Consultative Group on Security and Intelligence Records

The Cabinet Office, with the agreement of the Permanent Secretary, Intelligence, Security and Resilience, has established an interdepartmental group on security and intelligence records. The group, now known as the Consultative Group on Security and Intelligence Records, held its first meeting in July 2004 and plans to meet at roughly six-monthly intervals to consider a range of issues concerning security and intelligence–related records.

The group is chaired by the Head of Cabinet Office Knowledge and Information Management Unit, Roger Smethurst, and includes representatives from:

  • the United Kingdom's Intelligence Agencies
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Home Office
  • Northern Ireland Office
  • The National Archives (TNA)

From the academic community, the group also includes:

  • Professor Christopher Andrew (University of Cambridge)
  • Professor Richard Aldrich (University of Warwick)

The purpose of the group, as set out in its agreed terms of reference, is to consider requests from historians and other researchers of security and intelligence records and to respond where possible by:

  • facilitating the use of records that are already available
  • disseminating work in progress
  • identifying forthcoming releases
  • taking forward consideration of records on particular topics for possible release
  • undertaking an annual review of releases

The consultative group will also provide information and guidamce on the following through this website:

  • What is and is not available?
  • Where can it be found?
  • How are decisions taken on whether to release material?
  • What difference does the Freedom of Information Act make?

The group cannot answer enquiries about specific records or requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which should continue to be addressed to TNA or individual departments. If there is a particular area of guidance that you consider would be helpful, however, you may email the group at

Consultative Group meetings

Summaries of Consultative Group meetings will be made available following acceptance of the minutes. The links below will take you to the archived version of these minutes.

Articles relating to security and intelligence related topics

Security Service Records Retention and Release Policy by Sir Stephen Lander, Director General Security Service (1996-2002).

Research Guide to Intelligence Records in the National Archives

Research Guide to Intelligence Records - An online guide to help you find and interpret the records you need for your research. The guide will highlight newly released records

Security Service documents release talk

Professor Christopher Andrew talks about espionage and tracking down enemy agents [External website] [27 February 2008] 

Naional Intelligence Machinery

The National Intelligence Machinery booklet


Meeting minutes: 25 October 2010
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 67.69 kB
Notes on the Central Intelligence Machinery division of Cabinet Office records
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 139.08 kB

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Publication date: 4/1/2011

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