In 2013 the government began its move towards releasing records when they are 20 years old, instead of 30. The introduction of a 20-year rule is a key part of the government's transparency agenda and The National Archives is helping to manage the earlier release of the public record.

In May 2013, 84 government bodies that transfer records to The National Archives provided data on the volume and transfer status of the records they hold that date from up to 1985. The transition to a 20-year rule will take ten years and this type of data will be collected throughout that time and published on our website. Read more about the data contained in the record transfer report.

Access the record transfer report

The file shows the data provided by those 21 bodies that transfer 90% of the records sent to The National Archives each year, in A-Z order. The data from the remaining 63 bodies that are included in the report are then also listed alphabetically.

Record transfer report May 2013 (XLS, 0.08Mb)

Record transfer report May 2013 (CSV, 0.02Mb)

To aid understanding, a visualisation of the data provided by those 21 government departments that transfer a high volume of records to The National Archives has been produced.

To aid understanding, a visualisation of the data provided by those 21 government departments that transfer a high volume of records to The National Archives has been produced.

  • Department comment: The increase in the legacy figure is due mainly to the inclusion of files retained for reference purposes, some of which are duplicates of what is already open at The National Archives. A decision is pending on whether the files being retained for such purposes are worthy of permanent preservation.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Cabinet Office
  • Department comment: We have reviewed and selected cases up to 1987 and are presently on schedule for 1988.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Crown Prosecution Service
  • Department comment: The total number of files for review in 2012/2013 has dropped significantly due to the closure of Westfield House on 31/03/2013. The size of the review team was increased to 12 for a temporary period before closure but there is currently only one full person reviewing files and the plan is to clear the backlog of files accepted by The National Archives before re-commencing review work.

    The overall figure also includes a number of RSA (Radioactive Substances Agency) files which are currently being reviewed by the team. This may result in a slight change of the figures by the next report.

    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Department comment: This body established 1992, not yet due to transfer records.
  • LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for Education
  • Department comment: There is a set of legacy records which are mainly inherited from ex-DETR (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions). A programme is in place to work through them and transfer if appropriate.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department comment: DFID operated on a three year file period during years in question. Records relating to the file period 82/84 have already been transferred or included under the section on Legacy. Therefore, the section for 83/84 records is N/A.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for International Development
  • Department comment: This return has been completed on the basis of the review shared service that DCLG provides to DfT.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for Transport
  • LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department for Work and Pensions
  • Department comment: The DECC figures are based on 13% of the entire BIS catalogue as BIS offers a shared service for Records Management Services.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Department of Health
  • Department comment: Around 1.2 million legacy files are legally retained while a release plan is developed. 1985/1986 transfers in 2014 are estimates. Further legacy files will transfer in 2014.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Department comment: Commencing 1988 files in 2013. HSE has a backlog of files not previously reviewed - will commence this in 2013.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Health and Safety Executive
  • Department comment: The figures provided are estimations only. HMRC may have considerably more records which we are unable to identify at present.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for HM Revenue and Customs
  • Department comment: HM Treasury are currently embarking on an accelerated review of their records to ensure they are able to comply with the obligations of the 20 yr rule.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for HM Treasury
  • Department comment: Legacy increase due to 10K HO 405 files not included in 2012 return. HO is conducting an accelerated review programme. Aiming to transfer digital earlier than 2022.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Home Office
  • Department comment: Return excludes reporting from Atomic Weapons Establishment, UK Hydrographic Office and Defence Geographic Centre who have submitted their own reports.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Ministry Of Defence
  • Department comment: Although some record numbers are known, due to the large number of types of records held, some Ministry of Justice figures are based on estimated meterage. It is expected that all records from 1984 and earlier will be transferred by December 2014.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Ministry of Justice
  • Department comment: Files numbers for 1985 and 1986 are estimates as reviews of these years currently underway, have not been completed.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Northern Ireland Office
  • Department comment: Ordnance Survey is an Executive Agency of BIS department working as a trading fund. Our records year is in line with our financial year (April to March) all of our estimates given in this submission are based on these timescales. There is a small residue of files, from our relocation to new offices, that need to be transferred. All records decisions, panel papers and selection decisions have been made and it is a matter of processing and delivery to The National Archives. Over the next few years this will drop to a very small number which is our normal level of transfer.
    LegacyCurrentForecast Record transfer data for Ordnance Survey

Note about the data

In September 2012, 80 government bodies that transfer records to The National Archives provided data on the volume of records they hold in the following categories:

  • legacy - records dating from 1981 or earlier that were due for transfer or destruction prior to 2012
  • current - records dating from 1982 that were due for transfer or destruction in 2012
  • forecast - records dating from 1983 and 1984 that are due for transfer or destruction in 2013

Data was also provided on the transfer status of the records held within each of these categories. The volume of records identified as being of potential historical value is shown within the record transfer report as 'records currently selected for transfer'. The volume ready to be transferred for permanent preservation is the 'planned total for year end transfer' figure given in the report and the visualisation.

The 'still to process' figure given in the report and the visualisation includes files which either have not yet been appraised for permanent preservation, or are awaiting disposal. This 'still to process' figure was derived by taking the 'total number of records held' and subtracting the 'number of records currently selected for transfer'.

An explanatory note to the data has been included where one has been provided by the organisation.

Useful links

Access a summary of the public records transferred to The National Archives each year.

Read more about the 20-year rule.

Find out how the records transfer process works.

Read about the legislation that shapes how the government record is managed.

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