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1.7.4 Retention, Archiving and Destruction of Records


Recording Procedure

Recording (Additional Guidance)

Access to Records Procedure


Personal Information Handling Policy

Information Security Policy

Policy on the use of Information Technology

(The above policies can be found on Hull CS intranet.)

This chapter was added to the procedures in October 2017.


  1. Retention of Documentation
  2. Retention Schedule
  3. Archiving of Paper Files
  4. Process for the Review and Destruction of Records
  5. Customer Information

1. Retention of Documentation

All records, including files, photographs, secure removable media and other written or electronic and visual material that originates in connection with social work duties, are the property of Hull City Council.  

Under no circumstances should the materials referred to above be retained in an employee's possession, whether at home or elsewhere.

Removable media such as Memory sticks must be password protected in line with council policy, for example the use of ‘safe sticks’ and ‘safe boot’ encryption. Any information stored on such devices must be transferred to the council network as soon as possible, and deleted from the device.

Staff using computers at home for Council purposes must do so using equipment provided by the council’s ICT department, as this will have been installed with the appropriate security software. Any information stored on these portable devices must be transferred to the council network as soon as possible, and then deleted from the device. Under no circumstances should an individual’s private/home computer be used for council purposes.

Case files should not be removed from the office, unless prior authorisation has been given by the individuals’ line manager. Removing files from the office should not be the norm, and any prior authorisation can be revoked at any time. 

Managers should have systems in place to record any removal of documentation from the workplace and their return, with appropriate signatures and dates.

Any breach of these arrangements may lead to disciplinary action being considered.

Any further advice on issues regarding the holding or managing of confidential personal information about service users can be obtained from the council’s Caldicott Guardian.

Note that foster carers who keep records on children, young people as part of their fostering role, or have been given copies of documents such as care plans, must when the individual’s placement ceases give all recordings and documents to their fostering social worker for destruction.

2. Retention Schedule

Children's Records

The table below contains a list of categories of children’s records with the timescales. Once the retention period is up, the files will be reviewed and if appropriate destroyed. The timescales apply to paper and electronic files.

Type of Record Retention period.
From closure of case otherwise stated.
Adoption Case Records: 100 years from the date of the Adoption Order.

Looked After Child
Legal status included in the category:

  • Interim Care Order - Sec.38 Children Act 1989;
  • Care Order - Sec.31 Children Act 1989;
  • Accommodated under Sec.20 Children Act 1989;
  • Remanded under Sec.23 Children and Young Persons Act 1969;
  • Bailed under Sec.38 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1989 and placed in Local Authority accommodation;
  • Subject to an Emergency Protection Order under Sec.44 Children Act 1989 and placed in Local Authority accommodation.
75 years from the birth of the individual, except when an individual dies prior to age 18, then records should be retained for 15 years from date of death.

Section 8 Orders - Children Act 1989

Several types of orders can be made under Section 8, these include:

Residence Orders;
Prohibited Steps Orders;
Contact Orders;
Specific Issues Orders.

75 years.
Special Guardianship 75 years.
Children in private foster placements 75 years.
  • Unaccompanied minor, for example asylum seeker
75 years (looked after child)

Child Protection
This category includes the individual records for children who have been:

  • Subject to a Section 47 enquiry and / or Child Protection Conference;
  • Subject to Child Protection Plan;
  • Subject to a Child Assessment Order;
  • Subject to a Supervision Order under Sec.31 Children Act 1989.

50 years

(Lowell Goddard requirements need taking into consideration here)

Other children including children in need  
  • Child who has been referred to social care but for whom there has not been a Children's Social Care Assessment.
10 years.
  • Children's Social Care Assessment only then NFA.
10 years.
  • Child considered to be in need and services provided (but not subject to Section 47 enquiry) where family support is provided.
25 years.
  • Child considered to be in need and services provided (but not subject to Section 47 enquiry) where there are complex concerns or concerns about parenting.
50 years.

Other Records

Type of Record Retention Period
Complaints Records The same period as the child care record.

Children's Homes

Type of Record Retention Period
Children's home records including admissions and discharges, rotas, daily logs etc. 75 years.

Foster Carer / Adoptiver Carer Records

Foster or adoption applicants who receive information / attend presentation, then NFA 12 months.
Foster or adoption applicants who undergo initial assessment, then NFA 10 years.
Foster or adoption applicants who undergo part of a comprehensive assessment, then NFA either through their withdrawal or the fostering team's refusal or refusal at Panel 35 years.
Foster or adoptive carers who de-register. 50 years.

3. Archiving of Paper Files

Child care records should be archived when they have been inactive for 3 years. This is the case for both paper and electronic records. Regular checks should be made on all non-active files and where these have reached the three year limit, approval for archiving should be sought from the team manager. When archiving files attention must be given to appropriately marking the files for destruction in accordance with guidelines. A date for destruction should be attached to files.

When an electronic record is archived the Business Systems Team will restrict user access, so that any access to the record has to be requested.

Archived paper records may be retrieved from the relevant Records Office when required with the approval of the relevant manager and the signature of the authorised signatory:

  • Where a file(s) are requested, these must be returned to the archive when involvement has ceased;
  • All case records for depositing / archiving must be sent to the Administration Section (Headquarters) either by hand or by the Internal Courier Service. When sent through the Internal Courier Service a tracking form must be completed to accompany the file, in order to track each stage of the files journey.

4. Process for the Review and Destruction of Records

The date for the destruction of a record should be written on its front cover (in the case of a paper file) and entered on the computer system when the case is closed (in the case of electronic records). The retention period is entered on the computer system (LiquidLogic).

Managers may decide to retain records for longer than the minimum periods specified above. The decision to do so, with the reasons for it, should be clearly recorded and signed by the manager concerned.

There is a discretion to specify a longer period where the circumstances warrant this, for example if a person is known to be violent, records may be retained for longer to indicate the potential risk posed by such a person or if litigation is possible.

If a closed case is subsequently re-opened, care must be taken to erase the date for destruction on the paper and electronic record.

Whenever there is the possibility of litigation, the records and information likely to be affected should not be amended or destroyed until the threat of litigation has ended.

When the retention period is up, the record is to be reviewed by the Manager who will make a decision to either destroy the file or to retain it for longer, in which case a new retention period is recorded. When records identified for destruction are destroyed, a register of such records should be kept with sufficient detail to identify the record and the date destroyed.

In all cases, the destruction of paper records, both in offices and in archives should be coordinated with the deletion of any electronic corresponding records.

5. Customer Information

Information regarding the timescales that records are retained will be communicated to customers (children, young people and their families) by the Social Worker involved with them. As looked after young people reach adulthood and as the involvement of the social care team / young people’s support service ends they will be informed in writing of the timescale for the retention of their records along with the Access to Records policy.

Communication with children and families will have to take account of their communication needs, age and level of understanding. People who do not have English as their first language will require the use of the interpretation service and may request that they are accompanied by an advocate.