East Sussex County Council Records Management Policy

1. Introduction and Purpose

East Sussex County Council (the Council) is dependent on its records to maintain normal business operations, enable compliance with current legislation, and to support accountability for the actions of the Council and its staff. This policy defines a structure within which the Council can ensure that its records are managed effectively in accordance with its legal, operational and evidential needs.

Records are an asset and are an essential source of organisational and historical information. They have been and remain instrumental to the successful service delivery and effective running of the Council. The appropriate management of these records is necessary to support core functions, deliver vital services and comply with legal and regulatory obligations. This policy ensures an effective overall management of records throughout their life cycle and therefore a cost-effective and professional delivery of council services.

Issues relating to management of records are critical to the ongoing business and legislative obligations of the Council. Specifically, we are mindful of The Statutory Code of Practice on the management of records (the Code) issued under section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (the FOIA), which provides Local Authorities with guidance to help them create a framework for the keeping, management and destruction of their records.

Adhering to the Code enables the Council to account for our activities and helps us to comply with information rights legislation such as the FOIA, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

It also assists us to comply with the Public Records Act 1958 (PRA) and to fulfil our duty to publish information about our activities and comply with the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015.

This document provides the policy framework through which the effective management of records can be achieved and audited.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • instil and maintain good practice in records management across the Council;
  • enable the Council to fulfil its corporate responsibility to maintain its records and record keeping systems in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements;
  • ensure that records vital to the operation of the Council are identified and preserved;
  • ensure that all records are managed throughout their lifecycle securely and cost-effectively;
  • ensure that records are destroyed securely once the lawful basis for keeping them has expired.

This policy will help support the Council’s aim to achieve high performing services, by setting an effective framework for the retrieval, management, and disposal of records and information in paper and electronic formats.

Policy Statement

The Council recognises records as a resource for enabling efficient service delivery and informed decision making now and in the future. In retrospect, records provide transparency, evidence and they form the documentary heritage of East Sussex and its people.

Therefore, the Council is committed to create, maintain and manage records effectively to support its core functions, in accordance with legislation, relevant regulation and best practice. The efficient management of records is recognised to be part of the Council’s Core Offer.

2. Scope and Definitions

This policy applies to all departments of the Council and all records, irrespective of format, created, received or maintained by Council staff in the course of carrying out their corporate functions.

Records and documentation created by contractors as part of their obligations to the Council and internally or externally funded research data are also subject to these record-keeping requirements.

Schools, whether they are maintained by the Council or not, are responsible for their own record keeping and their records are not subject to this policy.


Information is data that is organised and contextualised so that it can be understood. 


A document is a self-contained unit of information. It may be understood on its own or through use of other information sources. Practices which govern the proper management of documents may apply equally well to any data. For instance, a row in a relational database table may be regarded as a manageable unit, relating to a single transaction which can be understood independently.


Records are defined in the Code as “Recorded Information created, received, and maintained as evidence and as an asset by an organisation or person, in pursuit of legal obligations or in the transaction of business”.

The Code leaves it to each authority to decide on the value of its information and the purpose of holding it. The Council acknowledges its responsibility to manage the information it regards as assets and to maintain the evidential value of those assets which it regards as records. For information to be adequately maintained as a record, it must be captured in a recordkeeping system, paper-based or electronic. A recordkeeping system may be defined as any system which maintains the authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability of the information it holds.

The record lifecycle

Following capture as a record, information goes through three phases:

Current: Current Records are evidence of the functions and activities of the Council and will be used on a frequent basis for the conduct of current business. These may be in the form of active client files, active correspondence (paper and email), reports etc.

Semi-Current: Semi Current Records are evidence of the functions and activities of the Council and will require continued retention but are not used on a daily basis. These may include inactive client files for individuals who are no longer in contact with the Council, financial records, reports and policies. These records will typically be inactive and retained for compliance purposes.  These records that are paper based are to be stored at Alder Close, the Council’s records management paper store. 

Disposal: Non-Current Records are no longer required either for the conduct of current business or for compliance reasons and should be disposed of.

Records storage: The storage of records should reflect the value and importance of the information they contain. Records must be held in appropriate storage conditions, protecting them from damage or deterioration (e.g. in damp conditions). Records classified as controlled or restricted must be held securely, accessible only by authorised staff, to reduce the likelihood of damage or loss of records.

Electronic records require the same level of care in their storage and maintenance as paper records and therefore should not be stored on individual PCs, laptops or other IT devices. Where a dedicated case management system has been adopted, it should be used to capture all appropriate information. Where neither a case management system nor current departmental Electronic Document Records Management system are in use, a shared network drive with appropriate access controls should be used.  Further details in relation to the electronic storage of records can be found at Appendix 1 to this policy.

