February 2014


1. How many instances have files which have been released to the National Archives been subsequently been lent to government departments?

2. In how many instances have they not been returned?

3. and if returned in how many cases have they been redacted subsequent to their been lent to the government department?


Part Successful / Cost limit applied


The government remote services team manage the requests by government departments, for access to their own transferred records at The National Archives. This team record details of all the files which are requested and sent to government departments and all those not returned within a six month period.

For government department requisitions for the last three calendar years, we can provide details of the total number of documents ordered and those numbers not yet returned:
Year  Total number of documents ordered in each year Number of docs still on requisition as of 19/02/2014 from each year

Year Total number of documents ordered in each year Number of docs still on requisition as of 19/02/2014 from each year
2011 9308 305
2012 7122 567
2013 7468 2053
Total 23898 2925

Although these figures provide details of how many documents were sent out in a given year and how many remain unreturned they do not differentiate between the non returns from that calendar year and any outstanding non returns from previous years. Thus these figures could have been from previous years.
Aside from the figures above, to provide you with a more accurate response, in relation to the questions raised in your request would require cross referencing with other material that we hold. Given that across the three calendars you are interested in, we are looking at over 23,000 documents, this would exceed the cost limit. As such we must apply Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act to your request.
Section 12 of the Act makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for central government is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3.5 working days in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information. We estimate that it will take us in excess of 3.5 working days to identify appropriate material and locate, retrieve and extract the information in reference to your request. Therefore, your request will not be processed further. Guidance on this can be found at


This being said, if you are able to refine your request and specify what it is you are looking for we may be able to help. For example are you interested in a specific record series, or department? We would be happy to provide further advice and assistance to help you reduce the scope of your request in order that this falls within the prescribed cost limit.

In order to do this you might also find guidance produced by the ICO useful, for example their website provides pointers on, :'How should I word my request to get the best result?' www.ico.org.uk/for_the_public/official_information  Another useful guide which we can recommend is www.foiman.com/resources/foiguide1