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Thinking inside the box

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What secrets will long held records reveal?

Sometimes there is a good reason why records are kept for a long time. Sometimes it’s because the government considers that the sensitive information contained in the documents is too shocking for the public to consume – particularly if it is of a political nature or a matter of national security. Sometimes though we have to wonder why the information was considered so incendiary.

The Times recently ran a story on the contents of a 400 page file released by the National Archives that covers the appointment of provosts at that well known secondary school in Berkshire from 1861 to 1986. Apparently between September 1944 and late January 1945 when Prime Minister Winston Churchill had a few pressing matters to consider, he was also faced with a succession issue at Eton.

The surprise resignation of Lord Quickswood resulted in a series of memos and letters no doubt interrupting Churchill’s focus on issues including the withdrawal from Arnhem, the Battle of the Bulge and negotiations with Stalin. Happily, as far as the provost appointment went, Churchill found time to agree to the appointment of Sir Henry Marten, vice-provost and former tutor to Princess Elizabeth. The King approved too, and Churchill was able to turn his attention back to winning the Second World War.

The National Archives holds many such files and documents that can be guaranteed to make an interesting story or shed a new light on what was considered important fifty, one hundred or more years ago. But how long should most of us keep our files or documents before they can be safely disposed of? Most documents have a life cycle and it is tempting to visualise the documents in our offices as a hungry caterpillar consuming information to grow into a big fat Lever Arch file before being stored away in its chrysalis filing cabinet waiting for its moment of glory before it can be released, flying around from department to department dispensing its information to the right quarters before being stored away for an agreed period of time and eventually disposed of and shredded only to be reborn again – as kitchen or loo roll.

The records management lifecycle covers everything from the creation of a record to its disposal. Different policies and procedures may govern each phase, but there is no denying that it starts with the creation of a document and ends with its disposal or preservation. At Filofile confidential removal of obsolete documents and media forms an integral part of any records management strategy.  Documents are shredded into an enclosed container that is then baled and taken for recycling ensuring the maximum environmental benefit in terms of sustainability and efficient utilisation of resources. Certificates of destruction are issued to ensure the audit trail is complete. Company directors, managers and even Prime Ministers can be assured our full service includes end of life procedures for documents, meaning you don’t need to concern yourself with the disposal of data as, with your approval, it will be dealt with by us when an agreed time is reached.

Get in touch today to discover how our services could help with the records management within your organisation.

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