Records management at the Council complies with:

  • The Local Government (Records) Act 1962;
  • The Local Government Act 1972;
  • The Data Protection Act 2018;
  • UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR);
  • The Freedom of Information Act 2000;
  • The Statutory Code of Practice on the management of records (the Code) issued under section 46 of the FOIA;
  • the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR);
  • the Public Records Act 1958 (PRA);
  • the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015.

Retention of records is regulated by a multitude of legislation, usually covering specific areas, such as health and safety, contracts or safeguarding children. This is set out in more detail in the Council’s Retention and Disposal Schedule.

5. Roles and Responsibilities

5.1      Senior Management

The senior officer with overall responsibility for this policy is the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport, who will monitor compliance and delegate day to day oversight of records management functions.

5.2      Records and Information Manager

The Records and Information Manager is responsible for drawing up guidance for good records management practice and promoting compliance with this policy in such a way as to ensure the easy, appropriate and timely retrieval of information. They maintain the Disposal and Retention Schedule and update it every six months once agreed by departmental management teams (DMTs) to reflect changes in legislation, business needs and common practice.

5.3      Assistant Directors

Assistant Directors are responsible for the records created and maintained in their area of responsibility. They agree retention and disposal schedules at six monthly intervals (approved by DMTs) and inform the Records and Information Manager of any changes in legislation in their area.

5.4      Managers

Individual managers are responsible for ensuring that their members of staff comply with this policy and the related procedures. If local procedures are required, managers are to draw up and issue written procedures in consultation with the Records and Information Manager.

5.5      Employees

Individual employees must ensure that records for which they are responsible are accurate and are maintained in accordance with this policy.

5.6       Information Governance

The Information Governance Teams are responsible for providing advice and guidance on compliance with the Data Protection Act (2018), Information Security in the wider sense, and the Information Asset Register.

5.7       East Sussex Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO)

Archivists from ESBHRO decide which records to keep for permanent preservation due to their historical value or statutory requirements. Archival appraisal happens after permission to dispose of records has been received from the originating department. Once transferred to ESBHRO, records can only be accessed at the archives.


CET Customer Services Team will produce an annual review for the Information Governance Board and CMT. The annual review will follow the Information Commissioners Office’s good practice guide and will give:

  • An overview of the Council’s defined and allocated records management responsibilities.
  • An update on the annual desktop review of the Records Management Policy, along with any further suggestions for improvement, based on findings from the year.
  • Identified records management risks.
  • An update with regards to participation with the records management training programme.
  • Information from periodic checks on records information management practices which will be gained through a team self-assessment process which will ensure the monitoring of compliance with records management procedures. Support, where needed, will be provided by the Records and Information Manager and Information Governance teams.


If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the CET Customer Services Team.


Record Ownership Schedule

Responsibility for record series is usually taken by the service area that creates, receives, maintains and accesses them. In exceptional cases, records may originate from different functions, but are managed as an entity, such as Deeds, legal contracts and agreements and procurement contracts. For these cases the following schedule provides an agreed understanding of ownership. As with all other records, departments manage these on behalf of the Council, but these have been deemed to have the highest level of expertise and proximity to these records.

Records Series

Responsible Department (Owner)


Governance Services – Legal Services

Legal Contracts and Agreements

Governance Services/Legal Services

Procurement contracts

Business Services - Procurement

Records from closed ESCC maintained schools

Children’s Services - Education

Records from closed non-ESCC maintained schools as per individual agreements

Children’s Services –

Information Governance (as per individual agreements)

Date approved


Date to be implemented






Related procedures

Retention and Disposal Schedule, for Depositors

Related policies

Data Protection and Information Security Policy, Information Management Strategy

Related Guidance, Legislation and Codes of Practice

Local Government Act 1972, FOIA Section 46 Code of Practice, Data Protection Act 2018,






Policy Owner

Rupert Clubb, Director of Communities, Environment and Transport

Lead Contact

Customer Service Team CET

Policy review date




Appendix 1 to Policy East Sussex County Council

Corporate Digital Records Preservation Framework

1. Introduction

1.1. The Statutory Code of Practice on Records Management issued under section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 recommends public bodies across the country have guides for the preservation of digital records to ensure that they can continue to be accessed and used and are resilient to future changes in technology.

1.2. Many types of records and information that the Council uses have no paper counterpart and exist only in digital format. The preservation of digital records is complex and requires proactive intervention at various points within the lifetime of the record. Addressing these issues is key to continued effective working by the Council, as well as to maintenance of the collective memory of its decision-making and service delivery.

