National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Freedom of Information and Records Management

Freedom of Information and Records Management

“Any freedom of information legislation is only as good as the quality of the records to which it provided access. Such rights are of little use if reliable records are not created in the first place, if they cannot be found when needed or if the arrangements for their eventual archiving or destruction are inadequate”, Section 61 Code of Practice.

Public authorities are at risk of not being able to comply with FOISA if they do not know:

  • What information they hold
  • Where to find it
  • How long to retain it for
  • Which records should be transferred to an archive for permanent preservation, and when
  • Which records should be destroyed, and at what point this can be done
  • When, why and on whose authority records have been destroyed
  • What individual records management responsibilities are

NRS has an advisory role, based on the Keeper’s responsibilities under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994 and our statutory relationship with Scottish government bodies. More information about Scottish records legislation can be found in our Legislation section.

Codes of Practice

Sections 60 and 61 of FOISA required Scottish Ministers to issue two codes of practice. The Scottish Information Commissioner promotes observance of both Codes. Should an authority fail to comply with either Code, they may be failing in their duties under FOISA.

Section 60 Code of Practice on Discharge of Functions by Public Authorities

The Section 60 Code of Practice on the Discharge of Functions by Public Authorities provides guidance to Scottish public authorities on practices they should follow in meeting their FOI obligations, including the provision of advice and assistance to applicants, and the transfer of requests by one authority to another.

Section 61 Code of Practice on Records Management

The Section 61 Code of Practice on Records Management provides authorities with guidance on the creation, keeping, management and destruction of records, and on the review and transfer of records to both the Keeper of the Records of Scotland at NRS and other public archives.

The Scottish Information Commissioner and the Keeper of the Records of Scotland must be consulted before Scottish ministers issue or revise the Section 61 Code of Practice on Records Management (see section 61 of the Act)

The Scottish Information Commissioner must consult the Keeper of the Records of Scotland before issuing a practice recommendation to a Scottish public authority relating to its conformity with the Section 61 Code of Practice (see section 44 of the Act).

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Keeper and the Scottish Information Commissioner  sets out the understanding between them on the operation of the Code and their cooperation in relation to the issuing of practice recommendations.

Model Action Plan

To assist Scottish public authorities to develop records management arrangements which comply with the Code, the Keeper of the Records of Scotland has produced a generic Model Action Plan. The Model Action Plan should be read in conjunction with the Section 61 Code. It can be used by individual organisations as a guide, and can also be used as the basis for the development of sector-specific codes tailored to the needs and business practices of particular types of public authority.

Records Management Workbook

A records management workbook has also been made available to permit organisations or auditors to check their records management procedures against the Section 61 Code. 

Further Records Management Guidance

General guidance on records management can be found on our Records Management page.

Our guidance for depositors contains information about how NRS can help specific sectors

The Public Records (Scotland) Act pages provide information about the Act and about records management in the guidance to the Keeper’s Model Plan.

NRS has published its own records management plan which sets out arrangements for the management of its corporate records.