National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Model Plan Guidance to Element 3

Model Plan Guidance to Element 3

As a result of changes to the Keeper’s Model Plan, this guidance is currently being reviewed. We hope to have this completed by the end of 2021. In the meantime, if you have any queries about the guidance, please contact the Assessment team.

Records management policy statement

A records management policy statement underpins effective management of an authority’s records and information. It demonstrates to employees and stakeholders that managing records is important to the authority and serves as a mandate for the activities of the records manager
This is a compulsory element under the terms of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011: Section 1 2(b)(i)

In line with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland's (The Keeper's) obligations under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (the Act) the following guidance is issued about an authority’s records management policy document:

It is important that an authority's records management plan (RMP), submitted for agreement with the Keeper, confirms that the authority has developed a records management policy governing the creation and management of authentic, reliable and useable records, capable of supporting business functions and activities for as long as they are required.

Current best practice guidance, such as that developed by the National Archives of Australia, advises that:

[A records management] policy is a key component of good corporate governance. A corporate policy can foster an appropriate culture, or set of behaviours, within an organisation. It can demonstrate an organisation's commitment to undertake business activities in a diligent and accountable manner. It also helps communicate this commitment clearly and effectively to stakeholders.

The policy should reflect the size and complexity of the authority and confirm that the policy is owned by senior management. Authorities with a wide range of functions operating in a complex legislative environment will require a fuller policy document than a smaller authority.

The policy statement should define the legislative, regulatory and best practice framework, within which the authority operates and demonstrate how the authority aims to ensure that its records remain accessible, authentic, reliable and useable through any organisational or system change.

The records management policy document should include a description of the mechanism for records management issues being disseminated through the organisation and confirmation that regular reporting on these issues is made to the main governance bodies.

Although the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 is 'technology blind' and refers to records created in any format, an authority's formal policy may, if appropriate, differentiate between the processes in place for paper records and for those held electronically.

The policy must be approved by senior management and should be made available to all staff at all levels in the organisation.


The policy statement is a compulsory element of a RMP according to the Act (1 2(b)(i). It must be approved by a senior accountable officer in the authority and submitted to the Keeper.

Sample Records Management Statement documents

Below are sample records management policies from various public authorities that you may wish to consult as a guide to creating your own:

Dundee City Council (36 KB DOC)

Moray Council Strategy Document and Policy

See Guidance to Element 3 (571 KB PDF)

The Information Commissioner's Office publishes their Records Management policy online and this may represent a useful template for you to follow:

Information Commissioners Records Management Policy (395 KB PDF)

The Scottish Police Services Authority have a policy and operating procedures document:

Scottish Police RM Policy and SOP (316 KB PDF)

And a fuller information management strategy:

Scottish Police Information Management Strategy (1331 KB PDF)

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator provides this policy document and retention schedule:

OSCR RM Policy (337 KB PDF)

NHS (Health Records) Records Management Policy

Guidance Specific to Records Management Statements

The Section 61 Code of Practice 2011:

Section 61 Records Management Policy (232 KB PDF)

The National Archives have produced a guide to creating a records management policy including a section 'How to write a records management policy' (798 KB PDF)

Complete Guidance Documents

National Records of Scotland (National Archives of Scotland) records management guidance

Scottish Ministers' Code of Practice on records management by Scottish public authorities under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 -16 December 2011(Section 61)

The Moray Council Records Management Strategy

London Museums Hub Records Management Toolkit

Information Governance Records Management Guidance for NHS Boards

The National Archives (UK)

If you encounter difficulties opening linked websites, PDF documents and RTF documents listed on this page, please contact us at

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