1.3. Basic principles of records management and best practice in their application remain the same for digital as for paper records. The purpose of this framework is to add further clarity to their application to digital records.

1.4. It is the responsibility of the Council to have arrangements in place to enable the digital records it creates and uses to remain accessible.

1.5. Digital preservation is defined as “a series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as is necessary.” (Digital Preservation Coalition Digital Preservation Handbook)

1.6. Preservation arrangements can be divided into a number of phases:

1.6.1. Long Term: to allow continued access to digital materials, or the information they contain, indefinitely. Such arrangements should be in place for historically important records to be transferred in due course to the Archive Service;

1.6.2. Medium Term: to allow access for a set period of time, irrespective of changes in technology. Time limits should reflect records retention periods in departmental records schedules;

1.6.3. Short Term: to allow access to digital materials for a set period of time while needed for business, legal, financial or similar operational purposes.

2. Aims and Objectives:

2.1. This framework aims to raise awareness of digital preservation as a concern for the Council in how it creates and manages its digital records.

2.2. This framework, and associated procedures, will outline current best practice to mitigate risks in dealing with digital records.

3. Examples of digital records:

3.1. The following are the main types of digital records covered by this framework:

3.1.2. ‘Born-digital’ records including documents created using Microsoft Office applications (Word-Processed documents, spreadsheets, databases, emails etc) in addition to records kept in dedicated case management systems (including Liquidlogic);

3.1.3 Digital Surrogates created following scanning of paper documents. These are scanned image files of paper files created in order to improve workflow or to rationalise space.

4. Strategies to assist with digital preservation:

4.1. Maintaining access to digital records over a lengthy period of time requires a continuous cycle of actions in respect of storage media, content, contextual information, and safeguarding from threats of software and technological obsolescence, malfunction and deterioration.

4.2. Digital records, like their paper equivalents, should be managed in accordance with an agreed records retention schedule. Disposal arrangements need to be in place. The UK GDPR, Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 2018 all apply equally to paper and electronic records.

4.3. In order to preserve a record, it must first be effectively managed. Following basic records management principles will help ensure, at an early stage, that digital records which are required long-term or which merit permanent preservation are identified. By identifying these records, time and resources will be saved by making appropriate disposal arrangements for time-expired records.

4.4. When embarking upon a digitisation project, staff should seek to ensure that the most appropriate file-formats are used which will ensure long term preservation and accessibility. This decision should be made at the outset of any project. The Records and Information Manager can advise on how to plan a digitisation project that will work within the framework of the Council’s Records Management Policy.

4.5. Storage media for digital records have limited lifespans. Regular quality checks should be carried out to ensure the digital records held on storage media are intact and readable.

4.6. Owing to the short lifespan of electronic storage media, it may be necessary to migrate data from one storage media to another after a set period.

4.7. Records created using open-source software are often easier to migrate than their proprietary counterparts.

4.8. In respect of digital images, TIFFs are regarded as the most appropriate file format for long term digital preservation. For access purposes JPEGs (or similar file formats of a smaller file size) should be used.

4.9. For other documents, the use of approved, established and reliable software is recommended.

4.10. The Archive Service accepts digital records as permanent records if they possess exceptional historical value, or if the retention schedule directs that they should be offered to Archives at the end of their lifecycle.  The Archive Service has its own Digital Preservation Policy.

5. Roles and Responsibilities:

Assistant Directors/Heads of Service/Team Managers are responsible for ensuring that:

  • The corporate digital preservation framework and its associated guidelines are implemented within their department/service/section;
  • Staff are supported in terms of training and development to enable them to address digital preservation issues;
  • Digital preservation considerations are taken into account when considering digitisation initiatives or procuring new software or hardware;
  • Where appropriate, strategies are put in place to ensure the regular migration of records held solely in digital format

CET Customer Service Team: Responsible for ensuring that:

  • Appropriate advice and guidance is given;
  • Professional standards for digital preservation are met and that compliance is regularly reviewed;
  • Records identified for permanent preservation are transferred as appropriate to the Archives Service;
  • Periodic audits of records and information are undertaken across the Council to identify good practice and levels of compliance, the outcome of which should be reported to the Information Governance Board.

6. Policy Monitoring and Review:

6.1. Compliance with this policy and related guidelines will be monitored by Customer Service Team in CET in consultation with departmental representatives.

6.2. As part of monitoring and evaluation procedures, a digital preservation risk assessment linked to the Information Asset Register and an action plan will be formulated and reviewed.

Was this page helpful?

Click or tap the rating which best represents your experience.