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Records management in English local government: the effect of freedom of information

Elizabeth Shepherd (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)
Alice Stevenson (Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK)
Andrew Flinn (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




University College London (UCL) ran a research project over 12 months in 2008‐2009, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, which examined what the impact of the UK Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 had been on records management services in local government. This paper aims to report on some of the findings of the study, with a focus on the practical records management issues.


The research considered the three perspectives of records managers: institutional FOI; policy managers; and FOI requestors and user communities. Following an extensive literature review, qualitative research methods were used to gather data, specifically semi‐structured interviewing of 27 individuals from 19 different institutions in London and the South East of England and with 11 requestors.


The findings reported in this paper focus on records services in local government, in particular their organisational location and status, and aspects of the management of current and non‐current records, including those in digital formats.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is one of the outputs of a grant‐funded project, which documents the results of research in FOI from a records management perspective and makes a contribution to the wider debate about access to information. It attempts to survey user responses, which has been an overlooked aspect of other FOI and records management research.

Practical implications

There are some implications for good practice in records management policy and systems and in the location of records functions in local government.


Local government is an under‐researched field in respect of information management and FOI, when compared with other parts of the public sector, and this is therefore a significant contribution to knowledge in this field.



Shepherd, E., Stevenson, A. and Flinn, A. (2011), "Records management in English local government: the effect of freedom of information", Records Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 122-134.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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