the suspension of the destruction of records even if the applicable retention periods have expired. An example would be where records identified in the embargo are subject to potential or active litigation, or a government inquiry. In the event that the Retention Guidelines do not specifically refer to the type of record considered for disposition, the Records Management Unit (RMU) should be consulted.

Permanent destruction or deletion of redundant records

Before disposing of records in any format, the following steps must be taken:

  • The Retention Guidelines must be consulted in order to confirm that the specified retention period has passed. When calculating this, employees should refer to the last month and year in the date range. If the records are only identified by year, employees should confirm whether it relates to a calendar year or financial year;
  • It must be confirmed that all known audits, investigations or litigation are completed or resolved;
  • The type of destruction/disposition required must be determined and a record kept containing a brief description of the records to be disposed of and the date of disposal;
  • A form for recording disposal details is made available on the intranet. The RMU will keep completed forms permanently.

Disposal of Personal Information

The General Data Protection Regulation requires that appropriate measures be taken to guard against unauthorised or unlawful use of personal information and against its accidental loss. It is therefore a legal requirement that records containing personal data are disposed of safely.

It is therefore essential that any paper records which contain personal data (as well as otherwise confidential information) are either shredded or destroyed via a confidential waste service.  

It should be noted that inappropriate disposal of personal data could lead to enforcement action, including a significant financial penalty being imposed on the Council and disciplinary action taken against the employees responsible. 

When using the confidential waste service to dispose of records containing personal data or otherwise confidential information, the following steps must always be taken:

  • Confidential waste sacks containing personal or confidential information must be stored securely until they are collected. Storage should be in a locked room where available – sacks should not be kept within offices as this introduces the risk of them being picked up in error and disposed of incorrectly;
  • Alternatively, lockable bins can be obtained from the company providing the service;

Under no circumstances should filled confidential waste sacks be stored in areas accessible to the public or unauthorised persons, such as in corridors;  

  • The provider of the confidential waste service must be asked to contact a responsible officer shortly in advance of their arrival on the day of collection to enable the sacks to be moved to a designated collection point.
  • The collection point must be within secure premises and not accessible to the public;
  • Following collection, a certificate should be obtained from the service provider recording their receipt.

Page updated: 19/06/2019 11:07:52