Internal correspondence related to racism

FOI request reference: F0062993
Publication date: September 2020


From May 25 up to date:
Can you please provide (redacted as needed) internal communications/memos/notices/emails/video conference calls, webinars or transcripts of these, etc From, but not limited to: Staff networks, working groups, intranet notices, senior members staff and management, internal recommendations on behalf of senior staff or the organization as a whole, reports, letters, petitions and external communications to senior staff (from DCMS for example) regarding:

  • Racism
  • Black Lives Matter and the killing of George Floyd
  • Decolonising collections
  • The removal or reappraisal of items
  • Colonialism, imperialism, empire, institutional racism, white supremacy, unconscious bias

In particular I would like to know:

  • Collections or materials, historical figures, that have been highlighted as problematic by the institutions or staff within it
  • And what steps have so far been recommended to or by staff to tackle these issues




The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 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.
From our preliminary assessment, it is clear 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) removes the obligation for a public authority to comply with a request for information if the cost of complying with the request would exceed an appropriate limit. For further information about why this exemption has been applied, please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this letter.

You may wish to refine your request by narrowing its scope and being more specific about what information you particularly wish to obtain, including any dates or period of time relevant to the information required. For example, you may want to consider the following:

  • Choosing one method of communication such as emails or internal notices
  • Choosing one or two key word searches such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Racism’

To be clear, you are not obliged to inform us of the purpose of your request, but the more descriptive information you provide, the more we can help you identify if we hold the information you are looking for within the cost limit.

Explanatory Annex

Exemptions applied

Section 12 – Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit.

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for central government departments like The National Archives is set at £600.  This represents the estimated cost of one person spending just over three working days 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 because it is so wide ranging.  Therefore, the majority of your request will not be processed further. You may wish to consider refining your request. More information can be found here: When can we refuse a request for information? | ICO