Amount of original material involved
3.36 Including central government material, the documents disclosed to the Panel amount to approximately 735 linear metres of archive boxes. Assuming that central government material is excluded, since it will be absorbed by The National Archives, approximately up to 700 linear metres of material will need to be accommodated by the PoDs.
3.37 Given the pressure on space at archives and their modest future acquisition rates, such a volume could be very difficult for one archive to absorb as a new deposit. Thus it would be economical to share the burden.
3.38 Irrespective of costs which might be incurred in moving original records from one location to another, there are complicating issues relating to the relocation of records. Without the consent of the owners or relevant statutory authority, records cannot be removed from the custody of the creators of records or the repository in which they have been deposited in accordance with legislation and archival practice.
3.39 Sheffield Archives is the records repository and archive service for the city of Sheffield and the South Yorkshire area, operated by Sheffield City Council under the Local Government (Records) Act 1962, the Local Government Act 1974 and other relevant legislation. Sheffield Archives also has been appointed as a PoD under Section 4(1) of the Public Records Act 1958 to hold locally created public records, including those of the NHS and Her Majesty's Coroner.
3.40 It provides the full range of services expected from a local archive and local studies collection as well as a conservation studio and records management service for Sheffield City Council. A formal inspection by The National Archives in 2005 and subsequent monitoring of the service, together with the results of The National Archives' self-assessment exercise for local authority archive services, indicate that Sheffield Archives provides a high standard of service meeting the requirements of The National Archives' Standard for Record Repositories (2004). This is the recognised national benchmark for archive services.
3.41 Normally, costs associated with preservation and provision of access to the local records relating to the Hillsborough disaster would be borne by Sheffield Archives but they may require additional funding to absorb the deposits. This would unite the material disclosed to the Panel, as a large proportion of the records created by official and other bodies in connection with the Hillsborough disaster is held in Sheffield Archives.
Liverpool Record Office
3.42 Liverpool Record Office is the principal archive repository for the City of Liverpool and the Merseyside area, operated by Liverpool City Council. It fulfils functions similar to those of Sheffield Archives and has many important official and deposited private collections relating to the city and Merseyside sub-region. It is also a PoD under Section 4(1) of the Public Records Act 1958.
3.43 Refurbishment of the Liverpool Record Office is expected to be completed in late 2012. Liverpool City Council and the Record Office would need to make additional financial and accommodation provision to absorb part of the Distributed Permanent Archive.
3.44 The Record Office can provide a digital service and professional support close to where many families, survivors and others affected by the disaster live. Liverpool Football Club and other organisations have indicated that they are prepared to deposit documents and records relating to Hillsborough at the Record Office.
The Panel proposes a Distributed Permanent Archive of the original material at Sheffield Archives and Liverpool Record Office and for central government records at The National Archives at Kew. Such a Distributed Archive is in keeping with the nature of the records and the services which the three archives can best provide and which they are willing to do.
Private owners of documents and other material made available to the Panel, especially where those records have been disclosed on the Hillsborough website, should be encouraged to deposit their records in the archives.