All contacts between the Home Office and its agencies and The National Archives in relation to archived material on the Windrush Generation so far this year and in 2009 and 2010

FOI request reference: F0052338
Publication date: May 2018

Request

Please provide information on all contacts (phone, email and letter) between the Home Office and its agencies (including the UK Border Agency as well as UK Visas and Immigration) and the National Archives in relation to archived material on the so-called “Windrush generation” of migrants so far this year (2018). This could include inquiries relating to shipping list, citizenship status etc.
If this information is readily accessible, I would also like to see contacts on this matter between the two organisations in 2009 and 2010.

Outcome

Not successful

Response

Following our update letter to you on 18 May 2018, we are writing to confirm that your request for correspondence between the Home Office, its agencies and The National Archives in relation to archived material on the so called “Windrush generation” of migrants’ in 2009, 2010 and 2018 has been refused under section 12 – cost limits. We should have provided this update to you within the 20-day period required by the Act, and The National Archives apologises for this.

To clarify our position and the reason for extending your request for a public interest test, what we have been able to do within the cost limit is to complete an initial search for information relating to your request. Further to this, as we have had a number of requests on this subject some information that has been gathered for other requests has fallen within scope of this request. It is to this information found that the exemptions at section 36 and 40 of FOIA have been engaged. However, we should have provided you with the details below to explain that we will not be able to answer your request in full as to do so would exceed the cost limit provision under section 12 of the Act.

Section 12 – Cost Limits

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

The FOI Act gives you two rights of access when you write to us asking for information. You have the right to know whether we hold the information that you are looking for, and you have the right to have the information given to you. These rights may only be overridden if the information you are looking for is covered by an exemption in the Act.

We have taken your request for information on correspondence in relation to archived material on the so called “Windrush generation” of migrants to mean correspondence in relation to archived material on Caribbean migrants between 1948–71.

We have determined that we will not be able to answer your request because to do so would exceed the cost limit provision under section 12 of the Act. Section 12 (1) 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 The National Archives (as a central government department) is set at £600. This equates to 25 hours staff time (or one person spending 3 and a bit working days) purely on determining whether the department holds the information, as well as locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

We estimate that it will take us in excess of this to identify the appropriate information, and locate, retrieve and extract it in response to your request. This is because we do not file corporate correspondence in the way in which you have asked for it. For example, we may hold correspondence with Home Office during this time in relation to record series held by The National Archives that may relate to “the Windrush Generation”, however this correspondence would not be searchable by this term. Therefore, to retrieve the information in the format and structure you have asked for would require searching through thousands of items of correspondence and archival records to identify and determine information relevant to the scope of your request. Therefore we will not be processing your request in full any further.

Advice and assistance in relation to this request

When your request was first received, we completed the following initial searches that fell within the cost limit:
• Correspondence in 2009-2010 between The National Archives and Home Office using the additional search terms “Windrush generation” and “immigrants from Caribbean countries between 1948-1971”
• Correspondence in 2018 between The National Archives and Home Office using the additional search terms “Windrush generation” and “immigrants from Caribbean countries between 1948-1971”

Some information was found from these searches that relate to your request. As confirmed in our previous correspondence, section 36 is engaged to this information as well as the exemption at section 40.

If you would like us to continue with this narrowed scope, please let us know and we will continue to consult with the Home Office over the public interest test.

Advice and assistance in relation to records we hold on the ‘Windrush generation’

You may be interested to know that we do hold the following information within open records at The National Archives:

• In our BT 26 series, we hold inward passenger lists for the HMT Empire Windrush covering the period 1947 to 1953. These are listed here on our catalogue Discovery.

• All of these passenger lists are open and available to search and download from Ancestry.co.uk. at this link.

• The relevant passenger list for the famous journey in June 1948, from Jamaica to London, carrying West Indian immigrants is BT 26/1237/91.

• If you would like to pursue research in records held by the National Archives, you, or someone acting on your behalf who perhaps lives closer, are welcome to visit us at our building in Kew, in southwest London, where you can do the research in person and view our documents free of charge. Please check our website for opening times and advice on researching here. I’m afraid the limitations on our resources mean we cannot offer free research but I hope the above advice allows you to carry out this research yourself.

We have provided below some information on the Public Records Act, and government departments’ responsibilities under this:

Under Section 3 of the Public Records Act 1958 it is the responsibility of government departments to appraise their records and select those worthy of permanent preservation to be transferred to The National Archives or an approved place of deposit. Records are destroyed by departments in line with the business retention and disposal policies set for the wider records collections in which they were located.

One again, The National Archives apologises for not providing this refusal notice under section 12 within the 20-day time frame. We hope that the information provided in advice and assistance is helpful, and please let us know if you would like us to continue processing the narrowed scope of your request.

Further guidance on section 12 can be found on the ICO website: https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1199/costs_of_compliance_exceeds_appropriate_limit.pdf

You may find the ICO guidance on making an FOI request helpful in refining or redirecting your request: https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/official-information/