Introduction

Scope

This guidance comprises practical advice on the selection and transfer of coroners’ records for permanent preservation and public access 

This advice supplements Operational Selection Policy (OSP).  Records created by and relating to coroners 1979-2000.  This advice refers specifically to records created in traditional (paper) formats up to 2009. The criteria presented in the appraisal and selection section comprise a good practice model developed and implemented by a Place of Deposit (PoD) with substantial and significant holdings of coroners files. While there is some scope for other PoDs to adapt this to suit local circumstances, it is offered with the explicit intention of encouraging and supporting consistency of practice across the sector. Any PoD proposing appraisal criteria which deviate significantly from this model would therefore need to secure agreement with The National Archives in advance of implementation. This model can also be used for the retrospective appraisal of inquest files that have not previously been subject to a formal appraisal process. Further advice regarding the selection and transfer of born-digital coroners’ records will be added in due course.  

Coroners and the public record system: an overview

The records of coroners’ courts fall within scope of the Act. This includes records in any format, including media developed since the Act first came into force such as coroners’ audio recordings and born-digital records.

Section 3 of the Act requires any person having custody of such records more than 20 years old, calculated from the latest date of recording, to plan for the selection and transfer of certain of these to The National Archives or a PoD. This was reduced from 30 years in 2010, but will be phased in over the period 2015 to 2024. Briefly, the period reduces by one year during each year of transition until 2024.

Roles and Responsibilities

Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport 

  • Ministerial responsibility 

Advisory Council chaired by the Master of the Rolls 

  • Advisory Council chaired by the Master of the Rolls 

The Keeper of the Public Records (Chief Executive of The National Archives) Delegated to the Archives Sector Development Department of The National Archives

  • Co-ordinates the working of the Act 
  • Issues statutory guidance
  • Liaises with the Chief Coroner’s Office 

Local Places of Deposit (PoDs)

  • Have delegated authority to hold coroners’ and other public records transferred to them under the Act 8 
  • The choice of records to be preserved beyond the15 year point should be agreed between the coroner and the archivist but the final decision will rest with the archive service 
  • Responsible for taking public access decisions following consultation with the relevant coroner, then providing access as appropriate   
  • Many also provide current records support services for coroners under section 24 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and Coroners Rules 

Coroners and support staff 

  • Identify and select records for permanent preservation in accordance with this and any other national guidance issued by The National Archives, or by the PoD in relation to any local variations within the scope of national guidance 9. Please note that the final decision will rest with the archive service 
  • Prepare the records for transfer (including review of any temporary public access restrictions) 
  • Consult with the PoD on any subsequent changes in public access status 
  • Respond to consultation by the PoD regarding public access requests