The Records collection policy sets out the principles and criteria underlying decisions to offer public records to bodies other than The National Archives, either as a deposit or as a presentation.

The following principles are applied to decisions relating to the distribution of records under the Records collection policy.

1 The transfer of any public records is a matter for tripartite agreement between The National Archives, the originating department and the place of deposit itself.

2 Places of deposit holding specified classes of public record are under no obligation to accept any new classes of public record which are offered to them.

3 Acceptance of a given class of public record (for example, prison or hospital records) implies agreement to take in future accruals of that class, so that the integrity of the class as a whole is maintained.

4 As a general principle records series will not be split between different places of deposit or between The National Archives and a place of deposit: the institution committed to preserving the bulk of the series will be offered the records in their entirety. This principle does not apply to presented records offered to institutions which are not places of deposit. When The National Archives considers that part of a series merits permanent preservation it must ensure that these records are held either by The National Archives itself or by an approved place of deposit. If an institution which is not a place of deposit wishes to preserve records from the series which are not required by The National Archives/place of deposit then these records may be presented to it.

5 Whenever possible, institutions will be offered related contextual records as well as the main substantive series. For example, if an organisation agrees to take the records of a research institution they would normally be offered that organisation's administrative records as well as those arising from its research.

6 When a new record series meeting one of the disposition criteria is identified, it will be offered in the first instance to that place of deposit which has the most relevant collecting policy and whose existing collections relate most closely to it.

The following additional considerations will apply in relevant cases:

7 Where it is not entirely clear which place of deposit meets these conditions most exactly, then the state of their physical facilities (for both records storage and public access) will be taken into account. The agreed solution must be as convenient to as many potential users of the series as possible.

8 In cases where a new series does not obviously fall within the collecting policy of any existing place of deposit, efforts will be made to find an institution with an appropriate collecting policy and facilities which can be appointed as a place of deposit. New places of deposit must either meet in full the standards of The National Archives at the outset or have in place a programme which will ensure that these standards are achieved in the near future.

9 The above principles apply to the distribution of public records created by regional bodies. It would not be desirable to recommend a template solution from the centre which ignores regional diversity, and The National Archives will take account of this diversity in the following ways.

10 It will consult appropriate regional bodies, such as Regional Archive Councils (RACs) before any major distribution of regional records. The views of such bodies will carry significant weight when final decisions about these distributions are taken.

11 It will not be assumed that the records of a regional body should be transferred to the local archive service in the town or city where that body has its headquarters. This will avoid some local archive services being asked to bear a disproportionate burden in housing regional records.

12 In the event that more than one institution has an interest in a collection offered as a presentation, preference will be given to the organisation capable of meeting the standards of a place of deposit.