Number of records registered as missing

FOI request reference: F0047438
Publication date: December 2016

Title: Number of records registered as missing

FOI request reference: F0047438

Response sent: December 2016

Outcome: Successful  


At the time of this enquiry being processed, how many individually accessioned archival files has The National Archives currently got registered as missing from its collections?


Thank you for your enquiry of 14 November 2016, in which you asked; How many individually accessioned archival files are currently registered as missing from the collection at The National Archives?

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000. The FOI Act gives you the right to know whether we hold the information you want and to have it communicated to you, subject to any exemptions which may apply.

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

Currently, there are 1625 individual archival files listed as missing as of 17 November 2016 (the date we reviewed our systems in light of this information request.)  I would like to clarify that The National Archives considers documents to be “missing” when they have been misplaced at The National Archives.  They are classed as such in the database only after an extensive search has been made for them.

The National Archives holds more than 11 million public records at Kew on behalf of the UK Government. Our collection, housed on more than 200km of shelving, continues to grow every year. We handle more than 1.2 million transactions delivering documents to and from our reading rooms per year.

Occasionally a very small number of these files are found not to be in their correct location. Documents can be recorded as misplaced for a variety of reasons. This is usually through genuine, unintentional human error from either staff or members of the public.  The majority of misplaced files tend to be misfiled on the wrong shelf and are subsequently found again after a thorough inspection. We proactively monitor all misplaced documents on a weekly basis and have a robust, ongoing programme dedicated to locating misplaced documents. If a document is later located we update the catalogue accordingly.

I hope this information is of some use to you and I wish you all the best with your research.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request or the decision which has been reached, you have the right to ask for an internal review.  Internal review requests must be submitted within two months of the date of this response and should be addressed to:

Quality Manager
Public Services Development Unit
The National Archives

Please mark your complaint clearly.  You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your complaint.  However, please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning his investigation.