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Yes is the simple answer if you are an authority for the purposes of the Act.  It is however to the definition of Public Records to which we must turn to get the full impact and depth as to which organisations will be affected by the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011.

Are your records ‘public records’?

Following the Shaw Report in 2007, the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (“the Keeper”) was asked to review the public records legislation in Scotland. The Keeper’s review found that poor record keeping practices existed throughout the public sector and made several recommendations to the Scottish government. As a result, the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (“the Act”) was created and is set to come into force in January 2013.

What does the Act do?

The Act is aimed at providing a better record keeping framework and procedure for public authorities to use acrossScotland.

The Act defines what a public record is, and introduces Record Management Plans (“RMPs”) which public authorities will be expected to produce, setting out the procedure for the review, storage and disposal of public records in their area.

How does this effect private and voluntary sector organisations?

Although the Act only directly applies to authorities named within the Act, the Scottish Government has clearly stated that private and voluntary organisations which provide public services on behalf of public authorities will be affected and thus in reality the Act has a much wider reach. These organisations are brought into the Act’s scope through the broad definition given to “public record” which includes records created or held by both authorities and their contractors whilst carrying out the authority’s functions.   

The work carried out by private and voluntary sector organisations which is delivered through contracts with public authorities, in terms of the documents they create or hold relating to jobs undertaken for that listed authority, will be subject to that authority’s RMP.

What should organisations do?

A forum has been running with stakeholders, the Keeper and the National Records for Scotland (NRS), discussing the timetable for enforcement, the form of the RMPs and developing guidance. Whilst the NRS initially aimed to produce a draft model RMP and guidance for consultation at the end of 2011, this was delayed and was only published in February of this year (February 2012).

The Keeper’s model plan has 14 elements to it, including key factors such as Information Security; Data Protection and Shared Information; Retention Schedules and Audit Trails.

To view the Keeper’s model plan click here http://www.nas.gov.uk/recordKeeping/PRSA/consultation.asp. Responses to the consultation are due by Friday 18th May 2012  and can be emailed at publicrecords@nas.gov.uk .

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