Under the National Archives Act 1986 the records of Government Departments, the courts, and other state agencies must be preserved, unless their destruction is authorised in writing by the National Archives.
In general all Departmental records which are more than 30 years old are transferred to the National Archives and made available for inspection by the public.
Particular records may be retained by Departments if they are covered by certificates stating that:
- they are in regular use in a Department or are required in connection with its administration, or
- they should not be made available for public inspection on one of the grounds specified in the Act (which include the public interest, statutory duty, good faith on the ground that they contain information supplied in confidence, or distress or danger to living persons.