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1.7 Retention and Destruction of Records


Case Recording Procedure


  1. Retention of Documentation
  2. Destruction of Files

1. Retention of Documentation

1.1 All records, including files, records, photographs and other written or electronic and visual material that originates in connection with social work duties, are the property of the Department.
1.2 Under no circumstances must the materials referred to above be retained in an employee's possession, whether at home or elsewhere.
1.3 Staff using computers at home for Departmental purposes must transfer any material to an office computer by the next working day. Subsequently, all material must be immediately deleted from their personal computer, hard drive or other storage devices. No information must be retained that can identify any client or service user.
1.4 Staff are not allowed to remove case records from their office, whether this is to work at home or for meetings, except as agreed on a case-by-case basis by the line manager.
1.5 Any authorisations to remove case records from the office may be cancelled at any time and their return requested at any time, although reasons must always be given.
1.6 Managers must have systems in place to record any removal of documentation from the workplace and their return, with appropriate signatures and dates.
1.7 Any breach of these arrangements may lead to disciplinary action being considered.

2. Destruction of Files


Records must be retained for the following time scales:

  • Children in Care
    75 years from date of file closure.
  • Adoption Case Records
    100 years from the date of the Adoption Order.
  • All other Children with Complex Needs Cases:
    6 years from file closure.
  • Assessment and Approval of Adoptive Parents/Foster Carers:
    10 years from the date approval is terminated or refused or the date of death or resignation of adoptive/foster carer.
  • Private Foster Carers:
    10 years from file closure.
2.2 Managers may decide to retain records for longer than the minimum periods specified above.
2.3 Where no period for retention is specified, records must usually be retained for one year after the last contact with the family. 
2.4 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.
2.5 The date for the destruction of a record must be entered on the computer system when the case is closed (in the case of electronic records) and written on its front cover (in the case of a paper file).
2.6 If a closed case is subsequently re-opened, care must be taken to erase the date for destruction on the electronic or paper records.
2.7 Whenever there is the possibility of litigation, the records and information likely to be affected must not be amended or destroyed until the threat of litigation has ended.
2.8 When records identified for destruction are destroyed, a register of such records must be kept with sufficient detail to identify the record and the date destroyed.
2.9 In all cases, the deletion of any electronic corresponding records must be coordinated with any paper records that may exist.