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2.3.1 Retention and Destruction of Case Records

IMPORTANT

See also: Criminal Cases Review Commission - Procedure for Securing Files which sets out the process for securing records when required to do so by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

RELATED CHAPTER

Retrieval of Case Records from Archives and Record Service Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 2023 in relation to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.


Contents

  1. Records Retention and Destruction
  2. Archiving Procedure


1. Records Retention and Destruction

Important Note: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has said that:

It is now very unlikely that the Chair and Panel will request access to documents relevant to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.

Consequently, organisations can plan for destruction or deletion of records that have been retained for the purposes of the Inquiry, which can resume at the end of the Inquiry’s Judicial Review period, currently set for 20th January 2023. However, please consider the following when drawing up disposal plans:

  1. Whether any of the records you have retained are likely to be of significant interest to victims and survivors and that your retention schedules meet their needs;
  2. The obligation to retain records for other inquiries remains.

Further information about the Inquiry’s moratorium on the destruction of records can be found on the Inquiry’s website.

Please note: we have retained information specifically for the inquiry and the usual retention period has passed, then the relevant records can be destroyed in accordance with the policy. If the retention period has not passed, then records must be kept in line with the retention schedule. Where there is a particular record where you feel further information may be required, retain for a further 1 year following the closure of the inquiry.

Case records should be retained in accordance with the retention schedule period identified below, which identifies the minimum period children’s social care records should be retained for prior to destruction or archiving.

The retention periods relate to both manual and electronically held records.

For documents scanned and indexed on to the electronic social care record (ESCR), the original document must be retained for an initial period of three months and then destroyed. Reference should be made to the following list of documents which must not be destroyed but retained following scanning and indexing:

  • Birth Certificates;
  • Health Assessment – CoramBAAF;
  • Additional Payments Information;
  • Assessments;
  • Child’s Plan;
  • Consent Forms.
The instruction from the independent inquiry into historical child sexual exploitation to not destroy children’s social care records does not apply to documents handled as part of the ESCR process as the electronic copy is retained on Azeus. The exceptions to this, detailed in the list above, should not be destroyed.

Each category of the records retention schedule below is not mutually exclusive. If a case meets the criteria for several categories then the greater storage time should always be the maximum length of storage.

Following notification from the independent inquiry into historical child sexual exploitation the destruction of children’s social care records can re-commence, the following retention periods apply:

  1. Adoption Records

    Where an adoption order was made on or after 30th December 2005, records must be retained for 100 years from the date of the adoption order. Where the adoption order was made before 30th December 2005 records and documents must be retained for 75 years from the date of adoption order.

    Where an adoption order was not made and the agency closes the child/young person’s adoption file, records and documents must be retained for 75 years from the date of birth of the child/young person. For records where an adoption order was not made, the agency closes the child/young person’s adoption file and the child/young person has died before the age of 18, records must be retained for 15 years from the child/young person’s date of death.

    Records in relation to non-approval or withdrawal of adoptive parent applications must be retained for 10 years from the refusal or withdrawal of the adoption application;
  2. Looked After Children Records

    Where an investigation has resulted in a child/young person being placed on the register, whether accommodated or not, must be retained for 75 years from the child/young person’s date of birth. Where a looked after child/young person died before the age of 18, records must be retained for 15 years from the date of the child/young person’s death;
  3. Foster Carer Files

    Records relating to foster carers approved and any persons with whom a child/young person has been placed who is not a foster carer under an immediate place including temporary approval under Regulation 24, must be retained for 10 years from the date the approval is terminated. Records in relation to non-approval of foster carers or withdrawal of applications to foster must be retained for 3 years from the date the application was refused or withdrawn;
  4. Residential Homes 

    Each children's home must keep a record of each child accommodated there for 75 years from the child/young person's date of birth. Where a child/young person dies before reaching the age of 18 the records must be retained for a period of 15 years from the date of the child/young person's death.

    Operational residential home records must be retained for 15 years from the date of the last entry. For example: register of children, staff, staff rotas; persons residing or working in the residential home, visitors; fire drills/alarm tests; accounts.

    In the situation when a children's home closes, the home's daily log, register and sanction book must be archived;
  5. Child Protection

    For records where a child protection investigation has resulted in a child/young person being subject to a child protection plan, whether accommodated or not, the records must be retained for 35 years from the date of the last contact. Where a child/young person dies before reaching the age of 18 the records must be retained for a period of 15 years from the date of the child/young person's death.

    Where a child protection investigation has taken place and resulted in a child/young person not being subjected to a child protection plan, the records must be retained for 25 years from the date of birth of the youngest child/young person to whom the assessment applies.

    For records where an allegation of child sexual exploitation and abuse has occurred, records must be retained permanently from the date of investigation;
  6. Children in Need

    Where a child/young person is considered to be ‘in need’ but is not accommodated or subject to a child protection enquiry, records must be retained for 25 years from the date of birth of the youngest child/young person to whom the assessment/referral applies. Where a child/young person dies before reaching the age of 18 the records must be retained for a period of 6 years from the date of the child/young person's death;
  7. All other children’s case records, files and data (not covered above)

    Records for any other type of child care case must be retained for the period applicable to Child in Need and retained for 25 years from the date of birth of the youngest child to whom the contact, referral or assessment applies e.g. Section 7 or Section 37 reports and Special Guardianship Reports (if not held elsewhere) Records relating to enquiries that have been made but no further action has been taken should be retained for a period of five years from the closure of the case;
  8. Persons Posing a Risk (Schedule 1 Offenders)

    Records on persons cautioned or convicted of an offence under Schedule 1 of the Children and Young Person Act 1933 must be retained for 100 years from the date of birth of the person or until notification of death;
  9. Serious Case Review

    Serious Case Reviews reports must be retained for 25 years from the date of birth of the child/young person, in order to advise on lessons learned and improve the welfare of children/young people.

Further information can be found in the Children’s Social Care Retention Schedule June 2016.


2. Archiving Procedure

Caption: Archiving Procedure
   
1.

A regular check every 6 months should be made of all non-active case records. Approval for archiving should be sought from the Area Manager/Team Manager.

2. The Support Service Team will arrange for the file to be deposited with Magnum Services in accordance with the Support Services Filing Procedure to include updating SWIFT with the paper file location.

Relevant Support Service Team
 

Destruction

 
1.

Destruction Dates for Client Files Archived with Archives & Record Services.

Before files are destroyed the Archives & Record Service will contact the Senior Performance Officer (Children’s Social Care) to check the dates of destruction.

Archives & Record Service and Performance Officer (Children’s Social Care)
2.

Destruction Dates for Client Files Stored with Magnum Services

Head of Service/Service Manager/Area Manager/Team Manager to approve destruction of files in accordance with the Schedule of Storage/Retention, Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records. Requests to retrieve files to be sent to relevant Support Service Team who will obtain files in line with the Support Services Filing Procedure. All updating of appropriate database with record of dates of destruction to be undertaken by the Support Service Team.

Head of Service / Service Manager / Area Manager / Team Manager and relevant Support Service Team

End