Documents that relate to the “Windrushers”

FOI request reference: F0052570
Publication date: May 2018

Request

I would like to see all documents that relate to the “Windrushers” as a matter of urgency.

Outcome

Not successful

Response

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request to The National Archives relating to any information we hold relating to the “Windrushers”. We have taken this to mean any information that we hold relating to Caribbean migrants between 1948–71.

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

Section 12 – Cost Limits

The FOI Act gives you two rights of access when you write to us asking for information. You have the right to know whether we hold the information that you are looking for, and you have the right to have the information given to you. These rights may only be overridden if the information you are looking for is covered by an exemption in the Act.

We have determined that we will not be able to answer your request because to do so would exceed the cost limit provision under section 12 of the Act. Section 12 (1) of the Act, makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for The National Archives (as a central government department) is set at £600. This equates to 25 hours staff time (or one person spending 3 and a bit working days) purely on determining whether the department holds the information, as well as locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

We estimate that it will take us in excess of this to identify the appropriate information, and locate, retrieve and extract it in response to your request. This is because we do not file corporate records or archival files in the way in which you have asked for it. For example, we may hold correspondence, or papers, or archival records, in relation to a record series held by The National Archives that may relate to “the Windrushers” or the Windrush generation, however this information would not be searchable by these terms. Therefore, to retrieve the information in the format and structure you have asked for would require searching through thousands of items of correspondence, records and archival records to identify and determine information relevant to the scope of your request. Therefore we will not be processing your request any further.

Advice and assistance

You may be interested to know that we do hold the following information in relation to your request within open records at The National Archives:

– In our BT 26 series, we hold inward passenger lists for the HMT Empire Windrush covering the period 1947 to 1953. These are listed here on our catalogue Discovery. All of these passenger lists are open and available to search and download from Ancestry.co.uk. at this link.

– The relevant passenger list for the famous journey in June 1948, from Jamaica to London, carrying West Indian immigrants is BT 26/1237/91.

– If you would like to pursue research in records held by the National Archives, you, or someone acting on your behalf who perhaps lives closer, are welcome to visit us at our building in Kew, in southwest London, where you can do the research in person and view our documents free of charge. Please check our website for opening times and advice on researching here. I’m afraid the limitations on our resources mean we cannot offer free research but I hope the above advice allows you to carry out this research yourself.

We have provided below some information on the Public Records Act, and government departments’ responsibilities under this:

Under Section 3 of the Public Records Act 1958 it is the responsibility of government departments to appraise their records and select those worthy of permanent preservation to be transferred to The National Archives or an approved place of deposit. Records are destroyed by departments in line with the business retention and disposal policies set for the wider records collections in which they were located.

We can advise that the scope of your request could be narrowed in the following ways in order for us to be able to provide information, subject to any exemptions that may apply, within the cost limit:
– Defining a narrow date range (for example a 3-month period) and clear search terms for us to look for, for example “Windrush generation”.
– Alternatively if you would like us to focus on correspondence with a particular government department using clear search terms, for example “Windrush generation”, the narrow date range could be extended to 1-2 years.

Further guidance on section 12 can be found on the ICO website:

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1199/costs_of_compliance_exceeds_appropriate_limit.pdf

You may find the ICO guidance on making an FOI request helpful in refining or redirecting your request: https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/official-information/