Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Questions 80-87)



  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 period.
  (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 yet?
  (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.

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