BBC BLOGS - Open Secrets
« Previous | Main | Next »

Police paperwork

Martin Rosenbaum | 15:20 UK time, Friday, 18 July 2008

Last year the Information Tribunal heard a freedom of information case between the Guardian and Avon and Somerset Police relating to material about the unsuccessful prosecution of the Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe in 1979 on a charge of conspiracy to murder.

The Tribunal's decision records that the Police gave the Guardian an index to documents held on the case (paragraph 15).

I made an FOI request to Avon and Somerset Police for this index. Their response stated they no longer held a copy - they had destroyed it three weeks after the Tribunal decision.

Somewhat baffled as to why they would destroy a document of that kind so quickly, I asked for a copy of their policy on record retention and destruction.

The reply to this stated: 'The 'Retention and Weeding Policy' that was in being at the time of the destruction of the Jeremy Thorpe case papers is now obsolete and has been superseded by a new 'Retention, Review and Disposal of Documents Policy' - and they refused to send me a copy of this new policy because it 'is currently being drafted and is intended for future publication'.

So I asked them to send me a copy of the old policy. But it then turned out that they could not send me that either, because 'The 'Retention and Weeding Policy' (weeding rules) that was in being at the time of the destruction of the Jeremy Thorpe case papers is no longer held as it was replaced with a new policy'.

But hang on a minute - I thought the new policy was still being drafted? So how do they decide what to retain and what to destroy?

The answer to that puzzle is apparently that the new policy, which they can't send me because it 'is currently being drafted and is yet to be finalised' is nevertheless 'being adhered to'.

I'm just wondering what this record retention policy lays down about how long Avon and Somerset Police should keep a copy of an old policy which is still in the process of being redrafted.


or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.