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Public inquiry guidance
Records management in public inquiries
Public inquiries investigate issues of serious public concern, scrutinising past decisions and events. It is therefore crucial that information created or used during the course of an inquiry is managed to ensure its survival for future policy makers and researchers.
Without effective information management right from the start a public inquiry will struggle to run efficiently, justify its findings or provide a lasting record.
Good information management will:
- provide accountability for inquiry findings
- ensure inquiry staff can efficiently access and use information as necessary
- support compliance with relevant legislation
- help protect personal or sensitive information
- facilitate the efficient selection and transfer of the inquiry record
Public inquiries are conducted on behalf of the Crown, which therefore means that records created or given to the inquiry are public records as defined by the Public Records Act 1958. Those responsible for public records, including the chairman of a public inquiry, have a duty to make arrangements for the selection of those records which ought to be permanently preserved and for their safe-keeping. Under the Inquiry Rules 2006 it is also the responsibility of the chairman to ensure 'the record of the inquiry is comprehensive and well-ordered'.
Find guidance on how to establish the roles and responsibilities of the relevant parties in a public inquiry.
Develop and implement an information management policy which covers principles for the management, review and transfer of the inquiry record.
Learn how to create effective records management processes that reflect the operation of the inquiry.
Consider technical requirements for information management and learn how to create and maintain an inquiry website.
Discover how to establish copyright and ownership of information relating to a public inquiry.
Find guidance on the selection of public inquiry records for permanent preservation and disposal decisions.
Find out how to manage sensitive information and conduct a sensitivity review.
Find information on how to prepare, catalogue and transfer selected records to the sponsoring department or The National Archives.
The information management consultants at The National Archives can provide advice on how to manage records of a public inquiry. For further information, or to request a meeting with us, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org