Examination of Witnesses(Questions 80-87)|
TUESDAY 30 APRIL 2002
80. What do you do with documents? As you say,
you get an enormous volume of documents, some of them from cases
that are very old, some of them from cases that may reignite again
in a few years' time. You store them, I assume, for a limited
(Sir Frederick Crawford) That is right. We tell people
that after the case is finished we will store them for six months
or whatever it is on site, and then they go off site to some safe
storage where after five years we have got to look at them again.
There are several reasons why we have got to look at them. There
are questions of the law regarding freedom of information, privacy;
several things that bear on how long we can keep these records
and what we should do with them. When we do the careful re-examinations
in some cases we will be able to send papers back and transfer
the ownership to other people.
81. Do you automatically offer them as much
as you can?
(Sir Frederick Crawford) Yes, that is right. We always
send the Court of Appeal papers and things like that back. Do
not forget that when papers come in we do not scan everything,
but a lot of it is scanned straight into the computer and used,
manipulated, then read electronically. Data mining takes place
on the stored versions and therefore those paper items can be
sent back straight away to Crown Courts, the Court of Appeal,
wherever they have come from. In the sifting there are some things
that we will have to send to the Public Records Office; some great
and significant milestone cases will have to go to the Public
Records, and we are just girding up to start looking at the first
cases within the next, say, six months or something like that.
82. But you do offer back as much as you can
to the complainant?
(Sir Frederick Crawford) Yes. We do not want to destroy
anything that might come up in the future. If the verdict is not
upheld, it is not likely to come back but, on the other hand,
it might be some milestone, a very significant case, and therefore
Public Records would be interested. It is quite a job that we
have got ahead of us there.
83. You have not started destroying documents
(Sir Frederick Crawford) No.
84. Thank you very much. Perhaps I should ask
Ms Courtney is there anything she wants to say. I am sorry you
have had to sit quietly.
(Ms Courtney) No, that is fine. I do not think there
is anything I want to add.
85. When did you join?
(Ms Courtney) 28 January this year.
86. So you are a relative newcomer?
(Ms Courtney) Yes.
87. Thank you all for coming. Sir Frederick,
can I say this is possibly your last appearance before this Committee
and if it is can I place on the record my own view, and as you
know I was a sceptic when you were first appointed, that you have
done an outstanding job in the more than five years that you have
been in charge.
(Sir Frederick Crawford) That is very kind. I am due
to leave the post on 31 August next year, which will be seven
years to the day, and I am waiting for a presentation of a brand
new mirror whenever I go, but I do hope there will be the possibility
of appearing one more time in front of you.
Chairman: If it is 31 August next year
there may well be. Thank you very much for coming.