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1.3.8 Retention of Documentation and Destruction of Files


In December 2018, this chapter was updated in line with Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, which permits the transfer of a copy of the child’s case record (or part of that record) to another adoption agency when the local authority considers this to be in the interests of the child (see Section 6, Transferring and Moving Location of Files).


  1. Record Management: General
  2. Summary of Relevant Policies and Guidance
  3. Disposal
  4. Training
  5. Looked After Children
  6. Transferring and Moving Location of Files
  7. Adoption Files

1. Record Management: General

The County Council has produced policies, standards, guidance and specific training to enable all staff to manage the records of the Children's Services Directorate effectively and securely throughout the whole lifecycle of the records, from creation to disposal.

Some specific pieces of corporate guidance which contain personal or security details not in the public domain are retained on GEORGE, the Council intranet.

The Directorate has produced certain guidance on aspects of records management, e.g. offsite storage and destruction, which are specific to the records of the Directorate and in particular to service user files.

References to all of these resources will be found on the Council website, but are summarised below.

This policy does not cover in detail the individual or specialised office procedures of any section of the Directorate in regard to the creation and early-stage management of its records.

2. Summary of Relevant Policies and Guidance

2.1 General

Records Management Policy: a high-level description of the Council's involvement in Records Management.

Overview: a general introduction.

Definitions and terminology: translating the jargon.

Email Management Policy: a high-level description of the Council's approach to this subject (needs to be read in conjunction with the guidance on managing email content).

Frequently Asked Questions: some common concerns explained.

2.2 Creation and Maintenance

Managing Electronic Records: New Documents. This guidance covers general aspects of the creation and organisation of new electronic documents, and in particular titling, folder structure, and version control.

Managing Electronic Records: Managing email content. How to keep your emails under firm control.

Standards for the storage of paper records. This set of standards is designed to encourage best practice in keeping hard copy records.

Managing Electronic Records: Control, retention and disposal. This is about the reasons and methods for effective management and disposal.

Retention and Disposal Schedules: Organised by Directorate and section, with a separate schedule for 'Standard Categories' of administrative records. These list the various record series and how long the records are to be kept. There is also a separate schedule for school records, compiled by the Records Management Society.

Guidance on using the Retention and Disposal Schedules: a brief explanatory guide.

Access to Records: general principles for staff access.

Offsite Storage Procedures: originally produced specifically for Social Care, they are now to be applied across the whole Directorate, and include the basic requirement to archive service user files two months after they are closed.

Off-site storage service: a password-controlled section of the website holds the e-forms used for this service, and there is further guidance available on GEORGE concerning the Council's service provider.

Order Universal Box labels: an e-form for obtaining supplies of labels for on-site archive storage.

Relocation of records: form for staff to use if transferring records from one on-site store to another.

3. Disposal

Important Note: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse requires all institutions to retain their records relating to the care of children for the duration of the Inquiry under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005. There is therefore an obligation to preserve records for the Inquiry for as long as is necessary.

(See Letter to Chief Executives of Local Authorities).

Disposal register template: (not including service user files) Disposal of administrative and other records needs to be logged to show an audit trail, particularly in case of an FOI or Data Protection request for material which no longer exists. This template can be used to record disposal actions for records which are listed on the Retention and Disposal Schedules.

File Destruction Procedure: This guidance has been written for Children's Services, and includes the procedure for logging the disposal of service user files on SWIFT.

Disposal guidance: a description of our arrangements with the Council's current providers is available on GEORGE.

Further guidance on the disposal of electronic records is given in the Managing Electronic Records series.

4. Training

The Council has developed an in-house training programme (Lincs2Learn) which covers all aspects of Information Governance, including Data Protection, Freedom of Information, and Information Security, as well as Records Management. All staff will have to complete the various modules in order to show compliance with a number of policies and satisfy the requirements of the relevant Information Management Competency.

Please refer to the Records Management for further information: Lincolnshire County Council website.

5. Looked After Children

The area teams hold these files.

Additional information held on file in the residential and fostering sector should be sent to the referring area team holding the case file/record when the service terminates.

6. Transferring and Moving Location of Files

If a file is moved from the allocated team office base a record of the process including the date of transfer and receipt and location of the file must be recorded onto a database. For example records on MOSAIC will record the location and transfer of files.

The Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) apply to both paper/manual and electronic records.

When adoption is the plan for the child the responsible local authority may transfer a copy of the child’s case record (or part of that record) to another adoption agency when it considers this to be in the interests of the child, and a written record must be kept of any such transfer. (S.4 The Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, amending S. 49 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010).

7. Adoption Files

Files, once they have been closed, must be sent to the Fostering and Adoption Service for storage.

Files relating to an adopted child and the adoptive family will be stored with the child's files from the area teams.