National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011

Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011

Each year the Keeper of the Records of Scotland produces an annual report on the Public Records Scotland (Act) 2011.

Latest Annual Report

Download a copy of the annual report by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, 2017 (3.1 MB PDF)

Previous Annual Reports

Download a copy of the annual report by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, 2016 (2.1 MB PDF)

Download a copy of the annual report by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, 2015 (2.1 MB PDF)

Download a copy of the annual report by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, 2014 (2.0 MB PDF)

Download a copy of the annual report by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, 2013 (2.9 MB PDF)

For the timetable and methodology of the implementation of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 please consult our Assessment Process  page.

The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 received Royal Assent on 20 April 2011. It is the first new public records legislation in Scotland for over 70 years.

The Act fulfils one of the main recommendations of the 2007 Historical Abuse Systemic Review (the Shaw Report). To view a copy of this report go to the Scottish Government website page on the Historical Abuse Systemic Review. The Shaw Report found that poor record keeping often created difficulties for former residents of residential schools and children's homes, when they attempted to trace their records for identity, family or medical reasons. The Report recommended that "the government should commission a review of public records legislation which should lead to new legislation being drafted to meet records and information needs in Scotland".

In 2008 Scottish Ministers asked the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (the Keeper) to undertake a review of public records legislation and his report was published in October 2009. View the Keeper's Review report to Scottish Ministers (404 KB PDF). The Keeper's conclusion, based on the evidence, was that existing legislation was not fit for purpose: it was seriously out of date, too narrow in scope and simply not relevant to today's conditions. Scottish Ministers accepted the Keeper's findings, and proposed a 'light touch' legislative response with carefully focused new legislation with a strong emphasis on self assessment. In order to minimise additional burdens on public bodies, Ministers also advocated the use of existing guidance and best practice to support implementation.

The Act affects named public authorities in Scotland including local authorities, NHS, police and courts, as well as the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. They are now obliged to prepare and implement a records management plan (RMP) which sets out proper arrangements for the management of their records. RMPs will be agreed with the Keeper and should be regularly reviewed. Where authorities fail to meet their obligations under the Act, the Keeper has powers to undertake records management reviews and issue action notices for improvement.

The Act also placed a duty on the Keeper to develop and publish a model RMP and guidance on the form and content of RMPs. Scottish Ministers saw engagement with stakeholders as crucial to developing these important documents and helping the Act to function correctly. The Keeper therefore established a Stakeholder Forum to deliver cross sector agreement. The Forum included representatives from across the public sector and also from relevant professions and other stakeholders, who helped develop The Model Plan and Guidance documents. Those were published on 10 August 2012. It is hoped that the collaborative nature of the Model Plan ensures that it represents best practice, while still remaining achievable. View the Keeper's Model Plan and other resources in our Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 section.

The Act also affects NRS who were the first body invited to submit a records management plan for the Keeper's approval.

The Act will raise the profile of records management across the public sector in Scotland and will introduce improvements and efficiencies in public record keeping. As well as increasing business efficiency, good records management helps authorities meet their statutory obligations and thereby respond better to their users needs. It will help authorities to better monitor public services, maintain accurate records of the circumstances and experiences of individuals, and safeguard the records of vulnerable people.

For news on the implementation of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 go to our Latest Developments page.

View a copy of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011, as published. (80 KB PDF)