Reclosure figures for 2014, 2015 and 2016 to date

FOI request reference: F0047177
Publication date: September 2016

Title: Reclosure figures for 2014, 2015 and 2016 to date

FOI request reference: F0047177

Response sent: October 2016

Outcome:

Request:

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please provide the following information about the Reclosure panel:

  1. How many requests for reclosure of files were made in each of a: 2014 b: 2015 c: 2016 so far?
  1. For each year, how many were agreed by the panel
  1. Please state the requesting party for each successful request ie Home Office 2, Foreign Office 3, Met Police 10
  1. Which specific files has the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse requested be re-closed?

Please respond within 20 working days.

Thank you,

Response:

Our Ref: F0047177

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request relating to the possibility of obtaining from The National Archives information regarding cases placed before the Reclosure Panel.

For more information relating to The National Archives Reclosure and Takedown Policy please visit our website at the following link:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/legal/takedown-policy.htm

This policy states why we would re-categorise documents, who can request this and how the decision is made. It may also be useful to your research if I explain why a record maybe considered for reclosure.

The reclosure of a previously open record is due to the fact that a potential sensitivity has been identified within the record. These sensitivities may now only come to light as historic records transferred to The National Archives from government departments are viewed with Data Protection legislation and/or Freedom of Information Act exemptions in mind. The process of reclosure is only following what perhaps should have been done at the original point of transfer but due to a variety factors the record was placed on open public access. Therefore the reclosure process is perhaps best seen as sensible ‘checks and balances’ employed by The National Archives.

I should also like to point out that the process of reclosure is rare when considering the volume of material held by The National Archives – over 11million records.

It would be wrong of The National Archives if we did not retrospectively review sensitivity concerns which have been raised. As such the process of reclosure is seen as vital in ensuring that as much of the collection as possible is correctly open and accessible.

With regards to your specific information request, if I may, I shall address each of your points in turn:

  1. How many requests for reclosure of files were made in each of a: 2014 b: 2015 c: 2016 so far?
  2. a) 2014 – 107
  3. b) 2015 – 178
  4. c) 2016 – 127 [From 1st January – 17th October 2016 date TNA records reviewed]

Please also note that these figures relate to the number of requests received. A request can relate to number of records within or including a specific archival series.

  1. For each year, how many were agreed by the panel

The figures below relate to records which have been reviewed by the Reclosure Panel:

Closed in full

  1. a) 2014 – 18 (as stated in published figures)
  2. b) 2015 – 16
  3. c) 2016 -12 [From 1st January – 17th October 2016 date TNA records reviewed]

Several other conclusions to a reclosure request are possible; such as: the record remains opened with information redacted or the Panel concludes the record should, in fact, remain opened in full. As these outcomes also require the agreement of the Panel I have included these figures below:

Open with redactions

  1. ai) 2014 – 14 (as stated in published figures)

bii) 2015 – 28

ciii) 2016 – 14 [From 1st January – 17th October 2016 date TNA records reviewed]

Remain open in full

aiv) 2014 – 8 (as stated in published figures)

  1. bv) 2015 – 3

cvi) 2016 – 0 [From 1st January – 17th October 2016 date TNA records reviewed]

Finally the transferring department may recall the record, if investigations into the sensitives are detailed and complex then an outcome of a particular request may not yet have been concluded (i.e. the request is on-going) or the conclusion to a request can fall into a different year from the original request. For example the above 2016 figures for closed in full – 12 – include 4 requests which were actually received in a previous year.

Until a final decision is reached by the Reclosure Panel the record in question is recorded within our catalogue as ‘access under review’. Thereby, as we have been made aware of potential sensitivities, the record is removed from open public access. Even whilst in this ‘review’ status the record can still be requested under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. Should we receive such a request for a record with status ‘access under review’ the normal Freedom of Information process will be engaged.

  1. Please state the requesting party for each successful request i.e. Home Office 2, Foreign Office 3, Met Police 10

We do not routinely attribute a reclosure request to any particular source. Knowing the source of a request, once a sensitivity has been raised/identified, is irrelevant to any subsequent reclosure investigations.

Each reclosure request is investigated on the merits of the information held within the associated record; regardless of where the request for reclosure originated from. I can tell you that requests come from a variety of sources, such as members of the public, staff or other government departments. I have spoken with colleagues who coordinate reclosure requests and they inform me, from their experience, the overwhelming majority of requests come from members of the public or National Archive staff.

Therefore I am unable to provide the information requested as it is not routinely recorded or collected.

  1. Which specific files has the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse requested be re-closed?

As mentioned above the source of a request is not routinely attributed to any particular person, government body or inquiry. The source of the request is information which is not needed in order to assess potential sensitives within a record. Therefore, as with point 3, I am unable to provide this information.

I trust 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
Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 4DU

complaints@nationalarchives.gov.uk

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.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Manager
The National Archives, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk