Public records that have been lost

FOI request reference: F0046517
Publication date: August 2016

Title – Public records that have been lost
FOI request reference: F0046517
Response sent: August 2016

Request:

This is a Freedom of Information request regarding public records that have been lost.

Please can you give me the numbers of public records lost while out on loan or requisitioned by public bodies over the last 5 years? Please supply this in the form of a table showing the name of the public body and the number of records lost.

Please also provide the number of public records lost at or by The National Archives over the last 5 years.

I do not need to know the titles or references of records lost, just the numbers

Outcome:

Successful

Response:

Thank you for your enquiry of 29 July 2016 in which you asked for information about the numbers of public records lost while out on loan or requisitioned by public bodies and the number of public records lost at or by The National Archives over the last five years.

We have handled your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).  The FOI Act gives you the right to know whether we hold the information you want and to have it communicated to you.

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request. We are pleased to be able to provide this information to you. Please note that as your request was received by The National Archives on 29 July 2016, our response to both parts of your request relates to information about records misplaced or missing in the five years immediately preceding this date, commencing 29 July 2011.

The numbers of public records lost while out on loan or requisitioned by public bodies over the last five years as at 29 July 2016:-

Department Name Number of records misplaced whilst on requisition in the last five years
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 2
Cabinet Office 7
Coal Authority 1
Department of Energy and Climate Change 1
Foreign and Commonwealth Office 3
Health Protection Agency 1
Her Majesty’s Treasury 3
Metropolitan Police 10
Ministry of Defence 19
Ministry of Justice 1
Total 48

At the time your request was received, there were 48 records that were recorded on The National Archives’ systems as misplaced while on loan or requisition over the past five years back to 29 July 2011. Since your request two of these records have been returned to The National Archives.

The number of public records lost at or by The National Archives over the last five years:-

372 documents are currently reported as missing at The National Archives for the five-year period from 29 July 2011 through to 29 July 2016. This is the number of documents that have been reported as missing during that period and are still currently missing at The National Archives. Once a document has been located it is no longer listed as missing on our systems.

The National Archives holds more than 11 million records at our Kew site and we produce to our reading rooms more than 600,000 records per year – this equates to 1.2 million movements of documents between our repositories and our reading rooms. Documents are recorded as missing on the assumption that the record has been misfiled while at The National Archives. Documents are only recorded as missing after an extensive search has been made for them. We have an ongoing program dedicated to locating missing records and through this we are able to locate many records listed as missing; for example in cases where they have been misfiled during the normal course of use.