National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Public Records Review Project

Public Records Review Project

The Keeper of the Records of Scotland is conducting a review of Scottish public records legislation following recommendations made by the Shaw Report. The Historical Abuse Systemic Review (the Shaw Report), was published on 25 November 2007. Shaw carried out a two year investigation into systemic failings in the provision of residential child care in Scotland between 1950-1995, which contributed to abuse suffered by children in residential schools and children’s homes. A copy of the full report is available in the Publications section of the Scottish Government  website.

The principal focus of the Keeper's review is to identify possible failures of record keeping as highlighted by Shaw, but the review will also include a broad overview of public records legislation in Scotland. The Keeper will submit a report of his review to Scottish ministers in 2009.

Terms of reference

Scottish ministers asked the Keeper to conduct this review. Following a ministerial statement made to the Scottish Parliament on 7 February 2008 by Adam Ingram MSP, Minister for Children and Early Years, in response to the Shaw recommendations. The statement defines the remit and conduct of the review: “The Shaw report rightly makes important recommendations about records and record keeping. The first is the need for a review of public records legislation. There are clear advantages in such a review, as the existing law is more than 60 years old. We have therefore asked the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, in consultation, to review the legislation on public records in the light of the shortcomings that were exposed by Shaw.

The Review has been set up as a formal National Archives of Scotland (NAS) project. It was informed by previous work conducted by the NAS Public Records Legislation Review Group which met between May and June 2008. Minutes of the Review Group meetings are available below:

Third meeting, 10 June 2008 (PDF 26.5KB)
Second meeting, 25 May 2008 (PDF 8KB)
Inaugural meeting, 8 May 2008 (PDF 9KB)

The Project Board is chaired by the Keeper and attended by the NAS senior management team. The project consists of the following elements, which run in parallel:

  1. Commissioning an outside consultancy: to maintain the Keeper’s neutrality and permit designated individuals and groups to comment in a structured way on the record keeping aspects of the Shaw recommendations.
  2. Set up an advisory group:  to assist the Keeper in the conduct of the review and wider consultation process, with membership drawn from various constituencies.
  3. Conduct wider consultations: to conduct a literature and international best practice review and achieve  wider consultation with record professionals and particular leaders of representative groups.
  4. Produce report: to draw together the findings and results of the consultations and submit a report to Scottish ministers during 2009, to allow them to make an accurate statement to parliament and recommend a clear way forward.