Access to Records Affected by the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts
The Freedom of Information Act (2000), grants the right of access to information held by public bodies, such as Somerset County Council, district and parish councils, schools, hospitals and the police. The Data Protection Act (1998) aims to protect personal information about living individuals. The Act also entitles you to look at personal information that is held about you.
Due to these Acts, some archives held at the Somerset Heritage Centre are under restrict access. This is largely to protect people that are named within them. It is reasonable to assume a lifetime of 100 years, so we need to restrict access to these records until the end of a person's lifetime. Therefore, records relating to infants, such as Children's Home registers, are closed for 96 years; and records relating to adults, such as personnel registers, are closed for 84 years. Records containing medical details are closed for 100 years.
Some depositors also impose restrictions of access to their records which we hold on their behalf. Details of archives with restricted access are listed in the table below. Some items may also be restricted due to their condition. Wherever possible we will try to assist you to view these records.
Both Acts provide clauses which allow access to records in certain cases. For example, you have a right of access to see your own records. You can also view records for statistical analysis of historical sources.
The closure term normally runs from the last date in the record. Therefore, a document that covers the period 1903-1948 and is closed for 100 years will be under restricted access until 1 January 2049.